In the wake of David Kahn's dismissal as the Timberwolves' head of basketball operations, Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune sat down with Kahn for an extensive interview about his time running the team. The entire piece is very much worth your time, particularly if you're a fan of the T-Wolves, as Kahn goes into detail on the club's decision not to give Kevin Love a five-year deal, the hirings of Kurt Rambis and Rick Adelman, how missing Kenneth Faried inspired a scouting overhaul, and plenty more. Here are a few of the more notable quotes from Kahn in the four-part feature:
On how well positioned he has left the Wolves:
"Highly well positioned. I think it’s a team that’s a force to be reckoned with the next seven to 10 years. Very few teams, when you think about it, have the star power contained in Ricky [Rubio] and Kevin. [Nikola] Pekovic is becoming a significant player at his position in the league. You have [Andrei] Kirilenko, [Alexey] Shved, [J.J.] Barea, [Chase] Budinger, there’s a lot and I’m leaving people out. There’s just a lot of talent on the roster and it’s mostly young talent, mid-20s and under. I think the team is very well positioned to make a serious run these next several years. The organization is better positioned than it was and the facilities are better. We made major strides and upgrades in almost every area of the franchise because frankly, when I arrived here, this was a very distressed situation."
On the decision to draft Jonny Flynn sixth overall in 2009:
"I’m hired on May 22nd, 2009. There are four GMs or assistant GMs who have been scouting the entire year and one of their complaints to me was that despite all their scouting work in the past, in the end nobody would listen to them and my predecessor would take who he wanted to take…. We needed a point guard on the team, we knew Ricky couldn’t come…. And so the scouts had Flynn as the No. 1 point guard. And I had just emerged from several meetings where all they were saying to me was nobody ever listens to us and I like Jonny too, so please don’t mistake that. I could see a lot of the appeal and so to that extent, that’s the reason that pick was made."
On signing Darko Milicic to a four-year, $20MM contract:
"Kurt Rambis and Dave Wohl both were big proponents of making the trade. And once we obtained Darko, I could see what they were talking about. Darko has enormous skills. Both Kurt and Bill Laimbeer played the big-man position in the league and they felt if it ever worked out for him psychologically, he could be one of the top three or four centers in the league. And again the risk point was quite low when we made the trade and even the contract we gave him that many people talked about was really no more than what a backup center gets in our league this days, about $4MM a year. We didn’t pay him as a starting center even though we had him ticketed as our starting center. So I think there were some reasons to do it and I recognize those reasons even today."
On rumors that Kahn was willing to trade Love for Anthony Randolph in 2010:
"Not true. I never have ever wanted to trade Kevin, ever. And there was no way as I sat in the chair that I would have recommended to the owner that we do so. That’s a fact."
On whether the cap relief gained by trading Al Jefferson made the deal worthwhile:
"Absolutely. First of all, there’s no way Kevin would have had a breakout if Al had still been here. Too many people focus all the time on the offensive end of the court and not enough on the defensive end. The issue isn’t can Al and Kevin co-exist offensively. The issue is the strain it puts on a team defensively because we’re short and we don’t change ends very well and it already was becoming a huge issue for our team. And so the trick was to have the kind of financial flexibility for that season and beyond. Al’s number was going to suck up a lot of room and would make a lot of moves almost to make. We needed that kind of relief to let Kevin breathe on the court and to let the roster breathe financially so we could make some other changes. Having not to take back salaries that added up to him was critically important because usually when you do that you’re just perpetuating the same kind of bottleneck. We needed to eliminate the bottleneck."
On whether Kahn wants to stay in the league:
"I don’t know yet. When all the speculation the last couple weeks started to incur, I had a call from inside basketball and from outside basketball. So I don’t know yet. I’ll stay here and attend to some affairs for now. There’s a lot to do."