Timberwolves owner says he hasn’t decided if GM Kahn will be back

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We have taken our fair share of shots at Timberwolves’ GM David Kahn over the years, and he made some bad gambles this year (Brandon Roy), but the disappointment of this season in Minnesota is not on him — injuries to Ricky Rubio (miss half of season after ACL), Kevin Love (broke his hand twice) and pretty much everyone else on the roster did this team in.

Kahn’s status is still up in the air. He may well not be back with the Timberwolves next season.

Minnesota owner Glen Taylor said as much speaking with the Star-Tribune.

Taylor must decide whether to bring back Kahn next season by picking up the final option year on his contract. Kahn drafted, wooed and ultimately brought star point guard Ricky Rubio to Minnesota, and he patiently pursued Adelman as coach for months. He also has swung and missed on a lengthy list of draft picks, including lottery choices Jonny Flynn and Wes Johnson, as well as failed experiments with gifted underachievers Michael Beasley, Darko Milicic and Anthony Randolph.

By this time last year, Taylor already had long before decided to pick up Kahn’s fourth-year option. With two games now remaining, he said he remains undecided on Kahn’s future and has no timetable once the season ends to do so.

Part of this could be tied to reports that Taylor had found a minority ownership group that would come in and slowly take over the franchise for him (keeping it in Minnesota) — a group fronted by former coach Flip Saunders, who wants a front office role.

The biggest concern in Minnesota is the future plans of coach Rick Adelman, who is considering walking away from the game to be with his ill wife. He would be very hard to replace.

But after that there is what kind of deal to strike with restricted free agent Nikola Pekovic, how much to offer unrestricted free agent Chase Budinger, will Andrei Kirilenko pick up his $10.2 million option for next season. Adelman says the off-season priority needs to be to get a real two guard (what they hoped Brandon Roy might be, but that gamble didn’t work). And there’s more. Like the two first-round picks Minnesota has in this draft.

There will be a lot on the GM’s plate. Whoever it is. But this could be a turbulent summer for a team that seems poised to be a lot better next season.

How Ryan Anderson, Trevor Ariza complicate Rockets’ pursuit of third star

AP Photo/John Raoux
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After pairing Chris Paul and James Harden, the Rockets are reportedly chasing a third starPaul George, Carmelo Anthony or someone else.

But Houston parted with significant assets to land Paul from the Clippers. And the Rockets will have a tricky time dealing two remaining players, Ryan Anderson and Trevor Ariza.

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

Unloading Ryan Anderson to sign Paul outright would have helped Houston keep one of their outgoing guards, but the market for the three years and $60 million left on Anderson’s deal was frigid. Not even the Kings wanted him for free. At least two teams would have demanded two Houston first-round picks in exchange for absorbing Anderson, according to several league sources.

The salary filler probably can’t be Trevor Ariza, by the way. Ariza and Paul are close after years together in New Orleans, and playing with Ariza factored at least a little into Paul’s decision, per league sources. The Clippers had tried to trade for him in prior seasons, sources say. Ariza is also still good at a coveted position, and his Bird Rights will be valuable to a capped-out Rockets team next summer.

Anderson would be dangerous as a stretch four in pick-and-pops with Paul and Harden. Even if he’s overpaid, might be better to keep him than surrender more assets to dump him.

Likewise, Ariza is a nice two-way player and can play small-ball four. There’s a use for him on this team.

But beyond them, Houston is left with Eric Gordon and Clint Capela as movable players. Gordon, with a higher salary and less obvious fit with Paul and Harden, would almost certainly be a key cog in a trade for another star. Capela is younger and more valuable, though the Rockets would probably want to keep him as a defensive anchor.

That might not be possible while trading for a third star, though. Houston can’t even guarantee sending out another first-round pick in a trade after sending a protected first-rounder to the Clippers. (The Rockets could agree to convey a first-rounder two years after sending one to L.A., which would is highly likely to convey next year.) Including Capela in a trade might be the only way to assemble a suitable package.

Even then, Houston would be hard-pressed to surpass an offer from the Lakers or Celtics for George. Plus, if Indiana is rebuilding around Myles Turner, Capela is an awkward fit. That trade might require a third team – causing further complications.

Hoping Anthony gets bought out by the Knicks then signs for the mid-level exception is much simpler – though that route returns the lesser third star.

But Daryl Morey just brought Chris Paul to Houston before free agency even began. Now is not the time to underestimate the Rockets general manager.

Report: Knicks won’t consider Isiah Thomas to run front office

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A couple years ago, Knicks owner James Dolan said there was no scenario Isiah Thomas would return to the Knicks.

But Dolan also said a few months ago he’d keep Phil Jackson for the duration of Jackson’s five-year contract.

With Dolan effectively firing Jackson today, could Thomas become the Knicks’ next president?

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

The Post also learned Liberty president Isiah Thomas would not be considered for Jackson’s successor.

It’s sad that this needs to be reported. It’s even sadder that, even if this the Knicks’ plans right now, there are no assurances Dolan holds steady.

Dumping Jackson is a reason to celebrate. But as long as Dolan owns the team, it must be a reserved celebration.

At least the Knicks’ next step won’t include Thomas. Probably.

Raptors promote Bobby Webster to general manager

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TORONTO (AP) — With rumors swirling about the Knicks chasing Raptors president Masai Ujiri, the Raptors have promoted Bobby Webster to general manager.

Webster, 32 years old assistant the youngest GM in the NBA, replaces Jeff Weltman, who left Toronto in May to become president of the Orlando Magic.

A former staffer at the NBA league office in New York, Webster joined the Raptors in 2013 and was named assistant GM in 2016.

He’ll help decide what to offer All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry, who opted out of the final year of his contract last month after Cleveland swept Toronto in the second round of the playoffs.

Forwards Serge Ibaka, P.J. Tucker and Patrick Patterson are all unrestricted free agents.

Also Wednesday, Toronto promoted Dan Tolzman to assistant general manager.

The Raptors have posted consecutive 50-win seasons and made four straight playoff appearances.

Jason Williams out 6-8 months after injury in Big3 debut

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NEW YORK (AP) — Former NBA point guard Jason Williams will miss six to eight months after suffering a knee injury in the opening game of the Big3.

Corey Maggette, also injured in the opening week of Ice Cube’s 3-on-3 league of former NBA players, had surgery for a leg injury. There is no timetable for his return.

The injuries were announced Wednesday during a conference call with Cube and Big3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz, who also detailed a couple rules changes starting with this weekend’s game in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Games will be played to 50 points, instead of 60, with halftime coming when the first team reaches 25 points. Cube said that would help the four games per day move more quickly.