Notes from a breakfast with Wolves boss David Kahn

Posted on June 15th, 2009 – 12:51 PM
By Michael Rand

kahn3.JPGThis morning, we had a chance to sit down with David Kahn in an informal breakfast featuring several other members of the Twin Cities sports media. He met with the team’s beat writers Friday, so some of the information here is a rehash of what he told them. We combed through Jerry Zgoda’s excellent Saturday piece based off that meeting and tried to include things below that either advance what he said or touched on other areas not covered. Kahn basically answered questions for about an hour, and in the interest of full disclosure — since we were driving, to an extent, the Bill Simmons for GM madness — we have to say we came away impressed by the man. He has a clear vision. He speaks with both depth and common sense. Of course, as he also knows, he will not be judged by his likability or even his plan, but his ability to make the right moves — particularly during what he acknowledges are a very important next 16 months. We’ll likely write a little more about this breakfast for Page 2 tomorrow, but here are some nuggets that may or may not make the final cut into print:

*In discussing the current roster, Kahn said, “On a championship-contending team, Al (Jefferson) might be the second-best player. … Kevin (Love) might be the fourth-best player.” We wouldn’t disagree, though we were perhaps surprised at the candor. “We’re setting our sights, appropriately, pretty high,” he added. Jefferson, he added later, is ahead of schedule in rehabbing his ACL, is expected to be ready to go at the start of training camp and has lost weight — a good thing. Kahn jokingly (we think) said he has Jefferson lift up his shirt every time he sees him.

When asked if his assessment of the current talent on hand differs from that of the holdovers/previous regime, Kahn said some in the organization thought the Wolves were a .500-caliber team before Jefferson tore his ACL last year. “I don’t subscribe to that theory,” Kahn said. Some of that assessment likely came after an 8-hour meeting he had Sunday with the entire basketball staff (minus Kevin McHale) — the first time, Kahn said, he has met with the whole group since taking over.

*Kahn remains elusive about whether McHale will remain the team’s coach. He said he will meet with the fired front office man turned midseason coach sometime again this week, but that it’s another meeting that’s “part of the process.” He again used the word “awkward” to describe why McHale was not at the Sunday meeting. We have a hard time reading which way he’s leaning, but there are a lot of factors in play. We’ll hopefully try to tackle some of them in print after we’ve had more time to process them.

*Kahn specifically mentioned Randy Foye and Mike Miller being in the last year of their contracts. He seems to place quite a bit of stock in that as a positive bargaining chip in trade possibilities.

*He wants to maintain “flexibility and leverage” through the summer of 2010. He recognizes the position the organization is in to remake its roster with a barrage of draft picks and cap space this summer and next summer. It sounds as though he will be very calculating in terms of putting those pieces to use and won’t rush into dealing or signing players for the sake of just making moves. “I would hate to add a bunch of 30-year-olds to be the 8th seed and be right back where we are three years from now,” Kahn said.

*Kahn didn’t want to tip his hand on the draft or possible moves, thinking for several seconds before declining to answer a question about the team’s single largest position of need. It wouldn’t be a stretch, though, to guess that the two biggest are a legitimate center who can protect the rim and a starting-caliber point guard (or combo guard who fits in with Foye, should the team continue to build with him). In regards to a report from David Aldridge that the Wolves are actively looking to move up to No. 2 (where Memphis is slotted), Kahn said, “I haven’t spoke to Memphis. … And I haven’t spoken to David Aldridge.”

He said the consensus in the organization is that there are seven players the Wolves would be happy to end up with at No. 6, but he did say exploring the chances of moving up is one of several options out there. When asked if he sees Stephen Curry (who as of now is not working out at Target Center this week) as a point guard, Kahn said yes. Tyreke Evans? Not sure. He said he could envision the Wolves using all three of their first round picks if some were more seasoned college players. Will they play right away? “We’re going to have to let these kids play.”

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