Al Jefferson swapped for draft picks and a trade exception? Really?
(I should note that the working title of this post was a directive aimed at David Kahn to not so gently make love to himself)
Since the day David Kahn was hired as the President of the Minnesota Timberwolves I stated plainly and loudly that he was the wrong man for the job. All Kahn has done in the 14 months since taking the reigns is prove me completely and totally right. But this is no “I told you so” article. (Well, maybe a little)
By Peter Christian
I’ve been called a hater, a cynic and a complainer when it comes to the Timberwolves but at some point all that hating, cynicism and complaining has to be looked upon as proper assessment of David Kahn’s ability (or lack thereof) to run an NBA franchise. He took over a team that was in the middle of re-builiding, said he had a 3 year plan to get the team back to the playoffs and the ultimate goal was the NBA Championship. I called BS. Others bought in. I win.
Instead of building upon what was already in place (a unique front line combo of offensive skill and hustle in Jefferson and Kevin Love) he instead went ahead and blew up the foundation and started anew. Kind of. Except that Kahn’s plan of starting over never really had direction. He backed up a good draft pick with a handful of head scratchers. He preached assets and patience while he completely focused on cutting payroll. He hoarded future draft picks and pointed to them as the answer then pissed them away without gaining much in return. And now this.
Now the Timberwolves just traded their best player for nothing.
Al Jefferson got shipped to the Utah Jazz for 2 protected draft picks and a trade exception. Yes, the same player that was the central player in the Kevin Garnett trade just got dumped for a couple late round picks and a $13 million trade exception. For those keeping score at home: the outcome of the Kevin Garnett trade has resulted in nothing. Jefferson got traded for 2 draft picks, Ryan Gomes got given away so another team could waive him, Sebastian Telfair was part of the package that acquired Quentin Richardson who in turn was traded for Mark Blount’s smaller buyout (i.e. nothing) and the first round pick from Boston was used to draft Wayne Ellington (might as well be nothing).
People can (and they will) argue that those picks can maybe turn into something good. Again, I call BS. David Kahn has two years of NBA Drafts under his belt. He’s stacked up grades of “F” and “F minus” respectively. Trading the team’s most talented player for draft picks isn’t ever a good idea. When you’ve proven you SUCK at evaluating NBA players, it’s an atrocious idea. And as for that trade exception… well, those are only valuable if your team is over the salary cap. The Timberwolves are under the cap by about $13 million. Unless the Wolves plan on trading for a player that makes $26 million this season, that trade exception is completely worthless. (Edit: The exception can’t be used in addition to cap space, so the Wolves would have to take on $13 million in salary first, then they could use the exception. Either way, it’s not going to happen)
The organization will likely respond in the same manner they have in the past, “Fans need to be patient… our plan is liquid… acquiring assets…” it’s old and worthless. David Kahn lying every time he opens his mouth. He has no plan to make the Timberwolves better. There’s no chance in Hell he’ll accomplish the goals of the “Three Year Plan” he announced when he was hired. In fact the only direction I see the Timberwolves headed in is one that costs the least amount of money. Yet, Kahn keeps talking about building a winner. He’s either lying or he’s an idiot. I’m relatively sure he’s both.
David Kahn’s plan of clearing cap space and acquiring assets has been a complete rouse. Why on Earth would Kahn think cap space would matter? Any idiot with a quarter of a brain knew that none of the top 15 free agents of this summer were going to sign in Minnesota, yet Kahn spoke to fans as if he was going to land one of those guys. Instead he wasted almost half of the team’s cap space on a certified bust who wanted out of the league and a European player big man that has no NBA experience.
He defended his draft strategies (the ones where he throws a dart at a board divided 5 ways, each partition representing a different position, and whichever position the dart lands in, that is the only position he drafts) by saying he’s picking up assets to help make the team better. Except when Kahn trades those “assets” he gets nothing back for them. Literally, nothing.
Last year, the Timberwolves were the 2nd worst team in the NBA in record, and were the worst team in point differential. For the 2010-11 season, they just traded their best offensive player and made zero effort to improve defensively. To say the upcoming season looks bleak is like saying Dr. Seuss wrote books that were slightly geared toward child readers.
The Wolves have a President/GM who has no foreseeable direction, has a terrible track record in drafts and gets swindled nearly every time he makes a trade. Yet we’re supposed to be patient? Our patience is already wearing thin.
We’ve been patient for 6 years and now we get to look forward to a year with an even crappier team than the year before which was even worse than what Kevin McHale put together. Think about that for a minute. David Kahn, in his efforts to improve the team (or at least claiming to be doing so), has taken McHale’s mess and made it worse. Twice. In fact, the point should be made that Kahn is going out of his way to undo every thing McHale left him at the cost of the organization. Only Kevin Love and Corey Brewer remain as holdovers from the McHale era (conspiracy theory? probably best tackled another day) and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were given away soon.
Lost in all of the discussion about the giving away of Al Jefferson is the other recent head-shaking transactions that Kahn has pulled the trigger on. First, was getting Michael Beasley for two future 2nd round picks. On the surface, that trade was Kahn’s Opus. It was brilliant. He took two draft picks that he would almost certainly screw up and got a player that once was thought of as having amazing potential. However, looking at it more closely it is confusing because Beasley plays the same position that they over indulged on during the draft (Small Forward). Second, the team is close to signing Luke Ridnour. In case you weren’t aware (because David Kahn obviously isn’t), Ridnour plays point guard. The same position that they used two lottery picks (Ricky Rubio and Johnny Flynn) on last season. The same position that their free agent signing from last summer (Ramon Sessions) plays. Yup, 3 point guards on the roster, another big time point guard sitting in Europe. And still David Kahn’s smile beams with arrogance every time he’s on TV.
Mind you, Kahn has said publicly he expects Ricky Rubio to play for the Timberwolves next year. Next year when he still has Sessions, Flynn and Ridnour still under contract. For the people who are like David Kahn and struggle with counting, that’s four point guards. Couple that with the three small forwards under contract, two centers (one unproven, one proven to suck) one power forward and two shooting guards who can’t shoot and the team looks destined to fail again in 2011-12.
But wait. Isn’t that supposed to be the year the “Three Year Plan” culminates?
There are times when “I told you so” just doesn’t feel satisfying.