We've got a special update today all about my new crush, Senior Rubio. First off, Ricky's introductory press conference was at Target Center this morning. I attended it, which was pretty fanastic and awe-inducing (he looks even sexier in real life than he does in photos.) He was so funny, charming, and just darn likeable. Plus how can you not love the accent and broken English? Sorry, but I was eating it up. Ricky is already turning me into a 14 year old girl. ZOMG I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE HIM PLAY FOR US NEXT SEASON!!!!!!!1
I had even done real journalistic stuff, like take notes and crap like that, but then I found the entire Rubio press conference on Youtube. So I'll just post that below the fold, rather than attempt to decipher what I passed off as notes. I will say, pay attention to the questions from Senile Sid Hartman. My goodness, someone just needs to put him out of his misery. First, Sid asked why his stats were so bad last season in Europe, and with that in mind, what makes Ricky any good? Fail. Ricky's response to that is just classic.
Sid followed it up later with this gem: "The hot rumor is you're gonna trade this guy and the #2 overall draft pick for 'Gah-sole' from LA?" My goodness Sid, really? The Kahnman then adamently denies any possible Rubio trade EVER (obviously not, after waiting this long... and DURING Ricky's press conference), at which point Ricky chimes in with a quiet "Thanks." That cracked everyone up. Myself included.
While introducing his family: "And my pretty sister... she doesn't have a boyfriend." More laughs all-around. What a swell guy. SO WITTY.
So like I said, below the fold we've got all the videos for his press conference, some pictures of Ricky in a TWolves uniform for the first time, and a special guest article titled "Rubio Brings Strength to a Dysfuncational Family" from valued TWolves Blog Forum Member "YWG"; also known as Matt Dahlseid from 'Sota Sports.
Please click "Read More" for all the Ricky Rubio mania that you can handle...
There were three big steps Minnesota needed to make to start heading out of obscuritytown this offseason…
1. Sign Rubio. Complete!
2. Draft Derrick Williams. Pending.
3. Deal Beasley and get a real center OR an upgrade at shooting guard. Long way off…
I think the team is still pretty in love with Wes Johnson's potential, and adding Derrick Williams necessitates sending Beasley away. Darko proved he's a capable backup, but pretty awful as a starter, so common sense tells me that's our next move. Either sign a center, or trade for one. If we sign one, the obvious move is to pair Beas with something to get Demar DeRozan.
Of the potential Center options, these seemed like the best to me:
Samuel Dalembert - The main problem with trying to acquire Dalembert is that the Wolves probably don't have the cap room to get it done. Looks like Minnesota will have around $50 million in salary when it's all said and done (draft + Rubio), and it's possible Sammy D could get more elsewhere. The Salary Cap is supposed to be around $58 million, but it could all change when the new CBA is in place. I've always been a fan of his rebounding/shot-blocking, and it would fit in nicely here. He's just better at it than Darko. Plus, ATHLETICISM!
Rumors about Iguodala and Granger seem to suggest that Kahn is approaching negotiations with at least a couple of teams. Assuming we aren't totally going to liquidate Kevin Love, we have some known assets, some of which we will need to build around and some of which we will need to move to get the more experienced players that we need to add in order to help us win.
Let's assume we are actually actively pursuing trades with our assets including our #2 pick. Let's try to crawl into the head of Kahn- scary, I know.
As counterintuitive as this may sound, I happen to agree with Kahn that we don't need to blow up our current roster to build a good team. It's like we're building a house, however, and we have 7 different types of flooring we've purchased but we don't know what we are doing for the roof. We may not have even completed the design yet. In this case the excess flooring selections are young Power Forwards and the roof is a Point Guard. However, let's take things as they are and not as they should be, and see if we can develop a sensible plan for moving forward. You know, one that we will never implement because it will "cost too much." Even though the team's value would increase disproportionately vs. the investments made in forming a good team if we actually won games. But no one cares about that. Moving on...
Our major positions of need are perimeter shot creation, perimeter defense, point guard play (i.e. ball handling/decision making), and center play (i.e. interior defense/post play).
