When Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor named David Kahn the president of basketball operations, he expected to have a playoff-contending team by now. Instead, in his four years on the job he has made more trades than times Dwight Howard has changed his mind about being traded, drafted more point guards than an apartment complex could support, and traded away more draft picks than Jarrod Saltalamacchia has letters in his last name. And now, the T’wolves are in another transition of which I am about to get to.
Have you ever seen the movie White Men Can’t Jump? Ironic, because a year or so ago Kahn said he desired to have athletic wing players who can get up-and-down the floor in transition. He drafted Wesley Johnson, signed Martell Webster, and traded for Anthony Randolph and Michael Beasley. How ironic is it that none of those players are on the team anymore. The roster Minnesota now has is a cross between The United Nations and Band of Brothers. I am not kidding though. The roster has cults inside of cults. For example: Kevin Love and Malcolm Lee (UCLA); Chase Budinger and Derrick Williams (Arizona); Brandon Roy (Washington) and Luke Ridnour (Oregon) and all played in the PAC-10/PAC-12. Having a little European and foreign flavor is nice; but having serious flavor and spice is another thing. If the Wolves end up signing Andrei Kirilenko, it would give the Wolves a total of five foreign players (Kirilenko, Alexey Shved, Nikola Pekovic, Ricky Rubio, and J.J. Barea). Does that mean the Wolves need to sing every national anthem before the game? (Yes, I know that was a terrible joke)
Not that any of that is a big deal or anything because if you can play and want to play for my team, I will be more than happy to sign you to a contract no matter your ethnicity. But I am starting to question Kahn’s decision-making. And here’s why: there are 10 white players on this team (Greg Stiemsma, Robbie Hummel, Budinger, Ridnour, Barea, Love, Rubio, Pekovic, Shved, and Kirilenko) and only four black players (Dante Cunningham, Roy, Lee and Williams). Am I missing something here? What used to be Half-n-Half is now almost purely skim milk. I would like to know when the last time a team had 10 white players, with most being major contributors, on a championship team. The “white” player is supposed to be the minority in the NBA, but Kahn is “restoring” power, I guess? Is this Kahn’s plan because he drafted Jonny Flynn and [Wes] Johnson, both African-American, and both players turned out to be busts? I hardly think so, but what a coincidence. History has told us that white players are the “smarter”, less-glamorous but more-polished NBA players and African-American or other black players are more athletic, explosive, potential-oozing but less-polished players.
I hope I didn’t step on anybody’s toes with that comment but I think it holds true, for the most part. Of course, like everything, there are exceptions.
And it seems that every off-season, Kahn seems to over-haul the roster. He has transitioned and moved so many players during his four years that the NBA doesn’t bother with figuring out where Minnesota stands in terms of salary-cap space because it’s too difficult to keep up with their seemingly daily transactions.
People have grown tired of what Kahn has tried to do over and over, repeatedly failing and setting this franchise back further and further. Some wanted him gone two years ago. Some wanted him gone last year. And some want him gone after the acquisitions the franchise made this off-season.
If he had done better due diligence, the Wolves would have a starting lineup of Rubio, Stephen Curry, [Derrick] Williams, Love and DeMarcus Cousins. Instead, the Wolves opening-day starting lineup might look like Ridnour, Shved, Kirilenko, Love and Pekovic. I can’t be mad about not having Cousins because, unlike Cousins, Pekovic plays hard every night. On the other hand, it would be nice to have Cousins because then you could bring Pekovic off the bench. The Wolves have had a revolving door at shooting guard and small forward since Kevin Garnett was traded. Drafting Curry would have solved the shooting guard problem. But if Williams shows that he can play the small forward spot, then it will close that door for years to come (provided Kahn doesn’t trade him). For now, Wolves fans will have to suffice with Shved and Kirilenko.
I think the Wolves will be an improved team this year. I think they will be better defensively and sharper offensively, with a full off-season and training camp to work with. I think the bench is more solidified now, especially if Roy is able to play at 75% of what he used to be. Anything more than that, I think the Wolves are a playoff team. The scoring should be more balanced and consistent. They won’t have to rely on Love to score 30 points every night to keep them in games or Beasley’s erratic scoring-sprees.
This is Kahn’s last chance to prove he can turn the Timberwolves into a winner.
If he can’t, then he should be traded.