Shuffling the deck

Reading through fan posts and comments the last couple months I've come across this theme an awful lot of times.  The argument made is roughly that Kahn has not really added talent to the team, but rather just shuffled the deck and replaced players with other players with similar production .  Beasley was added, but Jefferson was jettisoned.  Webster was added, but Gomes was a player of similar production.  Flynn hasn't added anything.  Johnson is a too early to call.  Can't really rate Rubio honestly before he plays in the NBA.

We are left with a couple arguments

1) We were a two player team with crappy role players (Jefferson+Love) that has turned into a two player team with crappy role players (Love+Beasley)  And after spending good lottery picks 5+6 in 2009 and 4 in 2010 we can not be certain we've added another meaningful player.  Hope is there yet, but it's not certain Rubio will succeed, Johnson will be a plus level player or Flynn will prove to be an NBA talent at all post injury.

On the other side we have

2) Kahn managed to turn two expiring contracts into a #5 pick in 2009 and lucked into Rubio falling to 5.  Any judgment on this is premature, but Kahn should get credit for making this happen.  Love and Jefferson would never have worked.  Love and Beasley just might give it time.  Also Kahn took Beasley for 2 second rounders when NJ and TOR passed.  He deserves credit for this move.  Wes Johnson is a rookie and he still might be a special player.  Jonny is coming back from and injury and not the same player, but yeah this looks like a bust at the 6.  Kahn signed Darko and Pekovic.  Sure they're not great yet, but it's the highest upside center tandem we've had in quite a while.  Also we have cap-space and flexibility and we are better even if the record doesn't reflect it.

I believe there is a reasonable way of judging Kahn in the near future where we can bridge the gap between these two sides to a degree ...after the jump

Windows of opportunity are closing.  Love and Beasley will need to be extended and our cap flexibility will be diminished if not eliminated.  Kahn has come out and said that the roster is mostly complete.  He's been extremely honest (too a fault as in naming his draft pick prior to the draft) so I would take him at his word that the roster is mostly complete.  That said our cap space remains for the time being.

I propose that how we judge Kahn's performance be tied directly to whether or not he uses that cap-space prior to the Love Beasley extensions.  And that the only acceptable outcome would for the Wolves to add meaningful player (as in could be plugged into the starting lineup of a playoff team today) prior to extending Love and Beasley.

I can hear some apologists thinking that bar is set too high here, but give it a minute.  We didn't trade Jefferson for Beasley.  We traded Jefferson for cap-space and two first rounders and then lucked into Beasley.  Had we not lucked into Beasley we'd be looking as 1 meaningful player and cap space.  We'd demand something be done to bring in another meaningful player.  Jefferson for nothing is an epic failure.  Jefferson for another meaningful player is the minimum acceptable return and where the bar should still be.  Beasley was a gift, but we still have over $5 million in expiring contracts and $11 in raw cap-space.  In other words, we still have room for a Jefferson level contract.  We have room for another meaningful player.

Will Kahn pull this off?  That's highly debatable, but the truth of the matter is that with the cap space, expiring contracts, future draft picks, two meaningful players already on the roster and rights to Rubio Wolves fans should expect to see 3 meaningful players plus Rubio when our cap space runs out at a minimum.

Not saying that will be easy, but we can't ignore the assets he had.  Two meaningful players, two years, lottery picks 6 and 4 and a whole bunch of non lottery first rounders.  Or the opportunities he's made/been gifted with (I can't really say which is true) as in Beasley for 2 second rounders and #5 pick for two expiring contracts.

The status quo is not acceptable.  Shuffling the deck to lower cost younger players is fine.  Burning assets like draft picks and meaningful players without a meaningful return is not.  As it stands trading Jefferson for nothing is an epic failure, but it's not yet complete.  If nothing meaningful happens with the cap-space we should all realize Kahn is a failure.  If the cap-space is used on a meaningful player and we retain Rubio's rights we should agree Kahn is passable.  Once this is decided I think it's fair to explore his drafting, talent evaluation etc to death.


What say you?

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