Here are the assets we own (in order of descending value, my best estimate of value to other teams):
Kevin Love - 6'10" - PF - 22 years old - $3.64 million/yr, 1 yrs remaining
Ricky Rubio (contract rights) - 6'3" - PG - 20 years old - unsigned (under contract in Europe)
Micheal Beasley - 6'10" - SF/PF - 22 years old - $4.96 million/yr, 1 yrs remaining
We were "lucky" enough to land the second overall pick this year, as most of you already know. There was a 25% chance that we would get our rightful draft position of #1 overall, because $tern is a joke and the lottery sucks. In this weak draft (understatement), our best (only?) hope is Kyrie Irving. And that just got a lot more bleak. I guess there's a chance that Cleveland passes on Irving with their top pick, but let's just move on for now.
Last year, TWolves Blog Staff didn't do too bad with our draft Big Board. You can see it HERE. Debate it all you want, but you can clearly see that we would have drafted DeMarcus Cousins with our #4 overall pick. Maybe Wesley Johnson makes us forget Cousins before his career is over, maybe not. Maybe Cousins' immaturity makes us forget Cousins before his career is over. Who knows. Ok, so we had Hassan UPside at #6 overall, but a lot of people liked him. And it's not like we would have drafted him, as we had Cousins and Wesley Johnson ranked higher. So don't overreact on that. The rest looks reasonably solid, considering we went 30 players deep and all. Check out the entire Big Board from last year if you have any interest.
The NBA Draft is a Thursday, June 23rd. As of right now, the T-Wolves have two first round picks (#2 overall, and Memphis' pick at #20.) No one has any idea what's going to happen, or whom the Wolves will pick. (Does Kahn??? I doubt it.) Who do you readers want us to draft? ; Should we trade either (or both) of the picks? Is it Irving or bust? A BIG wildcard here is what happens with Rubio. There are some rumors that Rubio is already essentially signed, sealed, and delivered for next season. That would be fantastic, but I'm still overly cautious as of right now. ; If he comes over this season, we don't necessarily need Irving or Knight. But it sure would be nice to have two competent/very good PG's for the first time in... forever.
Derrick Williams is widely regarded as the consensus #2 pick. But he's a terrible fit for our team, as we've already got Love, Beasley, Randolph, Tolliver, and Pekovc (among others.) Let's just pray that Cleveland doesn't take Irving #1, which in turn "forces" Kahn to take Bismack Biyombo #2... since no other teams will trade with our lunatic GM. That would be disaster of epic proportions.
The draft looks like one of the worst overall drafts of the past 10-15 years, if not even longer. There's just no great talents. ; Too bad the 2012 draft is absolutely LOADED, and we don't have a pick; but alas, that's another story for another day. There are probably some nice players in this draft that can contribute to NBA squads, but if I had to pick a surefire All-Star, I'm not sure I could do so at this point in time. So besides Irving, the #2 pick may as well be the same as the #10-15 pick(s). Maybe it's not that drastic, but there's a large group of players that could all be pretty good, or bench players. No one knows yet. And therin lies the problem with this draft, because the TWolves really need to hit a homerun at #2 overall.
Instead, perhaps we should trade the pick? There is a TON of TWolves and draft chatter going on right now in the TWolves Blog Forums. Check it out with us:
The official group Minnesota workout is next Monday and Tuesday
Day 1 Keith Benson, F-C, Oakland Marshon Brooks, G-F, Providence Tyler Honeycutt, F, UCLA Reggie Jackson, G, Boston College Cory Joseph, G, Texas Malcolm Lee, G, UCLA John Leuer, F, Wisconsin Shelvin Mack, G, Butler ETwaun Moore, G, Purdue Jereme Richmond, F, Illinois Nikola Vucevic, F, USC Jordan Williams, F, Maryland
Day 2 Mike Dunigan, C, Oregon Ben Hansbrough, G, Notre Dame Justin Holiday, F, Washington JaJuan Johnson, F-C, Purdue Travis Leslie, G, Georgia Kalin Lucas, G, Michigan St. Darius Morris, G, Michigan Markieff Morris, F, Kansas Chandler Parsons, F, Florida Josh Selby, G, Kansas Jamie Skeen source
This bunch will all be in play for the Wolves #20 pick. If you believe Rubio is all but in the bag the number one sucking hole, pussy wound gap in the Wolves depth chart is Shooting Guard. The name on the tip of everyone's tongue right now is MarshonBrooks. He's done nothing but move up up up in the last few days. At 6'4'' with 7'1'' reach he's the prototypical SG. If you are interested in the rest of the combine measurements take a gander this way.
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.