Archives For 2013 Offseason

Exit Brandon Roy

Benjamin Polk —  May 11, 2013 — 19 Comments

Pretty much immediately upon assuming office as Timberwolves’ President of Basketball Ops, Flip Saunders excised David Kahn’s final boondoggle. As should probably have happened halfway through last season, Brandon Roy has been waved. Here’s Flip waxing sentimental on the end of the Brandon Roy era: “We wish Brandon and his family all the best in the future.” Your desk should be cleaned out by 5:00, please. Also, we hope you enjoy this nice watch (and the $5 million you made last year).

Kahn has a few majestic failures to his name, but most of his moves were mediocrities of this sort. Easily defensible moves with relatively low risk that simply didn’t pan out. Many of these shone with Kahn’s signature grandiose faux-humility, which made it easy to relish their failure–thinking here of the Beasley and Anthony Randolph trades and the Darko experiment. But the Brandon Roy story was sadder and more poignant. Roy is an incredibly good basketball player who, at 28-years-old, would be in the heart of his prime right now if he had any cartilage left in his knees. Kahn’s gamble would have paid off if Roy would have been able to access even a shred of the talent his body surely still possesses. But he couldn’t. His stat line from last year is almost cruel: Five games; 5.8 points; 4.6 assists; 2.8 rebounds in 24.4 minutes per game. Brandon Roy deserves better.

 

I was intending to post something supremely thoughtful on the David Kahn era this coming weekend. But before I could get my thoughts/act together, Henry posted a piece on Truehoop which was essentially what I was intending to say. Its worth reading in full, but the gist of it, to my eyes, was this: David Kahn was a sub-mediocre general manager with a weird, abrasive personality. He made one very great move (trading up to draft Ricky Rubio), one spectacularly bad one (drafting Jonny Flynn over Stephen Curry) and a bunch that shade somewhere to the wrong side of the middle. He restored the team to fiscal sanity, but drafted exceptionally poorly. He wooed two of the team’s three best players from overseas, but mortally alienated its only bona fide superstar. He hired Rick Adelman, but he also hired Kurt Rambis. He signed AK; he signed Darko. Like I said, sub-mediocre. But the reason he is considered to be monumentally bad is because he is such a strange dude. Here’s Henry:

All of which is to say I have glimpsed Kahn’s odd, bitter personality. I can guess why his various stops have been short, and why he has been in the business for a long time without developing many allies. I join a big crowd in not crying for Kahn today. 

So yup, call him an iconoclastic crank who’s short of friends and long on big, pompous mistakes. 

But please, don’t call him the worst GM in the NBA. 

Henry adds to this account today with a report that the Blazers have agreed to pay the Wolves $1.5 million to resolve the Martell Webster dispute, news that comes as a surprise to those of us who assumed that the Wolves’ claim was laughable.

Update: In case you are interested, here is Kahn’s “exit interview” with Jerry Zgoda in the STrib. By now, Kahn’s mode has become pretty predictable: Kahn talks up the Wolves fortunes, takes partial responsibility for his own failures while subtly shifting blame to Taylor and McHale. Check out this last bit though:

Q. Why did you say [Kevin Love] needs to win back the respect of his teammates?
A. I think there’s some work for him to be done in terms of, he didn’t play very much this year, right? And I think there’s a void there because of that. Many of those guys really fought their way back from injury, sometimes multiple injuries. He had two broken hands. He came back once, didn’t play well, broke his hand again and then decided to have his knee done at the end of the year when the pain was such. I think he has some work to in the locker room and I believe he will. I certainly don’t want that to come across negatively. I believe he will and I believe he’s on the right path.

This is just classic Kahn, the exact stuff that earns him his reputation. Subtly casting aspersions on Love’s toughness and desire to play–which, while Love may not always be an ideal teammate, I think its ridiculous to malign those particular qualities in him–while attemping to frame it as some act of generosity and mentorship on his own part. Guy, I realize that you don’t want that “to come off negatively” but you just suggested that your best player has lost the respect of his teammates by not coming back from an injury. Honestly, how do you expect that to come off? You could write this off as a slightly bitter farewell by a guy who just lost his job–if it didn’t conform so closely to the patterns Kahn has established throughout his tenure.

Flip it!

On the latest episode of Flip This House, Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor has reportedly agreed to a contract with Flip Saunders to be the new president of basketball operations. This means the old president of basketball operations, David Kahn, is not going to have his team option for next season picked up.  Continue Reading…

A Lou among Wolves

Ricky Rubio Instragram’d a photo of a vacation in Puerto Rico in which Greg Stiemsma, Dante Cunningham, and JJ Barea joined Rubio in trying to woo unrestricted free agent Lou Amundson.

Teams can’t officially start talking to teams before July 1st, but that doesn’t mean players can’t do a little “light tampering” by inviting their friends to a great weekend vacation in Puerto Rico. It’s nice to see Rubio and the other Wolves’ players take the initiative to improve this team’s talent level before the rest of the organization is allowed to.

