It's the middle of December. The Wolves are 8-16 and headed into a stretch of ball where they play 6 of 8 on the road against Western Conference teams. Out east Randy Foye has replaced an injured Gilbert Arenas and is scoring nearly 20 ppg while Mike Miller has magically returned to his three-point-shooting ways, leading the Wizards to a record of 5 games above .500. Ricky Rubio is still in Spain, playing for Real Madrid. Jonny Flynn is showing signs of being a dominant point guard but his game is being hampered by a devastating lack of outside shooters who can make the most of his accurate passes from drives into the lane. Mark Jackson's first two months on the job are making Vinny Del Negro look like Red Auerbach. Kevin McHale has quickly become one of the most entertaining color analysts on TNT.
OK, now that you're awake, let's take a step back from all of the good things that I think this blog and most of its readers think about the way David Kahn is handling the job so far and talk about what the team could be facing if worst comes to worst. At the end of the day, and after all of the changes--both big and small--David Kahn is putting together a squad that will be compared against What Could Have Been:
Coach: Kevin McHale
A happy locker room, two rotation players with a lot to prove in their contract years, a young point guard who can find the open man on the perimeter, no day-to-day Rubio news, a legit 7-foot prospect with the 18th pick...is this a team that could have won a lot more games? Is it a team that is built for the long run? Whatever your thoughts about Kahn's approach, isn't it true that had the status quo remained in place the Wolves would be looking at a far, far, far better 2009 product than what they might put out on the floor in mid-December under Kahn? Is there a line to be crossed here for even die-hard fans? I ask this now because unless we see some dramatic changes with the roster (Rubio coming over, an additional trade for a long-term piece) I think it is a question that will be asked often in December and January by the local sports media and perhaps even on a national level. Even if Kahn's plan is right (and, let's be honest: that's still a big if) doesn't it require a certain amount of losing before things like cap space and European assets can be turned into actual players on the roster. At what point does the status quo of last year become preferable to Kahn's plan? Does it at all?
What say you?
UPDATE: Just to be perfectly clear, I'm on board with what Kahn is doing. I think it is the best way forward but it is a way that is jammed packed with incomplete moves and large bets that cap space and stashed Euros can be used in a helpful way. This post is more of a Devil's Advocate argument for if and when the team is off to a terrible start and the casual fan/local media drumbeat starts banging for Kahn's head. I think Kahn underestimates how quickly this will happen if nothing else changes. It could get ugly and he will be hard pressed to make the case that his approach is working. It requires patience from a fan base that has already had more than enough of that sort of thing over the past 5-6 years.