Archives For David Kahn

After dallying with Terry Porter, Bernie Bickerstaff and Mike Woodson last week, the Glen Taylor and David Kahn appear to be getting into the heart of the order as it were. The affable, Yeltsin-esque Don Nelson interviewed with the Wolves on Sunday while Rick Adelman spoke with the team on Saturday. If you’re an Adelman fan, it is probably not a great sign that he chose the phone as his preferred interview medium.  Kind of like when I spent an entire day of fifth grade psyching myself up to ask L____ to “go with me” and then when I finally did she responded by telling me she’d “think about it.” (Twenty years later, and I’m still married to her (not true).)

Word is, too, that Larry Brown lurks on the horizon. I very much hope that this never becomes enough of a reality that I’ll have to explain why its a nightmarishly bad idea. And does anyone else get the nagging feeling that flirting with all of these Living Legends of Coaching seems to make the team somehow less credible? Doesn’t it kind of feel like the Wolves are trying a little too hard to look cool?

As for my analysis on the situation, I’ll defer to commenter Biggity2bit who hopes that the Wolves “make Adelman a contract offer today, and if he pauses when looking at it that Kahn or Glen lean over and add an extra ‘zero’ to the end of the number and give it back to Adelman.”

 

Rambis, the bullets

Benjamin Polk —  July 13, 2011 — 1 Comment

Photo by Will Keightley

These days, Wolves fans have to instinctively wince a little whenever we find our crew in the national media.  But thanks to the Kurt Rambis odyssey (“fiasco” or “debacle” could also suffice), here we are. So here are some more tidbits:

Thing is, the Wolves were already the fastest team in the league last year, averaging 96.5 possessions per 48 minutes. They were also one of the very worst in the league at converting fastbreak opportunities and turning the ball over…If Kahn is in fact trying to model his roster after these rare speed demons [early decade Kings, ’08 Lakers, D’Antoni-era Suns], he’s doing a miserable job. Those teams were built with play-making veterans, unselfish offensive philosophies, deft passing from all five positions and consistent 3-point shooters. These elements of efficiency and execution were necessary to win by imposing an uptempo style of play night in and night out against top competition. Kahn’s teams have not even approached a single element of what made these offenses so great.

True enough. I would also add: the Wolves played at such a high pace largely because they so deeply loved turning the ball over. Lots of quick turnovers means lots of possessions that end before they begin, which means more possessions per game.

  • This is hilarious: rumor is that Don Nelson is interested in the Wolves’ coaching vacancy (thanks to College Wolf for the tip).  In some ways, this makes a little sense. David Kahn wants that “uptempo DNA” and holy smokes, Nellie certainly has that. What’s more, with his knack for dissolving positional distinctions in order to create matchup anarchy, he would seem somehow suited for the Wolves’ oddly sized front court mishmash. On the other hand, its hard to see how the Wolves would address their defensive problems by hiring a coach who almost literally stopped coaching defense in Golden State. (Also, does Nellie know that Anthony Randolph plays for the Wolves?).
  • The Wolves’ rumored plan to hire Bernie Bickerstaff to mentor his son J.B., would seem a bit more complicated now that J.B. has agreed to join Kevin McHale in Houston. Seriously, what are they going to do?

Harper on Rambis

Benjamin Polk —  July 13, 2011 — 5 Comments

Over at Truehoop, Zach has the definitive account of the Rambis era:

Rambis was not a very good coach over the past two years. His teams were inefficient offensively and abhorrent defensively. Last season, it seemed that he was one of the worst fourth-quarter coaches in the entire league because of how the Wolves seemed to kick away leads. (Yes, they actually had fourth-quarter leads.)…However, the way he’s been treated by Kahn and the Wolves organization in the past two months might be the most embarrassing part of this entire era. Rambis should have been fired right after the regular season ended. There was no real reason to drag this out. It’s just another case of the Wolves mismanaging a personnel decision within the organization. The Wolves already should have a head coach and be ready to make roster decisions once the lockout ends. Instead, they’ve once again been making moves without a head coach in place for the upcoming season.

All true. Here’s what I would add, though. Zach points out that, partially because Rambis was hired after the roster was set in 2009, this team was never temperamentally or compositionally cut out to run the triangle.  But its widely known that Tex Winter’s offense requires an exceptionally steep learning curve for young players. My impression was that, by hiring Rambis and giving him a four year deal, the Wolves were taking the long view, acknowledging that this would take some time and patience, that no team as young as the Wolves could ever have learned the system in two short years. Given that Kahn and Taylor appear to have run out of patience after just two seasons, one wonders why Rambis was hired and given such a vote of confidence to begin with.

Well, our long national nightmare is over. The Timberwolves have finaly announced that Kurt Rambis has been “relieved” of his coaching duties. (I continue to love that sickly passive aggressive-phrase: “Oh, thank you so very much for doing me the favor of relieving me of my duties. It’s such a terrific relief.”) From the Wolves:

“I want to thank Kurt for his contributions to our franchise and wish him the best in his future endeavors,” said David Kahn, Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations. “His arrival signaled we were serious about building a championship-contending ballclub over the course of time. We have accumulated a solid nucleus of young talent with a bright future during the last two years. I am hopeful Kurt receives his share of the credit for helping develop that talent and his contributions are not forgotten as we become a better basketball team. It is always hard to make these decisions. It is especially hard when it involves somebody of Kurt’s reputation. Even so, this is the right time for us to make a head coaching change now that we’ve identified our roster and its specific needs.”

