I like to think of myself as a typical Timberwolves Fan. And yes, I realize that by simply being a T-Wolves fan I am - by definition - atypical. But that's beside the point, seeing as how this is a Wolves Blog named TwolvesBlog.
Typical fans - especially the past few years - have basically dismissed non-lottery Wolves-related news after April, then caught up around August. Mostly because the news was never very interesting. And it's been very easy to do, with the NFL draft and NBA playoffs and Twins winning boatloads of games.
This season, however, we've had losing streaks of six and nine games out of the Twins, which has caused pre-apathy to set in and allowed minds to wander toward Minnesota basketball. Thankfully, David Kahn has provided some entertainment to sports apetites.
Kahn's motormouth has been documented dutifully and deftly by the other TWB contributors, so I won't rant about that stuff, but I will say I freaking love it. Not only are the Timberwolves "big news" because of their position in the draft, we're also news because of our ZAYYYY-NEEE general manager! He says what he thinks all of the time, which while refreshing and interesting, can make us look like idiots for ever hiring the guy. But what did we expect? Before Kahn's arrival:
The Wolves won 46 combined games from 07-08 to 08-09, and that was preceeded by back-to-back low-30-win seasons
Our lineup/bench was full of crap contracts and unmotivated players
Very little - outside Kevin Love - was done through the draft to infuse young talent into the roster
In summary, there was no hope for the immediate future, no money to sign free agents, and the franchise was unattractive to said free agents even if we DID have the money.
What the hell kind of person wants a job like that?
The crazy kind, that's who.
The kind of guy who's ambivalent-yet-motivated, aloof-but-diligent and eternally optimistic in spite of insurmountable odds.
The kind of guy who will craft a philosophy and stick to it, even when it looks like it's falling apart even as it is put in place.
So when he says things like "manna from heaven" or compares bit players to HOFers, it doesn't surprise me. It's part of the package.
And when fellow contributors say "he has to go", I kind of balk at it, because Kahn has never been anything but up front and honest with the media and fans. And he's never claimed to be a savior. He's simply put a plan in place to get the franchise in healthy position to compete for years into the future. And by my count, he's moved to the franchise toward that end with striking efficiency.
Plus, as Strib columnist Jim Souhan wrote last night:
"I'd much rather live in a world where Ozzie Guillen occasionally says something offensive while trying to be entertaining than a world in which someone like Kahn is afraid to speak publicly. Kahn's speeches are the only entertainment we get during basketball season."
Only, I believe the on-court entertainment will continue to improve to the point where our GM isn't the lead story.
David Kahn's joking comments regarding the NBA's "habit" of producing good storylines during the draft lottery was met with fairly harsh criticism across the board. As very eloquently detailed in the post below, the TWB crew (not fans of the front office by any stretch), are backing Kahn on this one as he was clearly joking. The real controversy here is not Kahn's joke, but how members of the media are so quick to take a quote out of context to create false drama.
Here's my quick take on Kahn...
- The guy has gotten a dealt a merciless hand by the media. Rubio/Flynn back-to-back wasn't ideal, but it was far from the biggest Wolves draft day debacle (see Foye for Roy, Marbury for Allen, Ndudi Ebi - all products of Kevin McHale). Everyone assumes that Rubio balked at coming to the Wolves because they drafted Flynn, but in reality, his shot at coming over right away due to his big buy-out were slim at best. If Ricky was that dead-set on coming to the NBA, he would have come regardless. Furthermore, if Johnny Flynn really was the thing that tilted the scales to send Ricky back to Spain, how was Kahn supposed to know that Rubio would be such a primadona and react that way? The way I see it, the Kahn Man gets next to zero credit for actually swinging the deal that allowed the Wolves to pick Ricky in the first place, and all anyone focuses on is how he "drove Rubio back to Spain".
Also, the Darko deal is ridiculously overblown. Even if it was a "bad" deal, there were so many more ridiculously bad contracts signed last summer that Darko's deal should be an afterthought. I'd much rather have Darko at $4M per year (pretty decent actually for a starting center) than Joe Johnson's insane contract.
