Sorry part 2 is so late. It was a very busy week. Here are the thoughts on my visit with a couple of other team's FO folks last Sunday But rather than rehash stuff that we talk about here at CH all the time, I am going to try and focus in a little more depth on just a few thoughts.
The feeling is that Kahn has really cost himself a ton of credibility with his loose comments. Take Jonny Flynn. There is no trade market for Jonny right now. Some, obviously, because of Jonny’s play. But most because of signals and statements sent by Kahn. It is clear to the other teams that Jonny is not going to be tendered an extension and will be cut loose sooner than later. Why trade anything when you might get it for nothing? So, I asked, what approach do you use? Interesting enough, they thought Kahn should never talk about any players ever. Just the normal tripe answers that have become standard fare from some GM’s. I said that was not realistic and they agreed saying Kahn’s personality would not fit that type of GM response. So what? The more senior guy gave his response along these lines - Jonny is still recovering from his hip injury and will need most of this off season to get to 100%. Missing all of camp put him way behind on learning the offense and building chemistry with his new teammates. He is working extremely hard on both rebuilding his physical conditioning and his basketball skills. We expect him to be a key part of next season. I told him that seemed like a hot serving of BS. While not disagreeing, he insisted that the GM has to try and maintain player value, not tear it down with comments like he was a mistake pick. Kind of like Kahn does with Rubio. (By the way, they see NO EURO PLAYERS coming to the NBA this year due to the labor issues)
The candid statements may be true and be a good read on a blog – it just does you no good businesswise to say it. Throwing players (and coaches) under the bus is not something other GM appreciates. They wonder if that person will throw them under the bus (should they engage is some confidential discussions). So, they start avoiding him.
2nd issue. Kahn came in without the NBA connections that most GM’s have and his style (NY arrogant was how one put it) is a turn off. This is a huge issue as Kahn is not in the loop for informal information.
To explain this better, I am going to try an example. This is me trying to explain something, not anything these guys specifically said. Here goes: GM A is trying to make a trade for Player X on team X. His scouts have weighed in favorably. The amount GM A is giving up is acceptable. But GM A is still looking to make sure all stones are turned over. He calls his old friend, who is in the Front Office for team Z. FO team Z was with Team X for 4 years – part of the time player X was there. He asks FO –Z about Player X. Is he a good teammate in the locker room? Any undisclosed health issues? Things that are not always part of (or accurate even if they are part) of a scouting report.
I questioned this as it seemed to be almost a conflict of interest for FO-Z to talk to another team about a 3rd teams players. I was told that this type of “beer talk” goes on frequently. The NBA is pretty inbreed – it would be impossible for guys who played/worked together for years to never talk. It is a reasonably accepted practice. There is the occasional downside – a team getting drift of a conversation and torpedoing a trade. Or the occasional team that will never trade with another because of past transgressions. But the NBA is full of informal talk.
And Kahn is not in the loop. Kahn does not have these types of personal connections and these FO guys think that has hurt him tremendously. They believe that is why Kahn has been such a bottom feeder (ie being the 3rd team in deals and/or being the cap space team) rather than being in the forefront of the action.
Final comment – they saw the “United We Run” tagline and laughed their asses off. Said Kahn has assembled a relatively slow, relatively poor decision making roster of players, with a coach promoting the triangle offense. Perfect for a running strategy!
They are totally and completely perplexed by Rambis. Said Rambis is a very smart, NBA savvy guy. Did a really good job of technical coaching (I assume that means working with players on fundamental skills, etc.) with the Lakers. But they are baffled by the lack of progress – both in team and individual performance. Players should be getting better and they are not. Team play (measure by things like turnovers) should be getting better and they are not. They see the players playing hard, so they don’t think Rambis has lost their attention. But there is something really missing.
They really chalked it up to some coaches being the wrong fit for a team at a specific point in time. Says the NBA history is full of these types of situations. Good owners realize it and cut bait quickly. They are convinced Rambis is the wrong fit and Taylor should make a change this summer. (They also expect that Rambis would get another HC job sometime in the future)
I asked a bold question – which previous Twolves coach would be the best fit for today’s team. Without hesitation, one answered Dwane Casey. I explored this at some length after the game. The feeling was Casey would be able to fix the defensive end of the floor quickly and have a more flexible approach to offense that would make the team immediately more competitive (which gains confidence). Casey is a no nonsense guy who would have instilled professionalism in all aspects of the team. Saunders’ offense scheme would be too complex and they are no so sure Flip, at his age, is up to the demands of building over 4-5 years with young players. (Wow – do I see that in Washington) McHale is a phenomenal teacher, but not a good head coach. He believes strongly in the old school “let the players play” approach. That does not work with a younger team. Wittman is a very good, career assistant coach, but not a head coach. I will be interested to hear what the CH community thinks about this.
Like Rambis, there were some pretty positive feelings regarding Papa Glen coupled with a lot of wondering. It is very difficult for me to comment on some of this without giving up confidence – sorry in advance for being so vague. Safe to say they wonder what is going on in Papa Glen’s mind. 4 years after the KG trade, there is no discernable strategy to rebuild the team. What are the Twolves? A running team? A defensive team? A set offense team? What strategy are they pursuing? It is not clear at all. Glen has the reputation for being very decisive in supporting decisions of his FO. But the recent decisions are all over the map. Is Glen paying attention? Is he interested?
They have read and heard stories of Glen’s newfound frugalness and they find that hard to believe. Again, Glen HAD (my emphasis) the reputation of being quite generous.
They really think Glen needs to start over, pay what it takes to get an experienced GM, and leave them alone to build the club. Again, I asked them who. No definitive answer this time. Felt it was likely going to need to be someone with previous success that now needs to rebuild his reputation. Pritchard was the 1st name mentioned (That will never happen while Glen is alive). Interesting one – Donnie Walsh. They have heard the rumors and think Walsh really could be on his way out in NY.
It was a wonderful time and I hope to sometime have the chance in the future to do this again.