See post below.

When it comes to the Timberwolves, it make little sense to mince words. After consecutive pleasant surprises against New Orleans and Houston last week, the Wolves’ final four games leading into the All-Star break were pretty disheartening. These games were wrapped in an aura of grim defeat. Physical and emotional fatigue permeated the air.

But let’s please be a little bit generous with our Wolves. These losses were the culmination of an exhausting string of injuries and absences, in which the depleted Wolves struggled–admirably, for the most part, if futilely–to craft some coherence from the ruins.

And so I’m not prepared, on the basis of those four unpalatable losses, to call this season an unmitigated disaster. This is not rock bottom. The truth is that, win totals notwithstanding, this team is an improvement over last year. They have played competitive basketball against some of the best teams in the league. They are more energetic and athletic; they are more creative. They can usually shoot the ball pretty well; sometimes they even engage in the kind of sublimely unconscious ball-movement that is the hallmark of the Triangle offense.

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Notes on a dark Sunday

Benjamin Polk —  January 24, 2011 — 3 Comments

Run Ricky, Run

Question: is it a good or bad thing when the New York Times wonders aloud if the  putative savior of your franchise is over the hill at age 20? “Through 28 games in the 2010-11 season,” says Jonathan Givony in the Old Gray Lady, “[Ricky] Rubio has continued to struggle. He is shooting just 32 percent from the field, including 11 of 61 from beyond the arc, and his team has lost more games in the ACB and in the Euroleague than it did all of last season. Why has Rubio’s development stalled? Will he be able to turn his potential into production?”

Good, sobering questions. The piece also includes a nicely in-depth look at the financial implications of Rubio’s coming decision. Things are definitely more complicated than David Kahn would have us believe. Here’s how the article ends: “‘I’m not focused on the N.B.A. right now,’ Rubio said. ‘Right now, I don’t want to talk and I don’t want to think.’” Oh boy.

Faces of Death

Our sincere hope is that none of us will ever have to experience a basketball season as desperately miserable as the Cleveland Cavaliers 2010/2011 campaign. But if we do, I can only hope that we’ll have someone like John Krolik of Cavs: the Blog to read. Routinely plumbing the depths of a team this hopeless and emerging with sanity and good humor intact is a serious project and Krolik is taking it seriously.

Not only is he summoning up the courage to actually analyze this punishingly irrelevant squad, but check out some of the recent entry titles: Whoever said ‘that’s why they play the games’ was not talking about this game bullets; The Cavs totally would have won this game if they didn’t suck bullets; History is now chasing us, and we cannot run fast enough bullets. He has a post called “Most things in life are less terrible than the Cavaliers.” That’s intense!

Watching Krolik waver between indignation and resigned exhaustion is pretty compelling in a wrenching, Cassavetes-esque kind of way. Cavs: The Blog is a painful place right now, but I suggest you read it anyway.

Photo by Terry Bain

Here’s an interesting thing David Kahn said in his FSN live chat on Wednesday:

I think we have too many wing players and it may be something we have to address, if not before the deadline then certainly next summer. The concept was we would create a lot of competition for playing time in practices but I don’t think it works as well. It works more theoretically than practically.

Of course, the Wolves’ wing bounty was one of the primary criticisms leveled at Kahn and Rambis this offseason. And as recently as last month, Kahn and Tony Ronzone were still defending those moves on the aforementioned grounds: that competition would raise everybody’s level of play and allow the Wolves to identify the best players of the bunch.

So it’s pretty striking for Kahn to now admit that this little experiment hasn’t worked as the team had hoped. My guess is that it has to do with the recent struggles of Martell Webster and Wes Johnson.

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Blake Griffin prepares to transcend Samsara.

As Hanny and Jim Pete repeated more than once, Wednesday night’s Wolves-Clippers matchup was likely the most highly anticipated game in the entire history of this storied rivalry.  And it turned out more strangely than I could have imagined.

The strangest of all is a point that Myles alluded to in his writeup: Kevin Love actually did a solid job of forcing Blake Griffin into tough shots, but then couldn’t prevent Griffin from putting back his own miss, often in stunning style. Of course, Love then proceeded to grab 10 boards in the second half while matching up with the 7-foot tall, 300-foot wingspanned human elevator, Deandre Jordan. So I thought this called for some rebounding bullets. There’s also a little Jonny Flynn and David Kahn in this mix.

My interview with Kevin Love was another treasure trove that I couldn’t really find a place for. Picture: an insanely cold day. Me drinking tea at the Starbucks across from the Target Center. A very tall man sitting across from me at an embarrassingly small table answering my questions–about his role on the team, his relationship with Kurt Rambis and the entire controversy over his minutes–with candor and good humor. I appreciate that.

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Photo by Rubyblossom

Two new internet sightings caught my attention recently. The first is an acidic little number by Matt Moore at ProBasketballTalk. It’s sort of a dark Socratic dialogue riffing on Darko’s recent resurgence. The piece is called “Three Good Games from Darko Justifies the Kahn Era…or Something”. Let’s take a peak:

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