Basically, no matter what Kahn does, it's always getting blown way out of proportion. The guy simply can't win in the eyes of the media.
- However, and this is a big HOWEVER, David Kahn has now been the Wolves' GM for two years and has to have realized that the media loves ripping him to shreds. Yet somehow, he keeps giving them more and more ammunition. If I knew that the press was going to pounce on every little thing I said, I'd probably refrain from hinting that the lottery might be rigged, that Michael Beasley smokes too much weed, that Darko Milicic was "manna from heaven", that Ricky Rubio was absolutely going to come over in two years when in all likelihood there would be a major lockout that co-incided with his opt-out period, that I was going to make all of these "huge" moves in the summer of 2010 when the list of free agents looking to take up residence in Minnesota was all but non-existent, that I was trading Al Jefferson for eight cents on the dollar to set my team up for a big deadline move that I knew my cheap owner would never let me make... And the list goes on and on...
- My final point is that David Kahn has got to go. He hasn't done a great job as the team's GM, but he hasn't submarined the ship either like McHale did on multiple occasions. However, his continued presence is just a PR nightmare. The T-Wolves are considered to be the joke of the entire league, in large part because of Kahn's buffoonery. Teams aren't going to want to make legit deals with us and players aren't going to want to come here as long as the Wolves are viewed as one step above the D-league. Multiple times this season, "Minnesota" has been used by somebody as a derisive term. LeBron James wants to contract our team. Mike D'Antonio said that Rondo wouldn't be a good player if he was a Timberwolf instead of a Celtic. There is a pervasive negative opinion about the Timberwolves' franchise, and it starts with the man who is the head decision-maker for this team.
The bottom line is that, justly or unjustly, people are never going to take David Kahn seriously. As long as he's the team's GM, the same can be said for the Timberwolves as well.
Quick note that I will be appearing on the Johnny Ballgame Show tonight at 6:45 Central Time until about 7:00 to talk the Wolves in the lottery, the Kahnspiracy, and other stuff. You can watch here if you'd like:
Maybe Adam Carolla had it right: In Fifty Years, We'll All be Chicks.
Last night when, to my delight, the Wolves ended up with the #2 overall pick, word quickly traveled of yet another soon-to-be-famous Kahn interview "blunder" that quickly spiraled out of control. Fueled by over-dramatic columnists continuously spearheading an ever-rising trend of melodramatic, emotionally-driven US Weekly-esque articles, several stories surfaced. Kahn was trending on Twitter by 11:00 PM CST. Nearly all reports I read contained the same general idea: Kahn thinks the lottery is rigged! Kahn is very unlikable and just made the biggest professional mistake of his life!! He is going to get fined $400,000,000! We are all going to die! Here is the quote as it was generally reported:
Timberwolves General Manager David Kahn said he knew Minnesota was “dead” when it got down to the final three of himself, Utah executive Kevin O’Connor and Nick Gilbert, the son of Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert who was born with neurofibromatosis. “This league has a habit, and I am just going to say habit, of producing some pretty incredible story lines,” Kahn said. “Last year it was Abe Pollin’s widow and this year it was a 14-year-old boy and the only thing we have in common is we have both been bar mitzvahed. We were done. I told Kevin: ‘We’re toast.’ This is not happening for us and I was right.”
Of course they throw in the nerve condition tag on the Gilbert kid, a point Kahn didn't even begin to mention, as if Kahn was scorning some child on his deathbed. Way to invoke public sympathy.
Now, and sorry to interrupt anyone's tampon run this will only take a minute, take a look at the actual footage of what happened. It is towards the end:
What on earth is the fuss? Pretend that isn't Kahn for a minute. Rationalize the situation and separate yourself from your favorite POBO. Looking at the video without bias, do you give it any form of second glance or begin to speculate he is even slightly serious? He even threw in a Jewish joke about himself (uh, oh! I used the word 'Jewish' in an article...better lobby for this site to be shut down and deemed some form of anti-semetism cell).
