Cool Waves Wash Over Me

Benjamin Polk —  May 19, 2010 — 9 Comments

So the Timberwolves have the fourth pick in the draft (plus the 16th and the 23rd).  Myles has accurately articulated our feelings of despair, of helplessness, of cursed fortune. On Monday, presciently anticipating and defusing the disappointment, Wolves GM David Kahn gave a calming little spiel. He rested his chin in his hand; he wore a comfy shirt; he looked chillaxed. In this video, Kahn told us all, in advance, why we shouldn’t be too twisted up about poor lottery luck: 1) the fourth pick was the most statistically likely anyhow 2) they might very well move up 3) if the do pick fourth, they’ll get somebody good anyway. Check it and try to feel better:

Breathing easier? If that didn’t work, watch this and just try to enjoy Paul Allen’s moment of blissed-out hysteria. He’s not lucky, evidently, but he sure can get himself fired up. There, that should do it:

Benjamin Polk

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9 responses to Cool Waves Wash Over Me

  1. With all due respect, David Kahn’s ability to talk has never been in question, his ability to be an effective GM, on the other hand, has not inspired confidence to date. So I think that as a Wolves fan what I do NOT feel reassured by are more words from Mr. Kahn, we need to see actions that lead to improvement on the court. He is a highly trained lawyer and so he is very good at saying things that sound good at the time, but if you go back and compare the results with moves he made with great confidence and greater elaboration in letters to fans and interviews (I’d be glad if he spent less time trying to be the face of the franchise and more time working by the way — is there any GM who does more news and radio interviews or writes more letters to fans? Is that a good thing when your team is losing 60+ games? Who goes to games because they’re like “man that GM is an accessible dude and funny in interviews, even though the product on the floor is putrid”?), you can’t be that impressed.

    Exh. A: he traded away the rights to Ty Lawson because he claimed he was sure there was literally nobody on the board left worth drafting at 18, shortly thereafter teams drafted Lawson, Teague, Collison, Maynor and Beaubois, all of whom proved themselves easily worth drafting at 18, and arguably many or all of them showed more pro potential this year than the PG Kahn drafted at #6 or the one he signed for the midlevel. All gone by the time he drafted Ellington at #28. I’m not saying that you can always identify good prospects, but going out of your way to say things that turn out to be spectacularly wrong doesn’t inspire confidence.

    Exh. B: Kahn was very confident that Rubio would be in a Wolves uni in 2009-10 and at one point said he had reached a deal in principle to buy out Rubio. Rubio then signed a multiyear deal in Europe. After angry accusations of double dealing by Rubio’s family and his agent, Kahn said it was all for the best and he saw it coming all along. Then what where all the trips to Spain for, to work on his tan?

    Exh. C: Kahn said he was confident that Big Al and Kevin could play together and they were a good fit for the uptempo offense Rambis was going to implement (which may or may not have happened at all, but let’s leave that for another day). By February Kahn admitted they couldn’t play together and was shopping Harrington. This doesn’t bode well for his personnel assessment skills, or his assertion that he is sure that Rubio and Flynn, if and when they are in the same backcourt, can play together and will go together like peas and carrots. Why is he sure? Who can say he’s right even if he is sincere?

    Exh. D: He said 2009-10 would be all about player development and he expected the Wolves to lead the league in this department. Other than Brewer, all the players on the Wolves basically regressed, and Brewer for all his improvement is still a slightly below-average swingman.

    Exh. E: Despite turning over two thirds of the roster to expunge the team of the McHale era, the most productive players on the team (Al, Kevin, Brewer, Gomes) are all carryovers from the McHale era. I know it’s only been one year but if after one full year, you bring in 8-9 players and not a single one of them is better than Brewer or Gomes who would be back of the rotation players on decent teams, let alone Love or Harrington, that is not that impressive.

    Exh. F: During the season, Kahn identified the core of the team as Harrington, Love, Ellington, Flynn, Sessions and Brewer. When you are 16-66 you don’t have six core players. You probably don’t even have two. If you are trying to spare player’s feelings, just don’t say anything (the one thing that we have seen that Kahn, whatever his abilities, cannot do).

    Anyway, all I’m saying is that Kahn has talked enough. He needs to make moves that pay off this season, or he won’t last the 3-5 years or whatever he gave himself to succeed. Can even the most supportive Kahn fan say this guy is a better GM than he is a politician/lawyer?

