Andy G: So Kurt Rambis is somehow coaching an NBA team again, and that team plays at Target Center tonight. Knicks vs. Wolves. It’s natural to use this chance to look back on his time in ‘Sota. Kurt’s first Wolves team won 15 games. His second Wolves team won 17 games. I’d imagine no franchise in league history has gone consecutive seasons without winning even 18 games, but I don’t know that for sure.
Let’s cut to the chase: What was your favorite “lowlight” of the Rambis Era? (Eds note: Should we really be calling this the “Kahnbis” Era?) Was it starting Darko and Ryan Hollins over Kevin Love for much of the 2009-10 season? Because that one is pretty hilarious especially if — like us — you’re not a K-Love fan.
Patrick J: My favorite lowlight of the Kahnbis era was what it did for the self-loathing crowd, writ large, which makes up much of the (hardcore) Timberwolves fan base. (Eds. Note: You know who you are, guys, it’s okay.) So let’s drill down: There were two big moments for me. First, the Kahn molecule fused with the Rambis one to create Kahnbis. That is, David Kahn got to have a large say in a big decision that shaped subsequent years of the franchise’s prospects. We know how it turned out. Still, if you’re Vegas, you love David Kahn The Gambler. Second, Kahnbis criminally shat on Kevin Love when the majority of the fan base could see that we had something in Love. It did nothing to humble Love – and it probably emboldened him – but it was entertaining in that je ne sais quois shadenfreude way. (Eds. Note: Insert other passive aggressive foreign words here.) The memory that stands out is Rambis taking perhaps the worst possible paternalistic to Love, which was one part dismissive and another part passive-aggressive. As much as I dislike Kevin Love – not because I don’t respect his skills, but because of most everything else – would it have been possible to treat him worse? And what should we think more of Love for becoming what he is – as imperfect as that is – in spite of the “coaching” Kurt gave him?
After five days off that included a Mexican vacation and postponement of a Spurs matchup, the Timberwolves return to action tonight at Target Center. They face the two-time defending champion Miami Heat. The Wolves will be without Kevin Love, who is home with family mourning the loss of his grandmother. (Eds note: Best wishes to Love and family.)
The Heat has lost two consecutive games; the latter being a 20-point drumming by the Roseless Bulls on TNT. They’ve been without Dwyane Wade, but the reports on Twitter indicate he’s shooting around and might play tonight. That’s not good news for a Wolves team trying to get back to .500 without its own best player. In any event, it will be a fun game to watch because… well, LeBron James.
But we’re less interested in the MVP or his All-Star teammates than we are a former Timberwolf returning to Target Center with career-best numbers and a renewed sense of basketball purpose. That’s right, we’re talking about the one and only Supercool Mike Beasley, a longtime PDW favorite.
Beasley is only playing 17.6 minutes per game, but that’s 17.6 more than just about anybody expected after his famous regression from prized draft prospect and promising young talent to inefficient chucker who didn’t play defense but did get himself into off-court troubles. Beas isn’t just playing in Erik Spoelstra’s rotation. He’s playing REALLY well. His 23.2 points per 36 minutes is a career high. So is his 54.6 field goal percentage, which is downright ridiculous for a combo forward like himself.
Beas has always had obvious talent and it appears he’s finally begun to tap into it in a way that helps an NBA team win games. The Heat are playing 12.9 points better than opponents, per 100 possessions, with Beasley on the floor. Suffice it to say this is a sharp change from his recent seasons in Phoenix and Minnesota. It’s also way better than LeBron and the other Heat starters, which is probably unsustainable but nevertheless a reflection of how well he’s been playing.
For more on Supercool Mike’s improvement, check out Tom Haberstroh’s espn.com feature (Insider, sorry).
We thought it appropriate to preview tonight’s matchup by recalling our favorite Beasley stories.
Without further ado…
#10 – The Kevin Love 30/30 Game…in which Beas dropped 35 (Andy G)
Well, how about that. David Kahn is out and Flip Saunders is in, and the appropriate response from sports fans from Minnesota and beyond should be a collective shoulder shrug. Plenty of others have done a better job of eulogizing/pulverizing Kahn than I ever could, and besides I have always been much more of a Kahn supporter than is welcome ‘round the internet. I think he made a bunch of 50-50 gambles on young players and lost every time, took the safe pick in the draft every time (and lost), and talked too much. On the other hand, I have stringently defended his handling of the Kevin Love situation and think he did the impossible by bringing not only Rick Adelman (the most competent coach in the entirety of Minnesota sports during my time on this earth), but also bringing in Kurt Rambis, who if you all don’t remember was *the* heir apparent to Phil Jackson, and a top coaching candidate at the time the Wolves were at rock bottom. This is to say nothing of his post-Jewish-summer-camp-like long-distance courting of a certain Spanish point guard that miraculously brought Youtubio over from Spain.
From Darren Wolfson on Twitter:
Wolfson has more to say on his conversation with Glen Taylor here.
The Wolves ownership situation is important for a few reasons. It was reported on Friday that David Kahn will be let go as President of Basketball Operations. But then the team, Kahn himself, and the reported successor, Flip Saunders, all denied that a final decision had been made. It seems likely that this reported development on the ownership front will have implications for Kahn.
You must leave now, take what you need, you think will last
But whatever you wish to keep, you better grab it fast
Yonder stands your orphan with his gun
Crying like a fire in the sun
Look out the saints are comin’ through
And it’s all over now, Baby Blue.
Steve Aschburner broke the story this Friday morning on Twitter:
David Kahn is out. Flip Saunders is [probably] in. (Flip went on ESPN later today and explained that no deal was finalized.) But the big news — the part that sent much of Timberwolves Twitter into hysteria — was unequivocal: The Kahn Era is complete. Done. No more draft picks and no more press conferences. No more “Show of hands?” and no more “Michael smoked too much marijuana.” No more Syracuse. Praise God, no more Syracuse. No matter who takes over the job, the David Kahn reign as President of Timberwolves Basketball can be gravestoned 2009-2013. Continue reading
Bill Simmons’ ever-intriguing “Trade Value” series of columns has begun over at Grantland. He has lots of provocative, interesting opinions, whether or not you agree with any/many of them. Simmons, tongue-in-cheek as can ever, also talks a lot of sense from angles that matter: player potential and history, team cap situation, and team need. It makes for a good read.
There are a bunch of guys I’d flag as worth checking out to see if Simmons’ idiosyncratic ratings comport with your own. But none more than DeMarcus Cousins, the almost-Wolf who was passed over in favor of Wesley Johnson.
I found what Simmons had to say – both the goods and the bads – remain revealing about what a team might be getting in Cousins. This isn’t directly Wolves’ related except insofar as he easily could’ve been a Wolf and probably still would be had we drafted him at #4 instead of Wes Johnson, but Simmons makes a fairly credible case both about what’s wrong (and right) with Cousins, what’s wrong in SAC, and how we might come to see this behemoth talent realize at least a good part of its massive potential.
Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor
Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor did a long interview with Ray Richardson that appeared in the Pioneer Press on Sunday. There’s a lot there, and it’s worth reading in full: Taylor talks about the status of Rick Adelman and David Kahn for next season, as well as how the Brandon Roy debacle has played out.
Yet much of the interview is cryptic, leaving one to read between the lines for meaningful subtext. My takes are below the fold.