Get a life.
And the best part? Even if Kahn were remotely serious, he is stating something thousands have thought before and continue to whine about to this day: there is an outside hand influencing the draft lottery results. Are you telling me that Adrian Wojnorowski (who tweeted last night that Kahn was an "arrogant former D-League GM"...a Tweet which has since been deleted) or Chad Ford, two of Kahn's harshest critics, have never once thought there was an invisible hand guiding the ping pong balls? Have they? Oh, ok, they should be fired, thrown into a Turkish prison and fined 20% of their annual salary. Good riddance.
Whether you truly believe the lottery is rigged or not, Kahn hardly did anything wrong. Personally, I think there are some outside influences (why make it so secretive?), but the "rigging" is also blown out of proportion and exaggerated in kahnconvenient kahncontext, without looking at the big picture. Regardless of which team would have won the #1 pick, every Wolves fan would come up with some reason to cry "rigged." Any team. Last year it was Washington. Huh? What would provoke Stern to gift the Wizards John Wall over the Nets? To, and this is my favorite theorist response to this question, "not be suspicious?" This year it was "making up for The Decision" and awarding the 29th largest market 2 top 4 draft picks. That might make sense if the NBA were the Susan G. Komen foundation.
Before continuing, I can totally see it. It is very difficult to argue against a Cleveland-based rigging situation on surface level. Part of me thinks it absolutely was planned ahead. But, if the lottery is rigged, Stern sure is choosing silly teams to win. Why help the Cleveland brass when they mismanaged the LeBron situation and didn't surround him with anyone but Larry Hughes and Zydrunas Illgauskas? Why give them BOTH #1 and #4 when you could sneak in their own pick at #1 and "help out" another franchise too (Toronto - enormous market, would rank amongst the top 5 or 6 in the US.... or even Sacramento desperately needing a new stadium and having a fantastic, loyal fan base?), while leaving the LAC pick at #8? Look, there are obviously some fishy things going on as it pertains to the lottery, but Stern doesn't help franchises correct obvious mismanagement. He isn't going to bail out Utah for their staff making the conscious decision to trade away Deron Williams. And these same theorists are clamoring that the league "heavily favors the big market teams" (as stated when the Clippers won the Griffin lottery and, of course, forgetting that Oklahoma City is in the Western Finals, or that LeBron even ended up in Cleveland in the first place). Well, which is it? You can't have it both ways. Is Stern putting forth a good faith gesture to Cleveland here? For what reason? Charity? Are conspiracy theorists really leading everyone to believe that the league, all the while losing hundreds of millions of dollars and doing its best to lower salaries by nearly one billion dollars within three years, is going to inject a tiny market team just to be nice? Backwards thinking. No incentive for the league to do that. Story or not. Do I still think it's fishy? Absolutely. But after some thought, giving Cleveland two top 4 picks doesn't make a whole lot of sense at all.
Enough rambling. Back to Kahn:
After a quick glance around a few T-Wolves sites, opinion was surprisingly split on the comments, with a series of fans claiming "Kahn went too far this time!" Or even "this was a fireable offense!" Really? Goodness, who cares? This is sports, not adjusting your Roth elections. Why must these things be taken more seriously than the State of the Union address? Shouldn't he have been fired already? If anything, it was a humorous quip, and also the same thing so many people speculate about constantly year after year, including half of the people whining about this and acting as if Kahn just traded Kevin Love and the #2 pick for Hasheem Thabeet (a trade fellow respected columnist College Wolf would probably endorse). The only thing Kahn was saying, in an obviously joking, lighthearted manner, is what NBA fandom has been speculating ever since the Ewing incident: the draft lottery isn't entirely legit. And while that may be true, despite the fact that the NBA has absolutely no incentive nor financial obligation to award Cleveland, Kahn adds to his pile of questionable, if not hyperbolic, PR situations yet again.
With that said, in a non-traditional closing, he needs to go as soon as possible. The thought of him running this draft and taking Biyombo 2nd overall is more horrifying than watching Ernest films on repeat for all of eternity.
