Does any Timberwolves fan remember getting this kind of attention from the blogs when our team was just kind of weak, perennially not making the play-offs, not quite the worst team in the league, but maybe just the 5th or 6th or even occasionally, the 8th worst team in the league?
I mean, go ahead, and watch the video, and you'll see that David Kahn says some stuff he probably shouldn't. That's one of the things I like about him. After how many years of the Kevin McHale brain trust, in which nothing was wrong, every player was awesome, we were just one Ricky Davis away, and (oh yeah) the NBA took away draft picks from us because we needed Joe freaking Smith just that badly, Kahn is a breath of fresh air.
I have no idea why national bloggers like Kelly Dwyer at Yahoo Sport's Ball Don't Lie have such an axe to grind with Kahn. The guy has been in charge for just about a year, and he's completely revamped a franchise that was old, tired and pretty much without hope. Some credit needs to go to the previous regime (McHale) for getting a decent deal for KG when it was time to ship him, but the series of missteps that regime made was so fucking ridiculous that I had completely given up on the team, as had the media. When Kahn's first season began, the Wolves were not on TV at all. He promised a losing season, and maybe two, and maybe a third, before he got his players in place. He's well on his way, and we will judge him on that, but this kind of shit drives me nuts. Let's go the Blogosphere-Tape:
It began on Wednesday, when the Al Jefferson trade was made official--the Wolves took their best player, who has knee injury issues, and a history of not really caring about defense (as everyone acknowledges), and was playing the exact same position as Kevin Love, and got two first round picks, and more cap space for their trouble, and big ol' Kosta Koufas, too. (To see why only getting 2 first round picks don't bother me, see here)
Kelly did not care for that trade for the Timberwolves, at all: "They're a mess. They got Kosta Koufos in the deal, and he might be worth taking a look at, but they've completely wasted all the assets they've had come through Minnesota over the last few years. Al Jefferson and Kevin Love couldn't play together, but this was the best deal possible? And is when you make the deal? For a trade exception and picks? Such a waste."
Past few years? Well, Kahn has only been in charge a year, so most of that isn't on him. Assets? Randy Foye? Mike Miller? I'd argue that the Wolves are a mess, but with purpose. A purposeful mess. As I'm sure Kelly Dwyer has noted--teams in the Central Time Zone don't do a great job attracting Free Agent Talent just because the city has such an allure. You have to have a team in place, one that seems like it is young and coming, not just struggling to finish 5 games over .500. If that means a couple of lost seasons to develop talent, so be it. LeBron left Cleveland; Dwayne Wade didn't seem to interested in returning to Milwaukee (something that went unremarked upon, for some reason). The Wolves struggling to 10th place wasn't a Big Seller, for some reason.
The anti-Kahn spirit continued on the next day. Discussing the Luke Ridnour signing, Dwyer said, "God, how Timberwolves fans wish David Kahn lived in a vacuum. A big, giant, sucky one."
I'm going out on a limb and assume that Dwyer wasn't here for the McHale years. I actually live in the Twin Cities, and let me tell you something--loud, talky, maybe crazy David Kahn doesn't bother us at all. We lived through the Joe Smith thing, the Nbudi Ebi thing, the Ricky Davis thing, the Troy Hudson ("T-Hud") thing, the Marko Jaric thing. Here's a quote from 2008 that I lived through, when the Timberwolves waived Theo Ratliff. Kevin McHale said, "This provides us an opportunity to play our younger post players - Craig Smith and Chris Richard - and give us more time to continue to evaluate them." Read those names again. We needed time to evaluate who? For what? I'll take crazy Kahn over reasonable McHale, and so will 95% of all Timberwolves fans.
When David Kahn came to the Wolves, not only was Craig Smith still a tradeable resource, so was Mark Madsen. MARK MADSEN. I don't think the likes of Kelly Dwyer get that. Mark Madsen wasn't on the bench; he was playing. Chris Richard was playing. Craig Smith was considered valuable. Tearing this franchise down to the foundation was welcomed by Minnesota fans.
