Some people only get so many chances to prove that they’re incompetent. Others get to prove they suck at their jobs daily. Minnesota Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations David Kahn appears to be in the latter. That trend needs to end now.
For anyone who has discussed the Minnesota Timberwolves with me for more than two seconds over the past 20 months, you knew this was coming.
By Peter Christian
Look, I’m not going to be pounding my chest and screaming from everywhere that I was spot on about David Kahn’s abilities as an NBA GM from the day he was hired (I’ve done it already, I’m moving on) but it should be pointed out that I have much better foresight than Mr. Kahn appears to have.
It seems that the trade deadline actions of Kahn, or lack thereof, have finally gotten Timberwolves fans, media members and bloggers in uproar, but a simple look back at his track record indicates that no one should be surprised by Kahn’s inability to make the team better even though the team has never been in a better position to make drastic improvements.
Without re-hashing every bad decision that Kahn has made since accepting the job as Timberwolves President in May of 2009 and then criticizing the 3rd grade level excuses the man blanketed over those decisions I want to look back at his tenure to effectively show that he indeed was ill-equipped to be the leader and organizer of an NBA roster.
First, was the mishandling of giving Kevin McHale the boot, followed by the now comical 2009 NBA Draft in which Kahn collected point guards like they were baseball cards then traded the wrong one away. That was followed by one of the most unintentionally funny NBA draft moments that didn’t involve David Stern butchering a name or an 18-22 year old’s behavior/suit after getting drafted.
After selecting Ricky Rubio and Johnny Flynn with back to back picks, Kahn boldly stated that he anticipated both could play in the Timberwolves backcourt simultaneously. It was at that point that people started wondering if he’d ever seen a basketball game in his life.
Then there was the hiring of Kurt Rambis. Poor Kurt Rambis. Rambis took the job likely because he thought it would be a good jumping off point to start his head coaching career. Yet, he failed to recognize that Kahn didn’t have the capability to assemble a team to match his coaching style. As much as Timberwolves fans loved the hiring of Rambis (I didn’t), it’s clear that Rambis was not the guy the Wolves needed at their helm. I’ll casually slide that decision into the “Mistakes David Kahn Made” pile.
The next decision that is rarely mentioned anymore is the manner in which David Kahn handled the negotiations with Ricky Rubio and his people prior to the 2009 season. According to Kahn, there was a handshake deal in place for Rubio to leave Spain and play for the Wolves, which Rubio then backed out of to sign with Regal FC Barcelona. Kahn, a man of superior integrity, bashed Rubio and his family for the 18 year old’s actions of going back on his word. That was one way to hopefully entice Rubio to come to Minnesota in the future.
The first three months of Kahn’s tenure was just a preview as to the kind of decision making skills that would be guiding the Minnesota Timberwolves. This was further evidenced with questionable trades (see: Al Jefferson), more questionable draft day decisions (see: trading for Martell Webster, Lazar Hayward), bad signings and of course, terrible excuses.
Everything came to a head this week as the Timberwolves had everything that Kahn said he needed in order to build a winning franchise (cap space and assets) and the Timberwolves President/GM sat on his hands as the most active trade deadline of the decade came and went.
Yep, the opportunity for Kahn to showcase his “skills” as a prime-time commodities trader passed with barely more than a few whimpers from the team.
Sure, there was a few rumors that were thrown around in the media, but nothing came to fruition. It was a bigger letdown than Rocky V.
Of course there were more excuses. Kahn stated after the deadline that the team was not willing to add salary due to the possibility of a lower luxury tax or a hard cap in the next CBA (which is nowhere near to being finalized) but instead they are looking to making more draft day moves in June and then will be in position to take team’s cast-offs should there be a hard cap or lower luxury tax threshold. As wonderful as that sounds as an explanation, Kahn is only spewing more BS. As the folks at Canis Hoopus (a Timberwolves blog) explained yesterday, stating that the team won’t add salary today but will on draft day is a load of crap since draft day is still part of the current CBA and the specifics for the next CBA won’t be known until AFTER the draft is over.
Additionally, it’s irresponsible to use the impending collective bargaining agreement as an excuse since there has been so little discussion about it to this point. However, using the Kahn Method, why worry about today’s faults when you can blame them on something in the future?
The future that Kahn keeps pointing to is only getting nearer and the team is no better now than the day before he took over. Though he keeps talking about the future as if he’s got plenty of time.
If Wolves owner, Glen Taylor, had any fortitude he would tell Kahn he’s relieved of his duties effective immediately. It’s been one poor transaction after another with Kahn and to assume he’ll ever get better is akin to assuming that Charlie Sheen will announce that he’s really an undercover DEA agent.
Unfortunately, it’s more likely that prior to being shown the door, he’ll actually do more damage to the franchise. By more damage, I mean he’ll throw Rambis under the bus (fire him, blame him for the team not performing, even though it was Kahn’s decision that he was head coach) and make a couple of panic moves in an effort to save his job. With, Kahn’s track record though, it’s more likely that those panic moves will cripple the team even more and put it in an even worse situation than it’s in now (and about 10 times worse than the day he took over, no really).
So as much criticism as Kahn has gotten recently, it’s still not enough. He deserves more. He deserves to be fired so that he can’t ruin the team any more and so someone with one iota of competence can take over and start actually picking up the pieces.
Then again, hoping for all of those things is like hoping every Nicolas Cage movie will be awesome. Sadly, the chances of the latter are far more likely to happen.