Do me a favor and don't take this too seriously.
The Timberwolves determined early on in the scouting process that DeMarcus Cousins is at least the 3rd best player in this draft. The Wolves want Cousins more than they want Favors and possibly Turner. When they met at the combine in Chicago, Kahn and friends gave Cousins and his agent a guarantee that they will select him if he falls to the fourth pick.
There are two key assumptions that need to be true to make this story work:
Kahn values Cousins above Favors, and possibly above Turner. Kahn has not stated this to be the case. In fact he has stated the opposite. However, let's see if there is a case to be made for this idea.
-Cousins stated that he "got a very good vibe" from Minnesota in his Chicago interview, and said that he is confident they will draft him. Interview
-Kahn recognizes the need for a superstar. I personally think that Cousins has more potential to become a true superstar than anyone else in this draft, and I know I am not alone. It is possible that Kahn and/or respected members of his scouting staff agree with me.
-It seems clear that Kahn and friends recognize that the days of the Love + Jeff duo are behind us. This makes Cousins as much of a "need" pick as anyone else.
-Kahn recognizes the importance of a true center like Cousins... Just read this Kahn quote about Dexter Pittman.
He's 6' 11", he's a center, and in this league there's a dearth of centers, especially those that have that kind of size and physicality about them. He's very intriguing
There are other teams that view Cousins as one of the top 2 talents in this draft, and thus diversionary tactics are necessary.
-Cousins is a stats darling, and with many of the successful teams in the league going in that direction, there are bound to be some teams that value Cousins very highly and would be interested in moving up to snag him at the 2 or 3. There has been a lot of chatter about this being the case. Could you imagine what he would do for the Thunder... makes me shudder.
-Cousins is working out for Philly this Friday and New Jersey on the 21st. Cousins makes a lot of sense in Philly, and a bit less in NJ, but smart teams know not to draft for need in the early lottery anyway. It would not be that surprising if either or both of these teams valued Cousins as the best available talent.
Reinterpreting recent interactions with the media:
While it is completely contrary to the actual words spoken over the last few weeks, I think when we look into the underlying strategy, the behavior of both the Wolves' camp and Cousins' camp is actually very consistent with this theory.
The Wolves Camp:
Kahn has seemed to "let it slip" to everyone and their grandmother that he will draft any player except Cousins with the fourth pick. One explanation for this behavior is ignorance, but Kahn has consistently struck me as a slippery enough fella to know better. Even if Kahn really didn't like Cousins I feel like he would recognize the value and play his cards accordingly.
Strategically speaking, the only way it makes sense for Kahn to let it leak that he is "all in" on Wes at 4 is if he really wants Cousins and doesn't want another team to steal him at the 2 or 3. By advertising a disinterest in Cousins, Kahn leads other teams interested in Cousins to (a) move up to Sacto's pick rather than Philly's or NJ's in order to satisfy their Cousins crush at a cheaper price (thus leaving Cousins for us at 4). Or if the Nets or 76ers secretly covet Cousins, they will take Turner/Favors and hold him ransom to Kahn for Cousins + (thus leaving Cousins for us at 4).
The Cousins Camp:
Here is the most recent statement about the Cousins camp's Wolves relations:
In fact, Cousins won't even come in to work out with the team, his agent, John Greig, told me. Greig, along with a league source, disputes a report that Cousins wasn't invited to Minnesota. Greig said he believes Minnesota is already locked into Johnson at No. 4 and wants to keep Cousins focused on places he could realistically go.
This is a very strange angle for an agent to take. The difference between the 4 and the 5/6 could be millions of dollars. You don't just decide not to try to move up because you don't think the higher team has interest. How can you interpret "...to keep Cousins focused on places he could realistically go" and anything but garbage talk? What does Cousins level of focus on teams drafting him change?? I do not buy the agents story at all. It could be that Cousin's doesn't like Minnesota, that the agent doesn't think the Wolves are a functional franchise, or maybe that Minny didn't invite Cousins and his agent is lying (although Kahn also said they are trying to bring him in so that doesn't make sense). The one thing I am confident in is that the agent's stated reasoning is BS.
However it does make sense for Cousins' agent to advise him to opt out of a Minnesota workout if he already has a commitment from them. Given what I just discussed about Kahn above, it would also make sense that if such a commitment was made, Kahn would have asked that Cousins and his agent keep very quiet about said deal. In this case, the tale about not working out for Minnesota because of Kahn's Wes Johnson infatuation makes perfect sense. It is exactly the story that Kahn would have asked him to tell.
What do you think? BS or complete BS? Please feel free to either add to or poke holes in this story.