UPDATE: Kahn defends his Kahmments here, in a report from apparent Kardashian sister Ken Berger, who also takes far too many dramatic jabs below the belt. The context in which the question came is what makes this whole thing even more baffling:
“The first questions I was asked last night by the reporters were, did I feel that the Timberwolves were jinxed,” Kahn said. “You know, we have a poor lottery record. And I want to say for the record, I don’t believe in jinxes, curses, hocus pocus, and I don’t believe we’ve been harmed in any way. What I said last night, I do believe in the power of story. And I just felt it was a heck of a lot better story for a 14-year-old to beat out two middle-aged executives standing together on a stage on national TV, and that our league has had its own share of luck in being a part of those stories. That’s it. Anybody ascribing anything else to it is completely doing their own thing.”
Kahn pointed out that his comment Tuesday night “elicited laughter,” and said, “There was no follow-up question. Nobody said, ‘Do you understand what you just said?’ No, because everybody knew context. But I do understand, to your point, just reading it dry, that somebody could infer that. So lesson learned.”
Asked again Wednesday if he was simply reiterating his assertion that the lottery results were rigged to produce a better story, Kahn said, “Absolutely not. I’m just saying that, if you look at sports in general, typically fairy tale stories, Cinderella stories, whatever you want to say, those tend to dominate sports. I just knew when you’re standing there with a 14-year-old kid, logically the 14-year-old kid … it had nothing to do with being nefarious.”
Surprise, surprise, the Timberwolves did not get the #1 pick in the draft! Shocking, I know. If there's one thing to take solace in about the Clips owning our pick in 2012, it's that we won't have to endure this annual debacle next year. There will be no getting our hopes up just to have them dashed. Instead, we can rest comfortably knowing that, as usual, our team is screwed from the get-go.
Some quick points...
1. I know the Cavs just endured one of the biggest back-stabs in the history of pro sports and deserve something "good" to happen to them, but they go so stink'n lucky. Not only did they get the #1 pick but they got it with the worser of their two picks, which means they will be selecting #1 and #4. Granted, they'll be drafting some one of the caliber of Anus Kanter (if Kahn doesn't get to him first) with that #4 pick in this weak draft, but it's better than #1 and #9.
2. So last year, Abe Polin's widow got the #1 pick, and this year Dan Gilbert's chronically ill child pulled it off for the Cavs. Sensing a trend here? Can we start making plans to send CW Jr. and DeROK Jr. to the lottery in 2013? Their hardship, you ask? Being raised as Wolves fans.
3. The Clippers must be ticked that they traded away the #1 pick in the draft just to jettison Baron Davis. Well, until they look ahead and realzie that they're getting the #1 pick in a much better draft next year from us.
4. Cleveland's Clippers pick was already in the Top 3. How certain were you that the Wolves logo was on that #4 card? I would have bet the house on it. Maybe ABABU helped us out after all.
5. How great was the look on David Kahn's face when the Wolves card was pulled for the #2 pick? He clearly wanted to be the "hero" that brought back the #1 selection soooooooooo badly.
6. Honestly, getting the #2 selection isn't the worst thing in the world. I'm not totally sold on Kyrie Irving and having him and Rubio could have gotten a little awkward. Let's hope that Kahn plays it smart and goes with Derrick Williams. (He has a nice smile, right?)
7. At least we have something else to complain about now. That's about all we have to hang onto here at this point.
The Wolves have earned the #2 pick in the draft! I will take it! We now get a shot at Derrick Williams if we'd like which is NOT a bad thing. It is tough to miss out on Kyrie Irving, but this is still great overall. We defied the odds and now have the highest draft pick in franchise history.
How on earth must Clipper fans feel right now? They traded the FIRST OVERALL PICK AND Baron Davis for Mo Williams. Now that. is. brutal. We may feel that way next year, but another topic for another day. I am just glad we didn't get screwed too much.
For nearly a year, TWB readers have been intermittently teased with a silouette of a mystery man. In a few moments, the face of that man will be revealed.
