It’s official: David Kahn let go as Minnesota GM; Flip Saunders to step in

27 Comments

It’s not a surprise. We told you it was coming. But it is still the end of an era we all enjoyed, even if we enjoyed mocking most of the time.

David Kahn has been let go as the general manager of the Minnesota Timberwolves the team has confirmed, something first reported by the Associated Press and Adrian Wojnaroski of Yahoo Sports).

Long-time NBA coach Flip Saunders will step in as the new GM, although those negotiations are not final.

There are a few things going on here. One is that Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor is looking to sell the Timberwolves, but in a way where someone would come in as a minority owner for a few years then eventually take control of the organization. Saunders had fronted one such group (he was the basketball guy, not the money guy) and there seems to be something to that.

This also comes back to Kevin Love — in a couple of years he can opt out of his deal. The Timberwolves want to both win and keep him (they need to win to  keep him). They need a GM who has and can build on a better relationship to keep their star player, otherwise Minnesota is in the awkward a position of having to trade him before he bolts.

Of course, there is no shortage of GM blunders by Kahn that could have led to him being relieved of his duties, most of them on draft night. This is a team that had a string of top 5 picks but has yet to make the playoffs (to be fair, injuries did in any chance of that this season).

Remember the year Kahn had the No. 5 and No. 6 picks and took Ricky Rubio first then followed it up with Jonny Flynn? He left Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings, DeMar DeRozan and Jrue Holiday on the board with that pick (Flynn played last season in Australia). Kahn had the No. 4 pick in 2010 and took Wesley Johnson (instead of DeMarcus Cousins or Greg Monroe). He had the No. 2 pick in 2011 and took Derrick Williams, who hasn’t lived up to that status.

It wasn’t all blunders. Kahn drafted Rubio and hired Rick Adelman. He put together what would have been a solid team this season save for the injuries.

Minnesota has the potential to be very good in the next couple years, but there were questions about whether Kahn could keep that together. So Minnesota has gone another direction.

In remembrance of this day, I feel I need to channel James T. Kirk one last time: KAAAAAAAHHHHHHNNNNNN!

LeBron likes Instagram of Kyrie Irving in Lakers jersey, Internet goes berserk

Getty Images
1 Comment

The Lakers landing Kyrie Irving in free agency this summer might be their best realistic option. It’s far, far from a lock — the Knicks, and yes Celtics, will make their pitch, too — but reuniting the pair that won a title in Cleveland is on the Lakers’ radar. (Insert your own, “you know who should coach this team” Tyronn Lue joke here.)

Fueling the speculation, LeBron James and Irving were seen hanging out together at a club in Los Angeles recently. Then Friday, this happened: Cuffthelegend posted this on Instagram and LeBron liked it.

View this post on Instagram

I like how this feels

A post shared by Savage Season 365 (@cuffsthelegend) on

(For the record, Cuffthelegend gets some stuff right, he’s not a guy who posts stuff out of nowhere.)

Of course, NBA Twitter and the web responded to this in its usual measured, thoughtful way. Some Lakers fans think the deal is done, others mock the idea altogether.

Two thoughts on Irving and the Lakers:

• Multiple reports say Irving is open to it. Irving also has a strong relationship with Kevin Durant, and Boston still plans to trade for Anthony Davis and then try to re-sign Irving (even if Boston fans are done with Kyrie). The only person who knows which way Irving is leaning right now is Irving, and there’s a good chance he changes his mind in the next five weeks anyway.

• If the Lakers are going to land a star free agent this summer, it will be because LeBron was an active recruiter. These elite players have options, and the Laker front office is not inspiring confidence of late, it will be on LeBron to win guys over.

 

Jeremy Lin: Milwaukee security guard asked for my pass to Raptors team bus

Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
4 Comments

Jeremy Lin has discussed people not believing he plays in the NBA.

It apparently still happens.

Lin, whose Raptors are playing the Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals, via Bill Michaels Sports Talk Network:

After Game 2 in Milwaukee, I was trying to get to the team bus and one of the dudes in the Milwaukee arena just screams at me. He’s like, “Where do you think you’re going?!” And I’m like, “Uh, I’m trying to get to the team bus.” He’s like, “What?! Where’s your pass?” I was like, “I don’t have a pass. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t have a pass.”

This happens in a lot of arenas, so I just kind of go with the flow.

It’s a fine line. Lin shouldn’t be profiled as a non-athlete because he’s Asian-American. Arena staffers should keep everyone safe by stopping unauthorized people.

PBT Podcast: What’s next for Boston, Philadelphia, Denver? (And some playoff talk)

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Will Kyrie Irving stay in Boston? If not, what is Plan B?

Is Jimmy Butler back in Philadelphia next season? If he is will Tobias Harris be back?

What are the next steps to turn Denver into a contender?

I get into all of those things with the wise Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (and Celtics Blog, and Real GM), we break down those three teams recently turned out of the playoffs. We also start off talking about teams actually in the playoffs, particularly Toronto’s comeback in the Eastern Conference Finals, and how those teams can take advantage against the Warriors with Kevin Durant out.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

Nikola Jokic’s All-NBA first-team selection shows his meteoric rise

Steve Dykes/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Just four years ago, Nikola Jokic was a second-round pick still playing in the Adriatic League. Just three years ago, he was battling a struggling Jusuf Nurkic to be the Nuggets’ main center.

Yesterday, Jokic made the All-NBA first team.

Jokic has risen incredibly quickly. Before this season, he had never even been an All-Star.

That makes Jokic the first non-rookie in NBA history to make an All-NBA first team without a prior All-Star season (including ABA All-Stars).

The No. 41 pick in the 2014 draft, Jokic is just the fourth second-rounder to make an All-NBA first team since the NBA-ABA merger. The others: DeAndre Jordan, Marc Gasol and Marc Price.

For most players not immediately deemed to hold first-round talent, it takes a while to build stature in the NBA. Jokic made the All-NBA first team in just his fourth season. That’s way sooner than Gasol (seventh season), Price (seventh season) and Jordan (eighth season):

image

The Nuggets didn’t wait for this honor to make Jokic their franchise player. They gave him a near-max contract last summer, and by leading them into the second round of the playoffs, he triggered incentives to reach a max salary.

Denver has built a young supporting cast – mainly Jamal Murray and Gary Harris – to grow with Jokic. The Nuggets also signed veteran Paul Millsap, whose defense complements Jokic’s offensive-minded game.

So much is coming together so quickly for Denver, and Jokic’s honor is just the latest example.