Give David Kahn credit, he hit a home run this summer

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Kicking Timberwolves General Manager David Kahn has been a favorite past time of bloggers and NBA writers for years.

With reason. There were moves like brining in Kurt Rambis as coach to run the triangle offense — an offense minimizes traditional point guard play — then instantly drafting Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn back-to-back at No. 5 and No. 6 in the draft. Rambis turned out to be a flop, anyway. There was giving a four-year deal to Darko Milicic. There were oh, so many more.

But give the man credit — this summer he knocked it out of the park.

He convinced Ricky Rubio to leave Barcelona and come over to the United States next season, even when there were serious questions if there would be a next season. Rubio has his flaws and his jump shot needs work (a lot of work), but he can defend and has a court vision you can’t teach. He could be special. And he’s just 20 but has been playing on the international stage for years.

Kahn then got lucky — the Timberwolves won just 17 games last season so they had the most ping pong balls in the lottery — and Kahn ended up with the No. 2 overall pick. He shopped it around, apparently asked for the moon, and when he didn’t get it he kept it. Then he did the right thing and took Derrick Williams with it — that guy can score at the NBA level and will be a good small forward. How much Williams can develop his defense and all around game remains to be seen, but he can finish and has looked good in transition and at the rim in pro-ams. Playing with Rubio he will get some chances to show that off.

And now Kahn has gone out and hired Rick Adelman as coach. It is a great hire for this team. (Not everyone agrees with that, but I think it is.)

First, Adelman comes in with a good relationship with Kevin Love, something Rambis lacked. Where that really matters is Love telling Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune that hiring Adelman makes it much more likely Love re-signs with Minnesota (he is up for an extension off his rookie deal whenever the lockout ends).

Where Love’s frayed relationship with his previous coach showed was when Rambis sat Love and used other tactics to get him to play better defense. Adelman comes in with gravitas, Love (and others) will listen to and respect him. They will follow. Also, both Love and Rubio are high hoops IQ guys, guys mature for their age, who should react well to Adelman’s style.

Adelman’s teams run, and with the Timberwolves roster (Love’s outlet passes, Rubio in transition, Williams and Beasley finishing) they must run. This team is made to run. The problem was last year the Wolves also turned the ball over a lot — Adelman’s teams do not do that.

When they do go into the half court, Adelman’s corner offense matches well with the triangle principles Rambis teaches and big men who can pass like Darko and Love. This should be a fit.

Kahn’s moves this summer have made the Timberwolves a lot better. They may not make the playoffs next season (this is a very deep West still and they have a long way to go) but this team is on the right track.

Minnesota got a lot better in the last few months because of David Kahn. He deserves the kudos now.

USA Basketball to host World Cup qualifier vs. Uruguay on Sept. 14 in Las Vegas

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (AP) — USA Basketball’s quest to qualify for next year’s FIBA World Cup will resume Sept. 14 in Las Vegas, where the Americans will face Uruguay.

That will be the first U.S. game in the second qualifying round for next year’s world championships in China.

Like the first round, the U.S. will continue being coached by Jeff Van Gundy and will have a roster made up primarily of G League players. The Americans went 5-1 in the first round.

The U.S. and Uruguay are among 12 teams from the Americas zone vying for seven World Cup spots. The others are Argentina, Panama, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Chile, Canada, the Dominican Republic and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The United States is a heavy favorite to qualify, then will send NBA players to China for the World Championships (there is a workout for some of those players coming up in Las Vegas in a week).

Second-round qualifying ends in late February. The World Cup begins in August 2019.

Mavericks sign second-round pick Jalen Brunson to first-rounder style contract

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Dallas is excited about the potential of Jalen Brunson.

The point guard who led Villanova to a national championship last April fell to the 33rd pick in the draft last June, high in the second round, and Dallas traded up a spot to get him from Atlanta. The Mavericks were ecstatic, and to the surprise of nobody they have reached terms on a contract with him.

What is a bit of a surprise is the Mavericks gave him a first-rounder style contract — four years with some guaranteed money for the first three of them — reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

At Summer League in Las Vegas Brunson showed the qualities that Dallas liked in him — he’s a high IQ player with polish, and he’s a pass-first floor general — but his weaknesses were also exposed. He has to shoot better (23 percent in Summer League) and his defense needs to improve.

Both of those can happen, Summer League is more of a chance for teams to benchmark players than make decisions about them. Brunson reportedly has a great work ethic, he can figure the NBA game out.

Dallas is betting that he will.

Kemba Walker: “As far as seeing me in New York, I doubt it”

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Kemba Walker is an All-Star level point guard who is heading into a contract season — he is a free agent in 2019. Walker is also a New York native, born in the Bronx he attended Rice High School in Harlem.

Combine all that with the fact both the Knicks and Nets will have enough cap space for a max (or more than one max) contract next summer, and you’ve got yourself a rumor.

One Walker shot down talking to Michael Scotto of The Athletic.

“As far as seeing me in New York, I doubt it,” Walker replied. “I’m a Hornet, and I’m planning on being a Hornet for a long time, so, yeah, I’m not sure about that (New York).”

Walker has said many times he wants to stay in Charlotte (providing they pay the market rate and are trying to compete).

That said, this is the NBA, so never say never.

A lot of NBA teams have been poised, waiting to see if new Hornets’ GM Mitch Kupchak — with the approval of Michael Jordan — decided to go full rebuild and trade Walker this summer. He has not, talking only about keeping this squad together. The Hornets are a solid team with Walker and Nicolas Batum leading the way, one that could make the playoffs in the East if things break right for new coach James Borrego. However, they will not be anywhere near contenders and if things don’t fall their way they may well miss the playoffs next season. Again. The Hornets also are not a bad team, meaning they are not going to get a high pick (without some lottery luck). They are stuck in the NBA’s middle ground, a place most GMs want to avoid.

Trading Walker could jump-start the rebuild in Charlotte, but the Hornets don’t seem to be going that direction. Yet. This summer they signed Tony Parker, Malik Monk looked good in Summer League, and they got Dwight Howard out of the locker room. They say they are a team poised to make a playoff push.

If that push falls apart early in Charlotte, watch and see if their plans change. And what that could mean for Walker. And the Knicks.

However, as of now, Walker wants to remain a Hornet, and they want to keep him. Which crowds New York out of the picture.

 

Report: Philadelphia tried to recruit Daryl Morey as new GM, was rebuffed

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The analytics movement is not dead in Philadelphia.

The Sixers are still searching for a new general manager to replace Bryan Colangelo (who had to resign in the wake of a Twitter scandal), and the rumors have always been about the big guns. David Griffin, the former Cleveland GM inexplicably let go by that franchise, is a name that kept coming up.

But the home of “The Process” wanted to jump back into the analytics waters and try to land the Rockets’ Dayrl Morey, the face of the NBA’s analytics movement. That was shot down, reports Marc Stein of the New York Times.

The Sixers are swinging for the fences right now — they met with LeBron James in free agency, they have tried to get in on the Kawhi Leonard trade sweepstakes, they wanted to meet with Paul George — and landing Morey fits in that mold. Philadelphia already has Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid in house, and feels they are on the verge of contention for years, but that they need one more piece. Morey is not that piece, but the guy who traded for James Harden and Chris Paul in Houston could get someone to come to Philly.

Morey is happy in Houston, however, and he’s staying put.

Instead, the Sixers search will continue. In the interim, coach Brett Brown is filling in a dual role (and doing a solid job, but with the recent run of struggles for teams that had a coach filling both positions it’s unlikely they keep this arrangement long term).