One thing is certain about the David Kahn hire as President of Basketball Operations of the Timberwolves: he will not be given a fair shake by the majority of fans. In the minds of many of the faithful, he’s already blown four or five drafts, traded away a couple of stars in the making and signed Ryan Gomes to an under-the-table max contract.
The outpouring of negativity over this hire on various internet, radio and television outlets has been astounding. I understand feeling underwhelmed and even disappointed. Those things are valid. I understand not trusting the hire because of Glen Taylor’s recent pattern of ineptitude. Also valid. But to rip Kahn so thoroughly, as though we just lured Isaiah Thomas away from Florida International is a complete overreaction and frankly, beyond the bounds of fandom.
What we do know about Kahn…
- Despite what Taylor says, he was the third choice for this job
- He hasn’t been in the NBA since 2004. Before that he spent nine years with the Indiana Pacers under Donnie Walsh. Four of those years were as GM.
- In recent years he led an effort to secure an MLB franchise in Portland and served simultaneously in an executive role for four NBDL franchises.
- He is credited as leading the effort to have Conseco Fieldhouse built.
- He is good friends with David Stern.
- He is a lawyer.
- He is considered a financial specialist or “capologist”.
That’s it. That’s all we know. We know his Pacer teams were competitive and had a lot of talent pass through the organization during his tenure but we still don’t know how much of that can be attributed to him. By his own admission, Kahn has typically worked in “under the radar” positions but people within NBA circles vouch strongly for his talent (ie. Walsh, Stern, Larry Bird). He’s no Jerry West. And he’s no Kevin McHale. Not yet, anyways.
I’ll be the first to admit, he’s not an exciting choice or even one to warrant as many words as I am typing (Yet I continue to type. Why?). Since I’m essentially imploring fans to give the guy a chance, I will start by admitting that he was fairly impressive in his introductory press conference this Friday. He came off infinitely more basketball savy than Glen Taylor. He also outlined a philosophy for success that gave me more insight into the future plans of this team than Taylor/McHale has done in five seasons. He seems intelligent. He seems committed to aggressively pursuing winning talent. He seems a little cocky. He seems a lot better than I thought he would.
What he can do to quickly endear himself to fans and in the process, sell a lot of tickets…
- Fire Kevin McHale. Cut the cord. Throw the blankie away. Say goodbye already.
- Fire Jim Stack and Rob Babcock. Suits.
- Keep Fred Hoiberg and promote him to GM. Fans will appreciate the gesture of good will. The title promotion will be only that, a new title.
- Draft intelligently this year and at some point trade up, if only a few picks, to land a particular player. It will show that he is more interested in securing talent than increasing profits. The fans need evidence that this organization cares more about winning than it does money.
- Put together some kind of trade and acquire a legitimate and established talent. This will be the most difficult of all the above to accomplish and maybe take a while, but if he can bring in another young cog with star potential, however improbable, he will instantly become a genius and a savior and an immeasurable upgrade over McHale in the eyes of Wolves fans everywhere.
Good luck, pal.