Posts Tagged ‘David Kahn’

How Not To Treat — Or Act Like — A Superstar, Northwoods Edition



Give Kevin Love credit for this much: he didn’t say that he didn’t say what he supposedly and, as it turns out, most definitely said.

Yeah, those comments offered up to Yahoo! Sports  were all his, the Minnesota All-Star power forward acknowledged to reporters after the team’s practice Wednesday. His critical, grumpy, even petulant-sounding remarks about the Timberwolves, his bosses and his less-than-desired contract experience were accurate. But he also said he did not like the tone of the story and that he talked about other, more upbeat topics about the Wolves that apparently got left on the cutting-room floor. Like his tendency to use perceived slights for motivation.

Here is some of the offending quotage as told to Yahoo! NBA guy Adrian Wojnarowski in a piece largely focused on the decision by Wolves management to offer and sign Love to an extension for four years rather than five:

“I don’t know who labels people stars, but even [T’wolves owner] Glen Taylor said: I don’t think Kevin Love is a star, because he hasn’t led us to the playoffs,” Love told Yahoo! Sports. “I mean, it’s not like I had much support out there.

“That’s a tough pill to swallow.”

No, Kevin Love isn’t over Taylor and GM David Kahn refusing him what he had earned. He isn’t over Kahn marching into the trainer’s room after a loss and thrusting a contract offer sheet into his hands. Where else does it work that way in the NBA? “I’m not the one to always follow professional protocol – but I do know what it is, even at 24 years old,” Love says.

Love also is quoted talking about the broken hand he suffered in training camp and speculation within the franchise that maybe he had hurt it in some way besides the “knuckle push-ups” he claimed. He questions Kahn’s performance and vision, and Wojnarowski provides context (Minnesota had the sixth, fourth and second overall draft picks from 2009 to 2011 and came away with disappointments Jonny Flynn, Wes Johnson and Derrick Williams). That has led to a crazy-quilt of roster building. “You walk into the locker room every year, and it’s completely turned over,” Love said. “You start to wonder: Is there really a plan here? Is there really any kind of a … plan?”

But most of the piece dwells on Love’s disenchantment with the franchise and the prospect that he could leave via an opt-out clause in 2015.

Love will never get over how badly he wanted the designation as the Wolves’ franchise player, how deeply he believed it had been deserved and how Kahn was so smugly defiant in refusing to recognize it. When the Wolves should’ve been throwing a parade that Love wanted a five-year maximum contract designation a year ago, the franchise could forever regret the consequences of telling a superstar player he wasn’t worth that commitment.

For as foolish as it was to tell a first-team All-NBA forward, an Olympian, that that the Wolves would be saving the super max deal for someone else, Taylor and Kahn somehow gave into Love’s insistence of an opt-out after the third year of the four-year deal. Privately, Kahn has told people that he isn’t worried, that the Wolves can pay Love the most money on the market and that he doesn’t believe he’ll leave for less.

It’s a terrible miscalculation.

The story, obviously, went viral in Minnesota, dividing the Twin Cities like Moses’ staff, only not along traditional Minneapolis vs. St. Paul allegiances. No, this split is between those who blame the Wolves for messing with the team’s first superstar since Kevin Garnett in a star-dependent league and those irritated by what sounds like ego and lack of appreciation from a 24-year-old grumbling that he had to settle for $62 million rather than $80 million.

It’s not that simple, of course. Love know he is set financially for life, not just off his current deal but whatever he lands after that, whenever and wherever. But it was the statement Kahn and Taylor made by holding back that fifth year compared to, say, the way Chicago embraced Derrick Rose, not just with five years but without even offering or being asked for an out clause.

Are the Wolves holding that five-year deal (the CBA permits a club to extend only one player that long) for Ricky Rubio? Does it have anything to do with Rubio being a Kahn draft pick – he fell into the Wolves’ laps at No. 5 in 2009, right before Kahn grabbed the point guard he liked – and Love being a leftover from Kevin McHale‘s regime?