  2. Good points all of them. I hope you didn’t miss the tone of irony in my descriptions of Kahn’s faux-reassuring manner (and if you did, that’s plainly my bad). I seem to be slightly more optimistic than you about Kahn’s skills as a GM, though I agree that he hasn’t done a ton to inspire confidence yet. Clearly, the Flynn pick was a mistake, and it looks like the Lawson trade was also (although we won’t know for sure until we see what they get in return, right?). I guess my only response is that I would say that the jury is still out. The Rubio situation could still work out very much in the Wolves favor–and I don’t think that having a teenaged star improving his game in the world’s 2nd best pro league is a bad thing on balance. I think we’ll know much more about what Kahn can do when this Summer is over. Not asking you to trust him necessarily, just to suspend judgment. As for Kahn as the voice of the franchise, that seems like an organizational decision to get Glen Taylor’s face off TV. Probably not the worst idea in the world. Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

  3. Re: ChardK1
    Exhibit A: A draft day deal to give up one of our 4 first round picks for a future pick. The consensus of experts did not have Ty Lawson as a lottery pick, even though he probably would be drafted there if everyone got a draft-day redo. Also, assuming Rubio and Flynn were coming to the team this year, we didn’t want 4 guaranteed rookie contracts on the team. It was a good, practical move to move pick#18 for a future 1st.
    Exhibit B: He didn’t say he saw it coming the whole time. Of course he hoped and wanted Rubio here (like all twolves fans), but he didn’t know whether it would happen or not this year. Yes, he backed out at the last minute, which sucks, but this claim of yours is just not true.
    Exhibit C: Let me clarify one thing, Al Jefferson is on the team – not Al Harrington. This almost says enough about your Kahn evaluation, but let me go on. As people have noted, Love and Jefferson haven’t played together all that much. Rambis moved Love to the 2nd team since the wolves were so weak on talent. I’d like to see them play together more and give it a try, but yes it hasn’t worked out as well as we all hoped. Al (Jefferson) is a large liability defensively.
    Exhibit D: I mostly agree, although I would say Brewer is a below average wing, not just slightly below average :(.
    Exhibit E: This is true, and yes it has only been one year. He’s basically made moves to clear up a lot of cap space this off season, get rid of bad contracts, but also some talented players. One major disappointment that also surprised the “experts” is Sessions. He has been a big disappointment. Jawai was a bonus if we got anything from him (which we kind of did for a short while), and Hollins has been a slight disappointment too. Darko has been okay. I think it’s too early to tell from this one season. Each move individually has seemed reasonable to me, but so far most of them haven’t really panned out. The moves have, however, set us up for flexibility with the cap this year, which was pretty impressive to accomplish so quickly.
    Exhibit F: It seems like he’s just identifying our best players, and those who have potential to be better and actually play a part on the team in the future. This seems like semantics for you. He’s said Al Jefferson is like a #2 or #3 option on a championship team, so he isn’t deluded.
    As far as your last question, we don’t know how he is as a GM so far. It seems like you don’t like how he speaks, but he seems reasonable to me. He has a see-both-sides-of-it approach, which is nice, since it’s based in reality. Just because the guy can speak doesn’t mean he’s automatically a lying, politician.
    I like Kahn, and will give him the benefit of the doubt for now. It he makes bonehead moves, or doesn’t get anything done in 2 years, he won’t have my support either. I think your points are mostly weak, either not true, misleading, or are based on decisions that are too early to judge.

    It would be interesting to go through each of his moves thus far as a GM and rate them for how they were as moves (a) right then, (b) in the short term (2-3 yrs), and (c) long term. I would also be curious to rate McHale’s moves in a similar way to see how they’ve both rated as GMs.

  4. Who’s Harrington?

  5. @Chris, I applaud your optimism, you’re just in a different place than me with respect to how you view Kahn. We’ll revisit the Kahn regime in a couple of years, as you suggest.

