By Jerry Zgoda
OK, I hate to interrupt all the fun chatter I’ve started with today’s original posting but here’s the new name to add for the Wolves job on a day when the guy who looked like the top candidate, San Antonio asst GM Dennis Lindsey, apparently has withdrawn his name from consideration:
Former Miami GM and former Lakers coach Randy Pfund, who has interviewed for the job.
Pat Riley’s former right-hand man is the new name to emerge from a probable list that now includes former Indiana GM David Kahn, Cleveland assistant GM Lance Blanks and perhaps current Wolves GM Jim Stack.
But the question is how interested is Pfund in the job, and, after a career spent in L.A. and Miami, would he really live in Minnesota?
The time that has passed without an announcement suggested there were snags in negotiations with Lindsey, who withdrew his name from consideration for the Atlanta job about this time last year. ESPN’s Marc Stein reported this afternoon, citing unnamed league sources, that Lindsey has pulled out here, which follows everything I’ve been hearing about his differences with Wolves owner Glen Taylor over “control” issues and his doubts that the franchise is willing to spend what it takes to build a championship-contending organization.
Of the four candidates remaining, I’d say Pfund is probably the next choice, but Taylor and CEO Rob Moor might run into the same issues landing him as they did with Lindsey. If I had to guess right now who it ends up being, based on how things are going, I’d say Kahn, who hasn’t been in the NBA since 2002.
It also looks like Stack has emerged over Fred Hoiberg as the choice if the Wolves stay in-house, a decision that would be a tough sell with a dwinding fan base that more than anything needs a reason to hope.
Pfund resigned from the Heat last fall after Riley’s move from the coaching bench back into the front office made it apparent he wouldn’t have the same say in matters. He apparently is itching to get back in the league in which he has worked since 1985.
He was the Heat’s GM for the last 13 years of those. In that time, he managed personnel moves that sent the Heat to the playoffs 10 times and brought it the 2006 NBA title. The Heat’s release last fall announcing his departure credited him with drafting Dwyane Wade, Caron Butler, Dorrell Wright, Daequan Cook and Michael Beasley and for finding guys like Udonis Haslem, Malik Allen, Rafer Alston, Bruce Bowen and Isaac Austin.
He was an assistant coach to Riley on the Lakers’ championship teams in the late ‘80s and succeeded Mike Dunleavy as head coach in 1992 until 1994.
He certainly knows the league and knows all about championship organizations. Sometimes a guy like this doesn’t emerge until late in the game, which leads me to believe he’s a name really worth watching but the question is whether he’d want to come here. I’m guessing two big issues would be money (the Heat paid pretty well, I believe) and the McHale factor.
There was speculation in the league early this season that Pfund would end up in Chicago to replace John Paxson, but with the Bulls’ resurgence this spring that job isn’t coming free, you wouldn’t think.
A LATE ADDITION FRIDAY NIGHT: On another subject, just turned away from the Heat-Hawks game to watch on tape delay the final minutes of Wolves pick Nikola Pekovic lead his Greek Panathinaikos team to an 84-82 victory over Olympiacos earlier today in a Euroleague championship semifinal game.
Pekovic scored 20 points (including the eventual winning basket), had two rebounds and a couple turnovers in just under 20 minutes. He looked a lot like the youtube clips I’ve seen of him: Bullish with an efficient offensive game (7 for 10 from the field, 6 for 7 from the line) that’s all within three feet of the basket seemingly. Looks pretty lean and runs the floor fairly well.
His team plays CSKA Moscow Sunday in the final. You can see it on NBA-TV on tape delay Sunday at 7 p.m. I also think you can find it on the Web on live streaming video sometime Sunday afternoon. He’s the big guy, No. 14, with a great haircut, too, in the Eddie Munster style!