Don Nelson was mentioned as a candidate to replace the recently departed Kurt Rambis as head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves last week. It didn't seem like something that would ever come to fruition, but the NBA's all-time leader in wins is apparently serious about returning to the coaching ranks.
Nelson talked to the Minneapolis Star Tribune's Jerry Zgoda on Friday, calling from his Maui beach home of course, and shed some light on why he'd be interested in moving from balmy Hawaii to blustery Minnesota. The former Golden State Warriors coach also confirmed the Wolves interest, saying he's already had a 40-minute phoner with president of basketball operations David Kahn.
Nelson, who has a daughter and grandchildren living in nearby Minnetonka, summed up his interest rather succinctly while talking to the Star Tribune.
"I think it'd be a great fit. I love Minnesota," Nelson said. "They have an opening and I don't have a job. I'm a lifer. I love basketball. I don't know how else to put it."
Nelson wouldn't seem to be the best Rambis replacement considering that he's been rather hard on young players in the past -- the make-up of most of Minnesota's roster -- but the 71-year-old clarified that sentiment.
"Yeah, I don't like rookies that can't play," he said when asked about that impression. "Rookies that can play, I play 'em a lot. They're not rookies they have there. They're young players. You can bring those guys around and be competitive, be a real good young team. There's talent there. Maybe they just need to change the tempo and play a little faster there."
Nelson mentioned his affinity for coaching a roster that includes Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love, Derrick Williams, Wesley Johnson, Michael Beasley and Anthony Tolliver, but his most interesting comments were regarding former Warriors lottery pick Anthony Randolph.
Randolph and Nelson apparently didn't see eye-to-eye in Golden State, leading to his eventual landing in the Land of Misfit Toys in Minnesota, but the coach doesn't foresee that being a problem if he's able to get the Wolves job.
"I drafted Randolph. He didn't play very well for me. He's another guy, like Beasley, who has talent, but he has to reach down and get it. He didn't work that hard for me, but he's 6-11 and he can do things nobody else can do right now with running, jumping and playing around the rim. He's just got to reach down and become a player."
If Nelson does take his talents to Minnesota, this experiment would be interesting -- and hey, it just might work.