As for the team’s prospects as a perennial contender, coach Rick Adelman – a longtime Love pal from their days in the Portland area, where the Wolves star hooped with an Adelman son – has organized the basketball operation on and off the court. He even has increased his personnel input. But Adelman is 66, Andrei Kirilenko and Luke Ridnour will both turn 32 this season and, well, Kahn’s track record remains as spotty as ever.

From the Wolves’ side, there was the issue of Taylor, a central figure in the 2011 lockout as chairman of the NBA’s Board of Governors, almost immediately handing out a contract of maximum length and cost so soon after a claimed fiscal crisis. And the truth is, Love – two-time All-Star, U.S. gold medal-winner, rare inside-outside threat as a top rebounder and 3-point – hadn’t put Minnesota on his back to a playoff berth the way, oh, Rose (with way more help) had.

Missing the start of the season with the broken hand surely didn’t help Love’s mood. His push-back from basketball after the London Olympics had him returning in less than his stellar shape last season. He resumed life as a double-double machine, but his accuracy has been way off – 38.2 FG percent, 21.6 from the arc and 67.4 from the line thanks to the bum hand – and the Wolves are only 4-5 since he’s been back. Team insiders have caught him arguing calls with refs rather than getting back on defense, or holding his 3-point form rather than crashing the boards when he misses.

Soon, maybe even this week, there’s the prospect of Rubio coming back and igniting the 9-9 team again the way he did as a rookie. If that happens, maybe the charismatic point guard would be more deserving of the five-year deal.

He’d have to want to stay in Minnesota, mind you, despite the prospect of Love leaving.

Report: Rubio’s Return Is Near

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Minnesota Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman has much to be thankful for during this holiday season. By almost every measure, his team overachieved throughout the first three weeks of the season, before slip-sliding through their current five-game losing streak.

In addition, he recently got All-Star power forward Kevin Love back in the lineup from injury.

And there could be more good fortune for the Adelman and the Timberwolves in the form of a healthy and fully recovered (from ACL surgery) Ricky Rubio. Originally believed to be on his way back sometime in the middle to end of December, there are signs that he could return sooner than expected.

Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune has the details, or better yet the lack of concrete details, coming from the Timberwolves regarding Rubio:

David Kahn said he still isn’t putting a timetable on Rubio’s return, as he hasn’t done all along.

But there’s no question Rubio’s return is getting closer, maybe closer than expected, particularly if you weren’t expecting him back until Christmas or later.

He’s been working out quite vigorously on his own before games — just saw him working up a sweat shooting and doing other drills — and it’s certainly possible he could be back in a game perhaps even sometime that first week of December, or shortly thereafter.

After watching Damian Lillard and Wes Matthews torch the Wolves Friday night in Portland, they could certainly use his defense.

“When he was healthy last year, he was very good keeping the people in front of him,” Rick Adelman said. “He was able to control the guard he was guarding and not let him get around him. He was in the Top 5 in steals. He was always in the right spot defensively as a team defender, too. He’ll help us. He’s give us a little more size there. His instincts will help us a lot.”

If the Timberwolves have any chance of saving themselves from their current dip on the dark side of the standings, they’ll need to do it now.

The sooner Rubio gets back into the flow — along with Love — the better chance they’ll have to do exactly that.

Bobcats and Timberwolves … Rising?




HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Don’t rub your eyes. It’s real. As of this morning, the Charlotte Bobcats and Minnesota Timberwolves are both doing the unthinkable for two teams that have served as league-wide punching bags in recent seasons.

All the fun we’ve had at the expense of Bobcats owner Michael Jordan and Timberwolves boss David Kahn has been silenced by the winning ways, so far, of their respective teams. They are both 5-4 and battling their way to respectability while shaking off whatever adversity comes their way.

