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.

James Ennis opting out of 76ers contract

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James Ennis was the 76ers’ lone reliably good backup this postseason.

He’s hoping to parlay that success into a salary above $1,845,301 next season.

Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

James Ennis will decline his player option and become a free agent, his agent, Scott Nichols from Rize Management, confirmed Monday morning.

Teams can’t get enough versatile forwards like Ennis. He can defend multiple positions and, sometimes, shoot adequately from outside. The 28-year-old should remain a helpful player.

With his Non-Bird Rights, Philadelphia can offer him a starting salary up to 120% of his minimum salary. That projects to be about $2.3 million. Paying Ennis more would require using another exception (like the mid-level) or cap space.

Of course, Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris are the main priorities in free agency. But the 76ers sacrificed a lot of depth to acquire those two. Philadelphia must build back up its roster.

So, whether or not they re-sign Ennis, the 76ers should keep pursuing more capable reserves.

Rob Pelinka: Magic Johnson saying I betrayed him ‘simply not true’

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Frank Vogel – at was ostensibly his own introductory press conference – sat quietly while Lakers general manager Pelinka fielded six straight questions.

Finally, at Pelinka’s urging, Vogel chimed in.

“What I’d like to add, quite frankly, is the perception of our organization is very far from the reality,” Vogel said, “from my experience coming in here, of just the thoroughness of the work, the collaboration of how things are being done with the decision-making.”

Vogel has worked one week for the Lakers. His claims of stability carry far less weight than the description Magic Johnson – who ran the front office for two years before stunningly resigning last month – gave in an explosive interview earlier in the day.

Johnson said Pelinka betrayed him. Johnson said business-side executive Tim Harris interfered in basketball operations. Johnson said mid-level employees Joey Buss and Jesse Buss thought they should be general manager or president.

And Johnson said Lakers owner Jeanie Buss enabled this toxic environment.

Pelinka stressed how much he enjoyed working with Johnson. Pelinka said he had spoken positively with Johnson several times in the last month. So, Pelinka called Johnson’s characterizations “saddening and disheartening.”

“They’re just simply not true,” Pelinka said. “I stand beside him. I stand with him as a colleague and a partner. I’ve always supported everything he’s done and will continue to.”

Pelinka is fighting an uphill battle on his reputation. Johnson remains so popular because of his greatness as a player and endearing personality.

Johnson effectively admitted today to being an absentee executive. He even contradicted his own tweet:

But most still view Johnson as more credible than Pelinka.

Really, this whole saga was sad for Frank, who was clearly excited about this opportunity after failing with the Magic. He was often a bystander at his own press conference.

Ultimately, it won’t matter Johnson-Pelinka drama upstaged Frank. He still takes over a team with LeBron James. a good amount of young talent, the No. 4 pick and max cap space. Vogel can succeed in this job.

If he does, everyone will come around. Pelinka was right about one thing: Winning will solve most of the Lakers’ issues.

But it’ll be harder for them to win because of their issues.

Frank can do his part by coaching well and, as he said he was up for, instilling energy and cohesion around him.

He can’t simply say the Lakers have their act together and expect us to believe him. Neither can Pelinka. And Johnson is obviously saying the opposite.

The next big question: How will they pitch free agents and stop these problems from spiraling even further?

Magic Johnson: Former Pelicans GM Dell Demps leaked Anthony Davis trade-talk details

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The Pelicans reportedly blame the Lakers for details of Anthony Davis trade negotiations leaking.

Former Lakers president Magic Johnson blames former Pelicans general manager Dell Demps.

Johnson on ESPN:

I told Dell Demps, “Let’s just do it in private. What we offer, let’s keep it between us.” Well, Dell didn’t do that. So, that’s how it got out.”

The Lakers have intriguing assets – Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, the No. 4 pick, all their own future first-round picks. Los Angeles will likely try again to land Davis.

Johnson and Demps are out. So, maybe these sour grapes don’t matter.

But enough people remain in each organization – including Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, whom Johnson blasted today – from those winter trade talks. Whether or not there’s an edict in New Orleans forbidding new lead executive David Griffin from sending Davis to the Lakers, there’s clearly mistrust between these franchises. That makes it harder to reach a deal.

Lakers haven for failed coaches

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In the last two decades, 16 teams changed coaches, gave a majority of their minutes to returning players the following season and won 15 more games than the year prior (or equivalent in lockout-shortened season).

Only one of those 16 deposed coaches has gotten another non-interim NBA head-coaching job.

The Lakers will introduce him today.

His lead assistant is also one of the 16. Another member of the 16 was instrumental in hiring them.

Frank Vogel, Jason Kidd and Kurt Rambis make quite a trio.

The Lakers’ new head coach, Vogel is only one year removed from guiding Orlando to a 25-57 record. The Magic’s roster seemed to be the main culprit when they fired him, but Steve Clifford led a similar roster to a 42-40 record. That certainly didn’t reflect well on Vogel.

Ditto how the Bucks responded to Kidd’s departure. After going 44-38 and losing in the first round last season, Milwaukee ascended to 60-22 and is leading the Eastern Conference finals this season under Mike Budenholzer. Yet, Kidd – who’ll assist Vogel – was clearly a priority for the Lakers.

In 2011, the Timberwolves finished 17-65 and fired Rambis. Minnesota went 26-40 the following year under Rick Adelman. After bouncing around other jobs, Rambis is now playing a leading role in Rob Pelinka’s front office.

Every team changes between seasons. Players come and go. Those who stay get older and develop. Injuries happen inconsistently. The NBA hardly runs controlled experiments on coaches.

But these situations don’t instill confidence in Vogel, Kidd and Rambis. That they’re all working together now is remarkable.

Vogel has the most prominent role. Fortunately for the Lakers, he’s also the one least likely to be defined by his fixed-after-he-left tenure. Before Orlando, Vogel had plenty of success with the Pacers.

Kidd also did some positive things with the Bucks. Rambis…

People can learn from their mistakes. Second chances are sometimes warranted.

But the Lakers have LeBron James, whose prime years are dwindling. They’re a prestigious franchise in a premier market. High-end coaches and executives are particularly important and attainable.

The Lakers have given power to this group – maybe for good reason, maybe not.

I hope they explain why today, though there are several other issues they’ll have to address, too.