MINNEAPOLIS -- Kurt Rambis on Tuesday afternoon ceremonially traded his California tan and six NBA championship rings for a barren Minnesota winter and a four-year contract to coach the Timberwolves. In doing so, he oozed effervescent. Calling it an "incredible opportunity" he couldn't deny, Rambis accepted the job at a Target Center news conference and in an afternoon swapped a nearly 30-year association with one of professional sports supreme franchises for one that right now struggles to sell $5 tickets. When asked why he'd walk away from perpetual sunshine and perhaps the chance to eventually replace Phil Jackson as Lakers head coach, Rambis answered with reason and enthusiasm. He said the Lakers will encourage Jackson to coach as long as he wishes, and he reminded a welcoming audience that his new job was just one of 30 such NBA positions. "This opportunity could not be passed up, and I wasn't going to let it pass up," he said. "I did everything I possibly could to get this job, and I'm incredibly excited to be here. I left an incredible job in Los Angeles. That team has a chance to win several NBA championships. But this is an opportunity right now. When I weighed all the pros and cons, it was too good of an opportunity to turn down. The con being I had to buy some big winter coats because I have none." He insisted on a four-year contract because it provides protection with a franchise that has won 46 games the two seasons and that will be younger and perhaps less positioned to win now that it even was the past two seasons. Theoretically, that will give him the chance to lead the Wolves from perennial draft-lottery participants to the playoff participation and perhaps beyond. "I did not want to be the individual who put in the work, who put in the time and then somebody else comes in and takes it to another level," said Rambis, who won four NBA titles as a player and two as the Lakers' assistant coach. "I feel like I am that coach to not only help this team develop and grow but then to take it to the next level, where we are winning playoff games." Wolves owner Glen Taylor guaranteed Rambis at least $8 million because of Rambis' experience as a player under Pat Riley and as as an assistant under Jackson and because Taylor believed Rambis really, truly coveted the job. "Even though we recruited him, it was as much the other way," Taylor said. "He really wanted the job. That impressed me coming out of the organization that he has been in and the opportunities he might have there in the future." The presence of low-post scorer Al Jefferson and second-year forward Kevin Love, the team's selection this summer of rookies Jonny Flynn and Ricky Rubio and signficiant salary-cap space approaching next summer convinced him that it is possible to win in a place where the sun doesn't always shine and where Hollywood celebrities don't ever flock. "The No. 1 thing I like about him is, he just left a championship team and in maybe two, three years he would have been the head coach in L.A.," said Jefferson, who will visit the doctor later this month and hopes to receive clearance for full-contact work in his recovery from February knee surgery. "But he felt it was right here. That meant a lot to me because a lot of people don't want to come to Minnesota. "We've got to do the things that make people want to come here."