That’s how title teams come together, folks.

(Photo via Instagram)

UPDATE: I will come up with a sarcasm meter that is very AWAW, but from the suggestion of Brian and the response of a few on Twitter, let’s just use this one for now.

sarcasmMeter-1266531711

Lou is just good friends with everybody on the team still.

Kahn still on the job

Benjamin Polk —  April 27, 2013 — 7 Comments

Before we praise/bury David Kahn and/or Glen Taylor and/or Flip Saunders, lets be clear on one thing: nothing has been confirmed by anybody. Taylor has been silent; Kahn is acting like he still has a job; Flip ain’t saying one way or another. And while this is all most likely the typical “cannot-confirm-or-deny” waltz as performed by every owner and prospective hire before things become official, better recognize: nothing is official. Indeed, Kahn is seeming rather sanguine about the whole affair. As quoted in the Strib:

It is no different than when we make decisions on players who have options. We wait for the process to unfold. In the meantime, Glen and I have been having conversations about the staff, free agency and other plans…I wake up every day knowing it’s a privilege to have this job, and not a right. Speculation about our jobs is part of this business, especially when you strip the emotion out of it. Speculation is especially understandable now, as we have a deep and talented team, with several cornerstone players, and will be poised for big success once it regains its health.

If this seems oddly low-key for a guy on the precipice, its worth remembering that Kahn has presided over this exact situation before. So he’s no stranger to the Wolves’ allowing an incumbent to twist in the wind for a while as a decision is being made. Wow, the Wolves sure are ungraceful in situations like this. Makes you wonder why anybody would want to work for them in the first place.

 

I'm using this photo because it's a picture of Flip Saunders holding a sandwich and therefore funny.

I’m using this photo because it’s a picture of Flip Saunders holding a sandwich and therefore funny.

With the return of Flip Saunders to Minnesota as the new President of Basketball Operations of the Timberwolves looking likely (per the consistently reliable Steve Aschburner of NBA.com), we have the difficult duty of simultaneously exhaling a sigh of relief over the end of David Kahn’s tenure while holding our breath over what Saunders’ hiring might augur.

It’s very early in an evolving situation, but that’s not stopping people from both coming down hard on one side or the other of this hiring and asking everyone else to do so as well. I’d rather not do that; we’re a long way from the start of the next season and a lot of other things are going to happen between now and then that will affect the Wolves. Continue Reading…

Kahn

Is it time to Flip out?

Let’s just cut to the chase. Our friend Steve Aschburner of NBA.com is reporting that the Wolves are working out a four-year, $9 million that will bring Flip Saunders in to be the president of basketball operations. David Kahn is currently the president of basketball operations. So that leaves us with a math problem here.

You have one president of basketball operations already. You want to bring in another basketball of operations but you only have room for ONE president of basketball operations. So in order to accomplish this move, what mathematic operation do you need to accomplish this goal? I’ll have the answer to this math problem after an excerpt from Asch’s column on NBA.com:

Former NBA head coach Flip Saunders is expected to return to the Minnesota Timberwolves as the team’s next president of basketball operations, NBA.com has learned.

Saunders, 58, has been negotiating a contract that, with option years, could run through the 2017-18 season and could be worth more than $9 million over the full five years, according to league sources who requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the hiring.

The move, which could become official as soon as next week, would end David Kahn‘s controversial tenure after four seasons and an 89-223 record during which the Timberwolves’ failure to reach the playoffs stretched to nine consecutive seasons. Kahn’s contract includes a team option for 2013-14 that will not be exercised.

The answer to the math problem above is SUBTRACTION. You use subtraction. And really if the reports are true, it’s addition by subtraction.

According to a few people around the Wolves and the NBA that I’ve talked to, Kahn was never supposed to be making the basketball decisions of the organization when he was hired back in May of 2009. He was supposed to handle the contracts, money and business side of it. For whatever reason (details have been murky about this), Kahn ended up being the de facto decision-maker when it came to the actual basketball side of this. Again, I have no idea if this is the absolute truth here but I’ve been told it by a handful of people, so I think there’s some partial truth in there.

He was asked to fill a role he wasn’t really capable of doing, and he was asked to do it for years. During those years, he managed to alienate the majority of the fan base, a lot of people around the league, and even his own star player. He always made cheap, high reward-low risk moves that never came to fruition and tried to trade Love multiple times (even after his breakout season). And now he’s being replaced by Flip Saunders, who may or may not be a good front office decision-maker.

We also don’t know if Adelman is going to leave or not. What we do know is if this report is true and this is settled by next week, a big cloud over the organization has dissipated. It doesn’t mean another cloud can’t replace it, but for now, you can start to feel confident about the continued direction this team seems to be headed.

Thoughts?