    @Ben: I know I thin-slice what Kahn says too much, but I do it almost reflexively at this point. For example, when Kahn was on the Dan Patrick Show yesterday, he said that he has not put any thought into how Evan Turner or John Wall would fit into the Wolves’ plans because until they knew what pick they had, it was a “waste of time” to look at specific players. That was his way of saying that he didn’t expect to have the #1 or #2 pick. Which is fine and goes with what he has been saying, but then he immediately contradicted himself by saying that he was considering moving up in the draft and that had always been plan B. Immediately two things came to mind:

    (1) a “waste of time”? What is his job other than to think about players he could potentially get, and whether they could help the team and how? Is any GM less busy than Kahn during the playoffs?

    (2) if he figured as a contingency that the Wolves could very well move up from no worse than #5 which presumably doesn’t mean to #4, then how could looking at Wall and Turner be a waste of time regardless of where the Wolves land in the lottery with their own pick?

    Regarding the Lawson trade, my point was not that Kahn could have known who was going to be good or that it didn’t make sense to divest some of the multiple first round picks. My point is only that Kahn doesn’t inspire confidence as a personnel man when he explains “I traded that pick because I identified nobody worth taking.” What purpose does it serve for him to think out loud all the time?

    I don’t think Kahn is an idiot, in fact I think he is very bright notwithstanding his tendency to be overly gregarious. However, being smart and being the right man for a given job are different things. If I were Kahn I’d issue fewer manifestos trying to convince the fans I know what I’m doing, and turn my attention to the troops. K-Love, Flynn and Big Al (Jefferson) seemed genuinely demoralized by the end of the season, and no matter how weak and misleading my specific points may seem to Chris, like most 15-67 teams the Wolves have issues that go beyond people’s good opinion of David Kahn.

  6. Rubio has made it clear he wants to be in new york or a similar spotlight…. I am not sure he stays with the team even if he does come, BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY:

    WOLVES SHOULD TRADE RUBIO TO THE NETS FOR THE 3RD PICK:
    WOLVES DRAFT WESLEY JOHNSON @3 & DeMARCUS COUSINS @4

    The Wolves get a future star shooter, and a true center, with DMC (i’d even give up one our two picks to make this deal for the 3 pick (this draft is really a consensus top 5, and is okay after that and you might get a nice piece with one of our later picks, maybe Willie Warren with the 23rd pick?)… I’d keep both Love and AJ while DMC develops, and that’s a potent big man rotation! If we want to trade AJ or Love in the future we can EASILY pick up an all-star quality guard in exchange. We might be in the lottery one more year to pick up another perimeter piece, but by 2011-21012, Flynn will be matured and we are ready for the playoffs. In the meantime, I am happy to tune in and see how the pieces are developing, very interesting to see. I really like Johnson and thinks he’s a great fit on almost any team, especially ours. I like Rubio, but there are a lot of good young PGs, and I believe, if we have to, we could acquire a Darren Collison, or maybe bolster with a Tony Parker… with the talent that the top teams (lakers, lebron’s next team, etc) have, we have to get big: I think DMC is definitely worth the risk, and if it works, guards will want to play with our front court (otherwise, at best, you end up like Kidd’s Suns, or Nash’s Suns: Rubio isn’t gonna make a team elite without a center on the roster (assuming he stays for his career, bucking KG’s precedent, which I doubt)… but meanwhile, we insure this draft pays off for us and get a great piece in Johnson.

    This pick helps both teams. The Nets have the cap space to acquire a PF, and if Rubio waits it out another year, they probably get a high pick next year. They can afford to pass on Derrick Favors. That Nets owner wants European Flavor, I kind of expect him to also trade for Kirilenko, to help build his brand Russia, and possibly rejuvenate AK47’s career.

  7. These are great ‘best possible outcome’ scenarios, but I can’t believe Wolves fans shouldn’t also prepare themselves a ‘worst possible outcome’ scenario, too. Curious what the blog/readers think this might look like

    This is David Kahn we’re talking about, and this is a franchise well trained in bunker mentalities, after all.

  8. below average production from our 3 first round picks, and shunned by Rubio is a pretty bad case scenario. The second half of that equation is likely.

    WOLVES SHOULD TRADE RUBIO TO THE NETS FOR THE 3RD PICK:
    WOLVES DRAFT WESLEY JOHNSON @3 & DeMARCUS COUSINS @4

    :-)

  9. Carl Nicholas May 22, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    In the grand scheme of things, is Evan Turner that much better than Wesley Johnson?

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