There may not be a more fascinating front office than Minnesota’s, where GM David Kahn has been a lightning rod of criticism ever since 2009, when he succeeded Kevin McHale. He drafted Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn with consecutive picks in the same 2009 NBA Draft and gave Darko Milicic a $20 million contract, but also kept Kevin Love in uniform until at least 2015. This offseason was no different in Minneapolis, either. Most interesting are the doubts and decisions stemming from the latest moves from inside the organization itself.
MinnPost posted a full interview with Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, who gives a candid look into the decision making in the front office, and where the buck stops with certain moves. One of the most interesting is also one of the more predictable, actually: Kahn is giddy about once-retired Brandon Roy but head coach Rick Adelman is less than convinced he’ll be healthy.
“Brandon Roy, you might think that is the coach, but that is more David. I think it is David saying, ‘Let give this player to Rick and get the backup in place in case it doesn’t work out.’ Because Rick keeps saying to me, ‘I don’t know if he can play!’ And I tell him, ‘Rick, I don’t know if he can play either!’ So the Brandon Roy thing is a risk.”
Uh, yes. He’s certainly a risk. So it was prudent to bring in a talented swingman to take pressure off the Roy bet, yeah? What about Nicolas Batum?
“The coach wanted a guy who could defend more than one position, and David found the best person who fit that description in [Nicholas] Batum. We overpaid to try and get him but we lost him. So then we went after Kirilenko.
Well at least Taylor admitted that the Wolves completely overpaid on the offer sheet to Batum, a $45 million contract that Portland (with which Minnesota has a quiet, nasty rivalry) is now taking. Batum could be a star if he increases his usage and becomes more of a corner three specialist, but the Wolves were committing a ton of money to a “what if” scenario. Then again, they had reason: Batum’s agent is on record saying he’d rather play in Minnesota than Portland, signaling a clear desire to be there. Contrast that with Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph, whom the Wolves were happy to cut free. What’s one reason for that? Beasley forgets about his teammates and Randolph just forgets things, in general.
What Rick said about Michael was, ‘Yes, Michael has been good. I get along with him. But I don’t think we’ll be a championship team with him. If I put Michael in, Michael can score, but he doesn’t play any defense and he forgets the other offensive players, and I just can’t tolerate that under my system because the other players are just standing around.’ … The coach would have put up with Randolph if we had gotten rid of Beasley. He said Randolph isn’t really a problem, he just can’t remember things. When he was going down his list and got to Randolph, he said, ‘I think he should be off the team. But if these things were taken care of and I had to deal with it, I can deal with a kid like him because he is more of an introvert, he’s not a nasty kid.'”
That’s less a ringing endorsement of Randolph than a indictment of Beasley, who apparently made everything worse in their locker room. Beasley had promising stretches last year in the sixth man role, and I even talked with him last winter about said role. He didn’t hide his displeasure that he wasn’t starting, but seemed to be adapting knowing that he was close to wearing out his welcome in a contract year with Minnesota. Last week Love called out those two by association. “I think heading forward, there are a number of guys that will help us, especially in relation to last year,” he said to the ESPN. “There are a lot of guys that will help us and help our locker room.”
The Timberwolves won’t have Rubio back until at least late December, but they’ll still be a team to keep an eye on this year. Maybe not on League Pass, but in the headlines.
Will Brandon Roy be efficient this year?
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