The David Kahn era, while it was somewhat short lived, is over in Minnesota. The news finally came to fruition Friday afternoon after NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner had reported April 26th that Kahn’s contract would not be renewed by the Wolves and former Wolves coach and, at the time, ESPN NBA Analyst Flip Saunders would be the new president of basketball operations. Which to most people seems like a great hire for the Wolves.
During his tenure, Kahn seemed to mismanage a few things with the team and organization, most notably Kevin Love over the last few season and of course the NBA Draft. With the hiring of Flip there are no guarantees that some of these areas of concern around the team will get any better, but there is a sense of hope that bringing a guy into the front office with a high basketball IQ will be able to turn things around.
To me, there’s three areas that Saunders will need to manage better than Kahn in order to get this team trending in the right direction again.
It’s safe to say David Kahn and Kevin Love didn’t see eye-to-eye when it came to the team and the way Kahn handled Love’s contract negotiations. It’s my thought that towards the end of Kahn’s tenure with the Wolves, Love was unhappy in Minnesota and there was a possibility of Love requesting to be traded in the future. Saunders first goal as president of basketball operations should be the establish trust and rebuild the bridge Kahn and the front office burned down with Love. Per Jerry Zgoda, it appears as though Flip has reached out to Love already.
Flip’s understanding of what it takes to compete in the NBA on a given night and what it takes to make a run into the playoffs will help keep Love here in Minnesota. Showing his all-star power forward some love, no pun intended, might help too, but ultimately it will come down to wins and losses to keep the former UCLA power forward in a Wolves uniform.
Rick Adelman and David Kahn’s relationship was interesting to say the least. Through the media they both said they both maintained they had a good working relationship with one another, but you still got the sense that Adelman thought Kahn was a moron for a lack of a better term. At this point it’s unknown if Adelman will be back to coach the Wolves next season after he missed a chunk of the season due to his wife’s health. However, there are early indications that Adelman will be back for his third season following this shot he took at Kahn, via Jon Krawczynski.
I think that quote pretty much sums up what Adelman thought of Kahn and what he thinks of Saunders.
However, the real question here is, can Flip and Rick coexist? That remains to be seen, but Saunders knows he is dealing with a future hall of fame coach in Adelman and mentioned in press conference Friday afternoon that Adelman will still have a big say in roster management.
It’s also worth noting that during Flip’s presser he was asked if he had any intentions to coach the team at some point in the future, he didn’t give a definitive answer, which is interesting.
Historically, the draft hasn’t been very forgiving to the Wolves. They’ve never won lottery and they’ve consistently missed on players. That trend continued once Kahn was hired prior to the 2009 draft. Here’s a list of player the Wolves opted to take in the first round of the draft under Kahn.
2009: Ricky Rubio, Jonny Flynn, and Wayne Ellington
2010: Wes Johnson and Lazar Heyward
2011: Derrick Williams
2012: Traded pick for Chase Budinger
If the NBA Draft was based around best smile, the Wolves nailed there picks in 2010 and 2011 by taking Jonny Flynn and Wes Johnson. However, since the premiss of the draft is taking players based on their skills of basketball, Kahn managed to miss all but one of their six picks over that four year span which was Rubio. The most glaring miss out of that bunch is Flynn who the Wolves decided to take over now Golden State Warrior Stephen Curry. Flynn was eventually traded out of Minnesota and is now out of the NBA and playing in Australia.
Now, it’s unknown if Saunders will be any better at evaluating players coming out of college than Kahn, but when you consider the way the Wolves drafted over the course of the last four years, it’s hard to argue that Flip could do any worse.
In my opinion, I would have given Kahn a grade of C as the Wolves president of basketball operations. While Kahn is easy to rip due to how he handled things with Love, his selections in the draft, or his seemingly awkward personality, he managed to put the Wolves in a position to be once again at least competitive. If not for a season that was snake bit due to injuries, the Wolves could very well have been playing in the postseason this year and Kahn more than likely would’ve received a new contract.
Now by no means am I saying that Flip Saunders is the front office savior this franchise has been looking for over it’s 23 years of existence, but what Flip brings to the table is the belief that a man who has been around the game for so many years, as a coach and as a player, will be able to build a relevant and competitive team for years to come. Something a former sports journalist, Kahn, wasn’t able to do.