For all of the early-season shockers around the league, both good and bad, these two winning outfits have to rank at or near the top of the list of biggest surprises.

One of the better games of this young season was the 89-87 thriller they played against each other last week, the one where Kemba Walker‘s buzzer-beater gave the Bobcats their third straight win.

Last night’s comeback win over the Milwaukee Bucks was another quality notch for Bobcats belt this season. They’re digging out of that ugly hole from last season in the only way possible: with their heads down, their defensive style looking legitimate and contributions from up and down the roster.

It’s more than most of us expected from a team with a new coach (Mike Dunlap), a new star (rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist) and plenty of other new faces added to the mix and continue to defy the odds. Jordan probably didn’t see this coming, not this soon. They didn’t win their fifth game during last year’s lockout-shortened season until March 12, just so we’re clear about how much progress has been made.

The Timberwolves are thriving on the other side of the conference divide without the services of their biggest stars. All-Star power forward Kevin Love (broken hand) and Ricky Rubio (recovering from torn ACL in left knee) have yet to suit up this season. Brandon Roy‘s comeback has been derailed by yet another knee procedure (he’s expected to miss at least a month) and Chase Budinger is out three months after knee surgery).

But Rick Adelman, as he often does, has found a way to cobble together enough healthy bodies to make the Timberwolves a factor every night. Andre Kirilenko‘s return to the NBA has been a huge boost. He leads the team in rebounds (8.3) and blocks (2.2). Fellow Russian Alexey Shved has also made an impression during his first few weeks of NBA action, showing signs that he’ll be a more than competent backup to Rubio, who, according to Jon Krawcynski of the Associated Press, has already started light practice workouts.

“Just having them five-on-(none) gives you a sense that when you get them back we’ll be pretty good,” Adelman said of having both Love and Rubio on the practice court. “We can’t wait for them. We have to go out there and play. But it gives us a sense.”

Love is expected back at the start of December and Rubio potentially a couple of weeks later, which couldn’t come at a better time. After winning five of their first seven games, the Timberwolves have dropped two straight.

Getting by with a shorthanded roster can last for only so long. Nikola Pekovic, not exactly a household name, leads the team in scoring (15.3), with Kirilenko (14.1), Luke Ridnour (11.4), Shved (10.4) and Derrick Williams (10.4) the only other healthy players scoring in that range.

If they can manage for another few weeks or so, at least until the first wave of reinforcements arrive, both the Bobcats and Timberwolves might remain among the teams boasting .500 or better records around Christmas, too.

Rubio’s knee, not timetable, matters

 

They waited two years for him after spending the No. 5 pick in the 2009 draft on a worth-the-gamble move. What’s the big deal if the Minnesota Timberwolves have to wait another three months? Or even four?

Ricky Rubio wants to be ready when he’s ready.

Only days shy of a training camp he’ll experience mostly as a bystander, Rubio continued his rehabilitation from knee surgery at the team’s practice facility. He is one of several NBA guards (Derrick Rose, Eric Maynor, Iman Schumpert) fighting back from torn ligaments, each on a timetable dictated less by the date of his injury than his body’s reaction to the repair.

Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune caught up with Rubio Thursday:

Back running on his surgically repaired knee for the third week now, … Rubio stopped long enough Thursday at Target Center to show off three scars that stripe his left leg and said he could play his next NBA game by December, nine months after he tore two ligaments there.

“I don’t know, they say December, but it could be January,” he said. “I don’t want to say a time because I don’t want to rush it. I want to be ready when I am ready.” (more…)

Love Liking Wolves’ Summer Moves

 

Not so long ago, Kevin Love didn’t seem like the happiest of campers regarding his whereabouts, present or future, with the Timberwolves of Minnesota.