Why today? Why now?
The answer is simple.
Today is the day that the Minnesota Timberwolves either turn towards the light, or descend into a year of unimaginable darkness. If there was ever a day that we needed this man, it is now.
Tonight, the Minnesota Timberwolves will enter the NBA draft lottery for the 14th time in their history. As we have well-documented on this site, in their previous fittingly "unlucky thirteen" trips, the Timberwolves have NEVER improved their positioning and often find themselves pushed back. It has been an annual punch to the collective gut of the T-Wolves Nation as we've watched again and again as unjust scenarios unfolded, such as Derrick Rose landing with the Bulls, while the Wolves were continually left out in the cold. Each time, we've taken our lumps and licked our wounds, only to have hope swell the next year that this is finally "our time".
It never is.
I've personally tried every superstition short of swallowing snake venom and lighting my eyebrows on fire in the hopes of breaking the Timberwolves lottery curse. Last year, the TWB staff even went so far as to arrange a 64-seed "mascot challenge" tournament, then faxed a photo of the winner, MacGyver, into NBA Headquarters in Secaucus, NJ so that our mascot would be "in the building" to help end the Wolves unlucky streak. The result? The second-to-last place Wolves, got bumped back two spots to the #4, while the Wizards, who had 73% more wins than Minnesota, were awarded the 1st overall pick and the rights to John Wall.
This year, I am not trying to "reverse the curse" and alter the Wolves' destiny. I'm not asking for some magical twist of fate to right all of this team's wrongs and send the Wolves to the promised land. All I want is one thing.
The Wolves won 17 games this season and finished dead last. They deserve the #1 pick in the draft. In the NFL, they would be picking first. Same goes for the MLB. In the NHL, there is a lottery, but no team can jump up further than four spots, so using that scenario it would take a near-miracle for Minnesota to fall all the way to #4, which is the exact spot they are most likely to end up in tonight. Only the NBA has this ridiculous system and it's exactly why the Chicago Bulls are playing in the Conference Finals tonight, and the Wolves are making their seventh straight trip to the lottery.
I don't care what anyone else says, the Wolves deserve the #1 pick tonight. Anything less is a complete sham, and the fact that there is a 75% that the Wolves will get pushed back tonight is an atrocity. With the remaining 25% chance, there is nothing to be won, only their own ground to be held. Tonight isn't about winning. It isn't about the player we'd pick #1 either, as I'm not really sure how drastically Kyrie Irving will change the Wolves' lot in life going forward. Tonight is simply about finally not getting screwed. It's about finally being able to raise our chin with an ounce of dignity knowing that something went right for this franchise instead of more bad luck and disappointment. It's about having a glimmer of hope that the Wolves can mount a semi-respectable 2012 campaign and have the Clippers pick 6th our 7th with our 1st rounder instead of 1st overall.
I'm seriously spent with this team. After enduring the past seven years, I just can't fathom what it will be like next season to be pickless without a light at the end of the tunnel. Things have never been more desperate for this franchise and even MacGyver with all the duct tape and rubber bands in the world couldn't right this ship. So in one last-ditch gasp of hope, we're unleashing the final good luck charm in our arsenal...
Each and every May, well after the Wolves' first month of summer break is complete, buzz about the annual NBA draft lottery begins. It is a day to celebrate ineptitude, poor performance, and general lack of accountability. It is a day mired in disappointment, but filled with (ALWAYS for naught) hope. And every single year the Wolves come up short. In fact, in all of the Wolves' years in the lottery, the team has not moved up a single time. Not once. Year after year, we either stand pat in our position, or get pushed back by whichever team owner's daughter developed a mid-Spring fellatiatic relationship with Commissioner Stern.
