For the second time in his three years as president of basketball operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves, David Kahn is heading into an important NBA draft without a coach by his side.
Kahn has yet to announce a decision on Kurt Rambis and the coach won't be on hand Thursday night at the draft when the team holds the No. 2 pick — the highest in franchise history.
Yahoo! Sports reported Wednesday night that Kahn planned to fire Rambis sometime after the draft and was already gathering information on potential replacements. Kahn didn't return messages left by The Associated Press and a team spokesman said, "We're not going to comment on speculation."
They also have the 20th pick in the first round and could have several scenarios to consider in what is expected to be a wide-open and eventful draft night.
The Wolves could stay at No. 2, where they likely will have their choice between Arizona forward Derrick Williams or Turkish center Enes Kanter. They could trade the pick in an effort to get a veteran for the youngest team in the league, or they could swap it to move down and take a different rookie.
But it doesn't appear that Kahn will be bouncing any of those ideas off Rambis. He said on Tuesday that he wanted to meet with owner Glen Taylor before making a decision on the coach's future after a season that ended with a 15-game losing streak.
The fact that Rambis will be some 2,000 miles away at his home in Los Angeles on one of the most important nights of the year for a rebuilding franchise would seem to be an ominous sign. But Kahn said taking that view would be "overthinking" it.
Not having a coach firmly in place won't exactly be unique on Thursday. The Detroit Pistons have an opening and the Indiana Pacers still have not declared whether Frank Vogel is the permanent successor to Jim O'Brien.
The situation is similar to Kahn's first year on the job in 2009, when he was hired in May and didn't feel he had enough time to get acclimated to his new job, prepare for the draft and conduct a thorough coaching search at the same time.
If the Cavs take Williams, Kahn said the Wolves will take Irving. With Ricky Rubio already the point guard of the future, the Wolves would then likely trade Irving.
The other option if they stay put is Kanter, the big man who did not play last season after being ruled ineligible at Kentucky.
Union: Owners still demand too much
Union officials said Wednesday that NBA players and owners are about $7 billion apart over a 10-year span in their most recent proposals, a significant gap to close to avoid a work stoppage.
So far apart in negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement that union president Derek Fisher said when players are briefed on the state of the talks, they are in "total disbelief" and ask why they even bother having meetings.
"When we put our spreadsheets up, we put it on the board, we lay it out, everybody's at a loss for how to even begin to close this gap," the Lakers' guard said.
They have only until June 30, when the current CBA expires, and they'll take another crack at it during another session Friday.
Players insist what was proposed was still a hard salary cap because there was an eventual limit, and they have said from the start they will not agree to a hard cap.
Executive director Billy Hunter allowed that the players would have to consider a hard cap if they were to receive a much higher cut of revenues. They are currently guaranteed 57 percent, a number they say the league wants to massively decrease.
Kings exercise contract option on Cousins
The Sacramento Kings have exercised the rookie contract options on guard Tyreke Evans, forward Omri Casspi and center DeMarcus Cousins for the 2012-13 season.
A former Wildcat, Cousins averaged 14.1 points and a team-high 8.6 rebounds as a rookie this past season.