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News » David Kahn appeals to Timberwolves fans in an open letter

David Kahn appeals to Timberwolves fans in an open letter

David Kahn appeals to Timberwolves fans in an open letter MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Timberwolves are not the worst team in the NBA, but they're close. Worse, they haven't yet shown they'll get much better this season.

Maybe that's why David Kahn believed he had to reach out Saturday.

In an open letter released to newspapers, the Timberwolves' president of Basketball operations told the team's fans that losing "will not be accepted" and that as a franchise, "We need to do more."

"We all recognized when we signed up for this mission that it takes a Herculean effort, from all corners, to turn around a franchise and make it championship-caliber," Kahn wrote. "We obviously are not working hard enough yet. We need to do more. And we will."

Kahn was hired during the summer to rebuild a competitively dead franchise, and he spent the offseason cleaning house and clearing salary cap space for a promising 2010 free-agent class. Perhaps more important, he hired former NBA championship player and assistant coach Kurt Rambis to lead the way.

But 11 games into his tenure, the finish line seems incalculably far away, and the coach offered this sobering assessment before his team extended its losing skid to 10 games Saturday night with a 97-87 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies:

"We have all these things going against us right now, but all of these things will be resolved over time," Rambis said. "That's the unfortunate aspect of where we're at right now. This is not a quick fix. This is not going to happen in two weeks -- this is weeks, months, years ..."

One has to wonder how much patience Timberwolves fans have left.

After seven consecutive first-round playoff exits, the Wolves advanced to the Western Conference finals after the 2003-04 season. They haven't made the postseason since. They flopped in 2004-05, and then-general manager Kevin McHale began trading away veterans to rebuild a team whose biggest accomplishment was advancing past the first round of the playoffs once.

When star and former league most valuable player Kevin Garnett was sent to Boston in 2007, the white flag was raised. The Timberwolves received Al Jefferson and vowed to rebuild around the budding star. Two seasons later, Jefferson is struggling through his return from season-ending knee surgery, but that's only one issue the team faces.

Kevin Love, the team's 2008 first-round draft pick, has missed all season because of a broken left hand and likely is out until next month. Jonny Flynn, the second of three 2009 first-round picks, has proved more adept at freelancing than running the triangle offense. Corey Brewer's shot still needs substantial work. Wayne Ellington, the team's third 2009 first-rounder, appears to be a project and top pick Ricky Rubio is in Spain at least until the 2011-12 season.

It doesn't help that the team is still learning to play together. Three of the Wolves' starters Saturday are new to the team, and one of the veterans was Brewer, who played only 15 games last season because of a serious knee injury. Plus, they're all learning a new system.

"You're looking at nobody here knowing anything about our system, offensive or defensively," Rambis said. "There's no holdover, there's no one to help teach. They're all learning at the same time. And we have a bunch of young guys who are trying to learn the league.

"All of those things combined don't lend themselves to productivity. It just doesn't."

It doesn't necessarily add up to a 41-point loss at Golden State, either, which brings up another issue.

"We have to put a whole game together in order to see where we can be, instead of playing 26 minutes, 30 minutes of a 48-minute game and wonder where it went wrong," forward Ryan Gomes said. "You have to be able to sustain effort and energy from the beginning and all the way through."

Thus far, neither Rambis nor Kahn has ranted or raved, each trying hard to strike a balance between accepting the inevitable learning curve and not accepting outright poor play.

"People just see the losses," Rambis said. "I know a lot of the things that happened in this organization in the past, good and bad, but this is kind of our Ground Zero from where we'll move forward. The team is going to look to me to see how I handle things, and I told them at the start of the season that this is going to be about education."

But with the new system, the new players -- the total overhaul -- one wonders if in a peripatetic league like the NBA there are enough players who will remain with this team long enough for that to pay off. Will there be?

"I believe so," the coach said. "That's my goal."

Online: To read Kahn's letter to fans, go to .

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: November 16, 2009


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