Kahn's (Mongolian) Barbeque

Can you smell what he’s got cooking?

No not the great Twin Cities eatery off of 494 and Portland. I’m talking about new Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations David Kahn cooking up a plan to make the Timberwolves the team holding up the Larry O’Brien trophy at the end of the finals. Can you smell what he’s got cooking? I can… slowly but surely he is letting us into his line of thinking. After a season ticket holder meeting which I addressed here, multiple media breakfasts reports from Jerry Zgoda here and Michael Rand here who it should be noted was quite impressed, “we have to say we came away impressed by the man. He has a clear vision. He speaks with both depth and common sense. Of course, as he also knows, he will not be judged by his likability or even his plan, but his ability to make the right moves — particularly during what he acknowledges are a very important next 16 months,” and a 10 minute interview with Dan Rosen at WCCO, (just search Kahn if you don’t see it on the first page), we all of a sudden have lots of nuggets the line of thinking from the Wolves new boss to breakdown and analyze.

Highlights from all of these include:

  • Kahn again reiterated his point at the media breakfasts that, “On a championship-contending team, Al (Jefferson) might be the second-best player. … Kevin (Love) might be the fourth-best player…We’re setting our sights, appropriately, pretty high…” (Rand)

Again I have to say that as daunting and borderline impossible a taks (read: Either the T-Wolves win the lottery next year or Kahn proves himself to be the best GM in the league through multiple trades the Wolves win decidedly) as it is to acquire an even better player than Jefferson you have to love both the honesty and aggressiveness in this line of thinking. Again keep in mind that by only mentioning Jefferson and Love the odds are high that they are the only guys Kahn will be building around and that everyone else is completely expendable and tradeable.

  • He’d like to complement a core that he considers Al Jefferson, 24, and Kevin Love, 20, with players in the same “age range” who can all grow together. “It’d be great if we could figure out a trade and bring in somebody 25, 26, 27 who could help our team grow from within,” he said. “Otherwise, it is a very painful process.” (Zgoda)
  • It sounds as though he will be very calculating in terms of putting those pieces to use and won’t rush into dealing or signing players for the sake of just making moves. “I would hate to add a bunch of 30-year-olds to be the 8th seed and be right back where we are three years from now,” Kahn said. (Rand)

Wow have to love this understanding of how to rebuild a team in the NBA. How many times did the Wolves (and us fans for that matter) fool themselves into thinking they were one piece away, be it through trade or free agent signing, to being a championship caliber team. Sure we got close in ’04 until the inevitable Wolves bad break came in the form of a Sam Cassell injury, but this was pretty much the Timberwolves M.O. for the K.G. decade, just one more. Here Kahn understands both that in order to rebuild, you really need to rebuild, and that throwing together a team that can compete but not in a significant way is a waste. Could there be a better way to describe the McHale front office plan as “…for the sake of making moves.”? I don’t think so.

  • He wants his organization to be much more “extroverted” in its dealings with other teams and he wants to create a winning culture that will attract prospective free agents by being “upbeat” and “energizing.” He also said McHale’s biggest appeal as coach of such a young team is “he’s relentlessly optimistic and positive” and “able to communicate in a positive fashion.”(Zgoda)

This appears to already be taking effect as the rumblings around the league seem to be that Kahn and the Wolves are the most active team right now. As Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com reports:

No GM in the NBA is apparently more active right now than Minnesota’s David Kahn, as he’s apparently set on “making a big splash in his first draft” according to one NBA executive, and is “talking to everyone” at the moment. One rumor that is making the rounds has Minnesota sending Memphis Kevin Love in exchange for the #2 pick (and filler). Minnesota would then draft Ricky Rubio, which could help them significantly with their ticket sales, and still have the #6 pick at their disposal, which they could use to take someone like Jordan Hill.”

With what Kahn has been saying about building around Jefferson and Love, I’m leary of believing Kahn would move him even to make as big a splash as getting Rubio (Who I’m a believer in, but more on that later). Likewise ESPN.com’s Chad Ford shot down this rumor for a couple of reasons in his chat today:

There have been some rumblings around the league that they were talking to Memphis for what would be Kevin Love for the No. 2 pick. But from what I can gather, that’s pretty bogus. The Wolves do like Rubio … but there are all sorts of problems with them trading away Love … the most obvious is that Love can’t be traded back to the team that traded him in the first place for one year. So anything like that would have to happen after the draft. And, I’m not sure that Love is a perfect fit with Marc Gasol. They need more of a long, athletic shot blocker like … Hasheem Thabeet!

Keep in mind folks there are tons of rumors flying around right now and will increase to a crescendo next week with the draft. Some of them are real bona fide talks and a lot of it is pure misinformation teams are spreading for one reason or the other. That being said we’ll be sure to breakdown everything we can get our hands on regardless. ;)

  • He has designated the next 16 months as a transformative time for the franchise and has chosen that time frame because of what he calls its five “significant bubbles of activity”: The 2009 and 2010 drafts, when the Wolves could have a combined five first-round draft picks, the free-agency periods those two summers and the trading deadline next February, when they conceivably could have more than $26 million in expiring contracts belonging to Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal, Ryan Gomes, Mark Madsen, Craig Smith and Bobby Brown. (Zgoda)
  • Kahn specifically mentioned Randy Foye and Mike Miller being in the last year of their contracts. He seems to place quite a bit of stock in that as a positive bargaining chip in trade possibilities. (Rand)

Wow that’s a lot of salary to be able to move during this next year. In fact the Wolves will only have 4 players, Jefferson, Love, Brewer, and Telfair on the books for
the 2010-2011 season. I’m nothing but excited to see if Kahn can prove to be as good as he already sounds with the flexibility we have and all signs point to it starting with a splash next Thursday night.