Nothing against the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but Love was weary of playing for the Franchise of 10,000 Mistakes

In his five NBA seasons, Minnesota had lost nearly 74 percent of its games (104-290). He was the only member of Team USA this summer (newbie Anthony Davis excepted) who never has tasted the playoffs. The Wolves roster last season still looked like a halfway house for players of doomed potential. And Love wasn’t thrilled when owner Glen Taylor and basketball president David Kahn played hardball and held fast to a four- rather than five-year contract extension. That early-out after three years started looking good almost immediately.

But Love’s spirits clearly seemed buoyed Tuesday by his experiences at the London Olympics and some time away from the Wolves’ 2011-12 grind. He met with some Twin Cities media types sporting a fancy bauble around his neck and some sincere optimism for a team that largely has been made over. Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote:

On Tuesday, he showed off his Olympic gold medal at a summer-ending Target Center news conference and declared himself pleased with management’s moves that included adding veteran Brandon Roy, Andrei Kirilenko, Lou Amundson as well as Greg Stiemsma and Alexey Shved while letting Michael Beasley, Anthony Randolph, Darko Milicic and others go.

“There’s definitely a different feel going into the locker room, definitely a different feel just being down there playing with those guys,” said Love, who arrived back in the Twin Cities from Southern California late last week. “I’m really excited, I’m really excited about this team. … I think we’ve definitely added value to this team. I think the locker room is going to be great. I think the players we have on this team can make an immediate impact.”

(more…)

Adelman Bites Darko Dog

When Timberwolves Glen Taylor mentioned in an interview for a magazine profile that coach Rick Adelman wanted underachieving center Darko Milicic – “flatlining” would be a usable adjective too – gone from the roster after last season, some corners of the blogosphere lit up.

It was, after all, precisely what the Interwebs were designed for. NBA Owner Reveals Coach Ripping Player. Go with it! Now! Then sit back and count the clicks.

Here is the pertinent passage from Twin Cities Business magazine:

But most of the Wolves-related headlines concerned [GM David] Kahn’s persistent attempts to upgrade the talent on the roster. Behind the scenes, as promised, Adelman was providing input and helping with the decisions.

“Most of the moves David is making are heavily influenced by what Rick has asked of us. But when it comes to finances, David will tell Rick no,” Taylor reveals. “At the end of the year, Rick gives me a report of what he thinks of each player. He tells me it’s the same one he gave David and that David knows he is giving it to me. Then he goes through the list. He says, ‘This is the first one I want gone’—that was [underachieving veteran center] Darko [Milicic]. ‘This is the second one I want gone. This is what I think of this player.’ “

(more…)

Ricky Rubio To Return In December, Brandon Roy Ready Now For T’Wolves

 

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Now that the Minnesota Timberwolves have a firm timetable as to when Ricky Rubio will rejoin his teammates on the court, they can move on to the business of crafting a potent attack without one of the best young point guards in the league.

Rubio’s injury and absence last season all but dashed the faint playoff hopes the Timberwolves had. They didn’t have another dynamic playmaker on the team to balance the floor as All-Star power forward (and recent gold medal winner) Kevin Love continued his assault on opposing teams and the stat sheet. But in a summer filled with twists and turns, they did come up with a player capable of not only balancing the floor but taking over games, if his knees hold up, in Brandon Roy.

No offense to Russian rookie point guard Aleksey Shved, who was something of a revelation this summer in London during the Olympics, but the Timberwolves are going to need more than what we think he can give in Rubio’s absence.

If this footage (above) is any indication, Roy appears to be ready to resume the All-Star activities he displayed in Portland, where he starred before knee injury issues forced him to retire before the start of last season.

If he can provide a spark during the first month of the season, Rubio’s return in December should be another swift punch Rick Adelman can add to the Timberwloves’ arsenal this season. The roster is as sound as it’s been in years and the optimism surrounding Rubio’s return is yet another step in a new direction for a franchise that’s been searching for an identity since the Kevin Garnett era ended.

(more…)

Roy Never Closed Door On Comeback

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Brandon Roy is back.