Dwyer also thinks that signing Ridnour weakens the trade position that the Wolves have for Ramon Sessions. Except, it's just Ramon Sessions. We have a lot of point guards. Someone out there (Bobcats?) really needs one. I think we are OK if we have more point guards than we need. It's better than having fewer than we need, and I don't think Ramon Sessions is really worth this kind of screed: "As if people didn't think — after haggling for weeks last summer, and after watching the way coach Kurt Rambis completely misused Sessions throughout 2009-10 — that you couldn't give a rip whether he was on your roster or not?" Um, who cares if they know that or not? They need a point guard--the Wolves know that, too. And the Wolves have nothing to lose; they'll keep Sessions purely out of spite. I like that. I mean really, "Oh no, we may not get great value for...Ramon Sessions?" Yawn and Over the top Eye-roll commencing....now.
But what do the experts think of what David Kahn is up to? Locally, we have no idea. But screw our local beat writers, who spend all their time with the team--Kelly Dwyer has a "mate"--"If you're unfamiliar with Kahn's work, understand that a good mate of mine, completely unsolicited, sent me a text Wednesday using words I couldn't hope to replicate in polite company, whilst wondering out loud if the Wolves GM might be eligible for a certain type of bus pass."
Yes, let's all defer to Dwyer's unnamed, potentially idiotic "mate". Because, presumably, he understands how professional basketball management works. Why not? We don't know that he doesn't! Good enough for Dwyer, and so on.*
Dwyer goes on to discuss the admittedly crazy talk that I mentioned before--in which Kahn (shockingly, for a GM) talked up his players. Kahn essentially called Darko Milicic a great European style assist man. Dwyer thinks that's hilarious: "I have to say, Chris [Webber] was quite professional in refusing to add, 'I've seen a big man pass like him -Chris Mihm."
Hilarious, but not accurate, at all. Darko averaged close to 2 assists per game while with the Wolves, and Mihm, for his career, averaged .5 assists. I'm all for digs, but let's get them right, OK? That just makes you sound, I don't know, stupid?
Even after trashing Darko, Dwyer can compliment him, if only to trash the draft picks of Kahn: "Listen, signing Darko Milicic isn't the end of the world. Given starters minutes last season, he managed just under 12 points, two blocks and eight rebounds. And for a salary that is less than the league's average, this isn't completely and utterly terrible. It's not as if he's the free-agent equivalent of spending three lottery picks on Jonny Flynn, an uninterested Ricky Rubio, and Wesley Johnson."
It should be noted that if you give Darko starter minutes, he also probably averages about 3 assists a game, too. But that would get in the way of the joke Dwyer made earlier about Darko not being a very good passer. And what on God's Green Earth is wrong with Flynn and Johnson? I watched Flynn--he's got some growing to do, but there's no doubt he's an NBA point guard. I don't know why Dwyer is already dismissing Wes Johnson, a player that some folks who know basketball are pegging as a potential Rookie of the Year. Rubio's disinterest has been blown WAY out of proportion; he'll either be a Timberwolf next year, or he'll fetch a beautiful price on the market. What will Rubio see in the Wolves, as he waits out the Collective Bargaining Agreement?
He'll see Milicic and Pekovic at Center, both under 26 years of age; he'll see Love and Beasley at Power/Small Forward, with Martell Webster and Wes Johnson at small forward; he'll see Wayne Ellington at shooting guard, and he'll have Jonny Flynn pushing him. And a team with a ton of money to swing a sign and trade, if that's what it takes. That's a team that improves on last year's 15 wins. Guaranteed.
*Oh, and you know, I won't say anything bad about Kelly Dwyer myself, but I think it says something about his reporting that one of my friends emailed me and said, and I have to edit this to make it friendly for the families that read this blog, "That guy is a huge douche-nozzle, and I bet he's the kind of guy who masturbates to himself in the mirror."
I didn't say that--my "friend" did, so you know it is true.