While we have stood pat numerous times, the weeks surrounding the lotto are often a days filled with frustration, ridiculous trade scenarios only rivaling Knick/Raptor-fan level of insanity, and 12 months of frustrations all boiled down to a single big bang event resulting in the lids being blown off of the fifteen remaining (up 7 versus a year ago!) Target Center faithful. The lottery is not a good day. And no matter how many times one tries to convince themselves otherwise, it is an isolated statistical event every year. It is not predicated on last year's lottery."We must win this year!! It's our turn!!" need not apply. The only certainly in the lottery from team-Wolf is death and any form of luck flushing into the Minneapolis water system with the rest of the Spring runoff that makes water taste like dead fish. And while each lottery is a separate statistical event, let it be known that only a single time in the last 20 years (Orlando - Dwight Howard...and Cleveland for LeBron but they were tied) has the last place team won the lottery. Speaking of which, let's cut the team-loathing metaphors and talk about the damn thing.
Before we begin, let's briefly go ahead and discuss the draft lottery for those who, heaven forbid, do not understand how it works and perhaps have hobbies.To put it plainly, it is very similar to the Powerball. Each team is sorted by level of retardation from worst (the Wolves) to least worst of the non-playoff teams. Based on record, the team with the worst regular-season record has the best chance to 'win' the lottery based on the outcome of the Powerball-like lottery. The Wolves have a 25% chance to win, while all other teams have a smaller chance. The picks are drawn based on a number combination, and the team with the highest % to win (again - the Wolves) has the highest # of winning combinations.
Here are how the % odds work out for the Wolves:
1st - 25%
2nd - 21.5%
3rd - 17.8%
4th/Hiroshima come late - 35.7%
Statistics can be a funny thing (if you are, indeed, amused by statistics). Our odds, from a single pick standpoint, are most skewed towards 4th overall (absolutely bound to happen, sorry). However, our odds of getting 1-3 are 64.3%. More basic addition fun yields these percentage breakdowns: Odds of the Wolves picking in the top 2 = 46.5%. Odds of picking 2-4 = 75%. 3-4 = 53.5%. And most shockingly, the odds of picking 1-4= 100% (to the nitpicking-reader-type who just sprouted a mild erection at the opportunity to call me out here: I obviously know the Wolves can't pick any worse than 4. It was an attempt at cynical, sarcastic humor. Thank you, now go away).
You see, the lottery is only for the top three picks overall. The rest are simply settled by reverse record. This is what makes watching the lottery coverage perhaps a more dramatic television experience than MacGyver and the Lost Treasure of Atlantis. For when the picks are revealed, it is done so in reverse order, meaning you know immediately whether a team has moved into the top 3 and appropriately completed its annual tradition of shoving a baseball bat deep into the back-end of the Wolves braintrust. You will actually see the life drain out of Kahn's face in real time. Tomorrow.
Speaking of Kahn, in a move to further our luck, the Wolves have decided to send him as our representative. I can't decide whether I want the Wolves to win the #1 pick for a chance at Kyrie Irving, or to hear how Kahn handles the Rubio questions if we were to win. Either way, is there a way this situation will end in anything but disappointment? I hate to keep being Negative Nancy, but if the Wolves win we have to decide between Irving/Rubio and potentially trade the 1st pick overall. Or does Kahn do the inexplicable and pass on Irving (bad feeling here)? If we get 2nd, Derrick Williams is a bad fit. If we get 3rd or 4th, if you believe Kahnzone are taking anything other than Kanter or Vesely you are kidding yourself. Trade out you say? What will teams give up with CBA uncertainly and the weakest draft in ten years? Not to mention this is our last opportunity to upgrade through the draft, as the Clippers will have our top selection next season.
As I have said before this is either going to be a very good, or very bad month for the Wolves.
Rather than hashing out any more conditional hypoethicals (what if the Wolves get 1 or 2? What if we get 4? Would we do this trade or sign this guy? What sort of false hope can we generate that Glen will spend any money to bring anyone here? Blah blah blah my head hurts)...I'm going to wait until tomorrow night to make any form of what-if lotto comment. For now it's about sitting and crossing the fingers and hoping we can get lucky.
In the meantime, I'll have a mushroom cloud photo queued up to hit this page at about 7:45pm tomorrow.
Be sure to check back later this week when the TWB staff breaks down their top 10 and discusses the lotto results.