In regarding David Kahn’s reign you need to consider the beginning and the mess the Wolves had before he even arrived and did his Flynn number on the ’09 draft.
It’s hard to think back to the final days of Kevin McHale’s run with the Wolves. Towards the end of the Kevin Garnett era, the mediocre corner the Wolves had painted themselves into was so painfully drawn out that by the time KG had been moved, it wasn’t so much about the haul the Wolves thought they had received in the trade, but the new direction it would point them in.
Al Jefferson’s Timberwolves were intriguing because McHale was excited about a real throwback, back to the basket big man like the one he couldn’t turn KG into.
Soon it was obvious to McHale’s followers. No more would they have a defensive smart bomb tattooed in their starting lineup at power forward. The unselfish passing out of the post would no longer exist at Target Center. Kevin Love was still a puppy who wanted to play. Glen Taylor could even read the writing on the wall and the David Kahn era was officially on its tragicomic way.
Henry Abbott over at True Hoop wrote some words about Kahn’s exit. The intro painted a sunny picture I would like to bask in on this Mother’s Day.
The most common reaction is, what took owner Glen Taylor so long? (Be warned: that link’s to Twitter, and this is Kahn. The language can get salty.) There’s nothing everyone in the NBA agrees on, except perhaps that David Kahn was horrible at his job.
His mistakes were many and public. Jonny Flynn — last seen playing out his prime basketball years in Australia — ought not to have been a lottery pick. Ditto Wesley Johnson. It’s awesome to have a player like Kevin Love and unforgivable to have jerked him around when it was time for a contract. These mistakes and others are all real.
But ask yourself this, or other GMs who love to feed the fires of Kahn mock: If Kahn’s such an idiot, how come the Timberwolves roster is in better shape than your team, with affordable young talent, payroll flexibility and real upside?
Nikola Pekovic is among the NBA’s most effective centers, and while he was drafted by Kahn’s predecessor, Kahn got him to come to the U.S. and play for the bargain price of $4.8 million. Everyone mocked Kahn for committing close to $20 million over two years to Andrei Kirilenko, who had been out of the league, but how many playoff teams would kill for an elite defender and long, efficient offensive player at that price right now? (My guess: All of them.) Dante Cunningham is making $2 million and is no stiff. Ricky Rubio at $3.7 million and Alexey Shved at $2.9 million are problems every owner would like to have.
The Timberwolves have middling salaries now, and among the league’s lowest payroll moving forward. They were 12-9 to start this season without the injured Love, and a happy story, before injuries savaged the Twin Cities, claiming Love (again), Brandon Roy and almost every other key player for long stretches.
No, the roster’s not dreamy. But with a decently healthy season, they’d be telling a whole ‘nother story about this team.
There are far worse-off teams than the Timberwolves, and by extension, far better candidates for “worst GM in the NBA” than Kahn.