Just over seven months ago, Roy walked away from the game, due to his degenerative knees. At the time, he was just 27 years old and had played just five seasons in the league. Six days after the news broke, the Blazers used the amnesty clause to waive Roy, who had three years and $49 million left on his contract.

But at some point this year, Roy decided to see if he could play again. In fact, he says he never really closed the door on a comeback.

“For me, it was never that I was retired,” Roy said at his introductory news conference in Minnesota on Tuesday. “My knees were a situation that I was going to have to think about if I wanted to continue playing. After a few months of sitting out, I decided, ‘Hey, I don’t want to stop playing basketball.’ It’s something I want to continue going forward with. It’s never a situation where I said, ‘I’m done forever.’ It was more of a pause.”

After two months of working out and undergoing the regenicin procedure that Kobe Bryant had last year, Roy felt good enough to get back in the league. And now, he joins a Timberwolves team that showed some promise last season and has also added Chase Budinger, Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved this summer. (more…)

Kirilenko Could Join Wolves’ Pack

HANG TIME, Texas – You can never say that Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn lets the grass grow under his feet. If he delivers on the rumor of sending Wesley Johnson to Phoenix as part of a three-team trade that also includes New Orleans, he’ll have dealt away five first-round picks in just two years.

More important, he could bounce back after losing out on the offer sheet to Nicolas Batum by bringing forward Andrei Kirilenko back to the NBA from Russia.

According to the relentless Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, there would be a sign-and-trade deal that sends Robin Lopez and Hakim Warrick to the Hornets and also a lottery-protected first-round draft pick to the Suns.

The teams were still finalizing details, but sources said that Lopez, a restricted free agent, was returning soon from a vacation to take a physical for the Hornets. New Orleans had been working diligently for weeks on acquiring a center to play alongside No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis, and give Davis some inside support.

Kirilenko has a buyout in his CSKA of Moscow contract that allows him to return to the NBA. He ruled out the Brooklyn Nets and Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov on Tuesday because the Nets simply couldn’t pay him beyond the veteran’s minimum of $1.2 million, sources said. Kirilenko has been searching for a deal that would pay him in the vicinity of $8 million annually, and Minnesota could have the cap space to do so.

Minnesota is signing another Russian, point guard Alexey Shved, to a free-agent contract. The T’wolves signed Portland restricted free agent Nicolas Batum to a $45 million offer sheet, but the Trail Blazers matched the money to retain him.

Kirilenko, 31, is eight years older, but would fill many of the same needs the Timberwolves were chasing when they went after Batum. After playing 10 NBA seasons with the Jazz, Kirilenko spent last season with CSKA Moscow, where he was named Euroleague MVP.

It’s said that a two-year, $18 million offer with a player option for a third season could close the deal for Kirilenko. It’s a far cry from the $17 million he was paid by the Jazz in 2010-11, but would be money well spent for a Wolves roster that could use a defender on the front line.

Love Impatient With Wolves’ Losing





Something has to happen in Minnesota.

That sounds like an ultimatum, even though Kevin Love — the frustrated Timberwolves power forward who said it, in an interview with Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports — isn’t in the best position anymore to give one.

Love would have been, of course, had he opted to play the 2012-13 season on a one-year qualifying offer of about $6.1 million, rather than accept a four-year, $61 million contract extension in January that was frustrating in its own right to the Wolves’ leader and inside-outside punisher. If Love were 12 months away from unrestricted free agency rather than 36 (his deal has an opt-out after three years), you can bet both Minnesota management and the team’s fan base would be heeding — and probably convulsing — over every dissatisfied thing he said.

As it is, Love has no actual hammer to hold over president of basketball operations David Kahn’s and owner Glen Taylor’s heads. He’ll have to settle for the less-tangible weapons of public relations and threatened crankiness by a star player.

That’s not nothing, though. So with just a little less clout behind it, Love’s message remains the same: Something has to happen in Minnesota. (more…)