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News » Minnesota Timberwolves Getting Inside 2009-05-28

Minnesota Timberwolves Getting Inside 2009-05-28

Minnesota Timberwolves Getting Inside 2009-05-28
Five weeks after their season's end and five weeks before they enter an NBA draft in which they own three first-round picks, the Timberwolves on May 22 introduced former Indiana Pacers general manager David Kahn as their president of basketball operations to replace Kevin McHale.

Kahn received a bump in title from McHale's vice president job description and vowed he has been given absolute authority to guide a franchise that hasn't reached the playoffs since 2004.

The former sportswriter turned lawyer and league executive spent nine seasons with the Pacers, four as general manager and the last as a consultant in 2004. They reached the Eastern Conference finals four times and the NBA Finals once in those nine years and then did NBA commissioner David Stern a favor by owning, and selling, four NBA Development League teams.

His hiring ended an extended search that came three weeks after Wolves owner Glen Taylor said he had hoped to hire a new basketball boss.

Chosen by Taylor for both his business and basketball acumen after a guarded, prolonged search in which three other candidates withdrew, Kahn vowed he will promptly determine with responsibility and sensitivity whether McHale will return as coach. He also promised his new team will win back disenchanted fans through its new accessibility and transparency.

Three candidates withdrew from consideration in a search that began shortly after Taylor fired coach Randy Wittman and stripped McHale of his front-office duties when he asked the team's longtime basketball boss to move to the coach's seat.

Taylor said he used the same process he uses in choosing CEOs for the 80 companies he runs. That process includes hiring a company that helps corporations identify potential job candidates' leadership skills through extensive psychological testing.

San Antonio assistant general manager Dennis Lindsey, former Miami GM Randy Pfund and Portland assistant GM Tom Penn withdrew from consideration as the search progressed. Penn's agent said on May 18 that his client turned down the Wolves' job offer to remain in Portland after the Blazers put on a "full-court press" and offered a promotion.

Taylor said Taylor said he chose Kahn because of both his legal and basketball background, and because he had been mentored by respected NBA executive Donnie Walsh in Indiana, a Midwestern market similar in size and style to Minneapolis.

Kahn said he thought he was about to land the job more than two weeks ago, but Taylor and CEO Rob Moor wanted more time to investigate outstanding debts and legal issues Kahn had incurred in running his four NBA Development League teams. They also had some concerns that Kahn's family will remain in his hometown of Portland, Ore., where his wife owns an ad agency, while Kahn planned to set up a home in Minnesota.

Asked the impression that Kahn was his third or fourth choice, Taylor said, "I'd say that's completely wrong. I don't know how stronger to say it. That's inaccurate. ... We've had nobody turn the job down."

Taylor said he had enough concern about Kahn's D League dealings that he called other D League owners to investigate. He said he is fully aware of financial problems in running a league like that and said he became convinced all of Kahn's issues "already had been worked out or will be worked out."

"I didn't ask to do the D League," Kahn said. "It was an incredibly challenging environment. We didn't have one team, we had four teams. Four times the problems, four times the amount of investors. In truth, I'm very proud of what we accomplished in the D League. We steered what was a very bumpy, rocky ship to safe harbor."

Now Taylor is asking him, in many ways, to do the same with an NBA franchise that traded away its superstar two summers ago and has won 46 games over the last two seasons. That's why Taylor said he has turned to Kahn to guide his team with "fresh eyes." It's also why he said Kahn has complete authority to, for example, keep McHale or assistant general manager Fred Hoiberg, or not.

SEASON HIGHLIGHT: January. After a 2-14 December left them 6-25, the Wolves started the month a startling 10-2 and ended it with losses to Detroit and the L.A. Lakers. A single month offered hope that the Wolves had turned the proverbial corner, and it won Kevin McHale the Western Conference Coach of the Month award.

TURNING POINT: Al Jefferson's season-ending knee injury late in a game on Feb. 8 in New Orleans. Just when it looked like McHale had guided a dramatic turnaround, the Wolves lost the player around whom their new coach had organized everything. Jefferson landed awkwardly and hopped across the floor clutching his right knee, which he discovered the next morning had a torn anterior cruciate ligament. The Wolves went 7-26 the rest of the way without him.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: May 28, 2009


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