Apologies for the delay, I spent every post-press conference moment of today traveling to Temecula, CA. After reading through the excellent comments in the initial reaction thread, I think you all saw and heard a lot of the same things I did. Hopefully, though, this brief, jet-lagged run-down can pull together some main points and a few specifics for us to ruminate over further.
Glen Taylor's opening statements outlined the hiring process and then moved to the rationale behind hiring David Kahn. He talked a bit about using the experience of hiring executives for his other businesses in this process, and even mentioned the use of an executive hiring firm. The candidate criteria Taylor highlighted were experience (specifically someone who'd served in the NBA as a GM or Assistant GM) and a successful background that included a strong mentor. Pretty standard stuff.
The Wolves contacted executives and coaches around the league to put together their initial candidate list and Taylor said he spoke with Commissioner Stern only as a reference for Kahn later in the process. I was surprised Taylor made it a point to mention that in the course of requesting permission from other teams to speak to potential candidates he received a delayed response from some of them. Taylor said it with a chuckle, but I can't imagine it will benefit his relationships with those owners. On the other hand, it seems a relatively insignificant statement in the grand scheme of things.
I found Kahn's statement interesting in a number of ways. I was definitely an opponent to hiring Kahn, and the situation he left in Fort Worth is still a big concern to me that wasn't addressed at all at the press conference. But he's on board now and hearing him today made me willing withhold full judgement until we see what he does in this pivotal offseason (feels like we've had a lot of those in the last few years, doesn't it?). Kahn's window to win over fans is extremely small, but he specifically acknowledged that fact today and repeatedly emphasized his desire to turn this team into a playoff team quickly with the obvious goal of being a championship team.
He was clearly on a mission to project confidence, authority (more than once emphasizing that whether McHale stays or goes is his call), knowledge, and his dedication to continually working toward a championship. He made no promises about keeping front office personnel, but mentioned multiple times that he will first listen to those who have been here before imposing his own vision due largely to the proximity of the draft. He also displayed a good sense of humor, even about not being the first choice (something Taylor coldly denied).
Kahn's experience as a journalist was very apparent today, especially alongside Taylor's defensive responses, as he had a clear message that he delivered comfortably.
I thought he responded very well to the concerns about his absence from the NBA, including two points: 1) his work in the D-League included a good deal of interaction with NBA front offices, including the sale of Tulsa's franchise to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and 2) he talked a lot about preparing to re-enter an NBA front office long before the Timberwolves' search was underway. He talked about the Wolves' season and included a few of his thoughts on a specific stretch of games. Either he did some very speedy and thorough research in the last few weeks, or he really did keep tabs on the Wolves' season.
I'm still not willing to overlook the issues Kahn left in Fort Worth, and that leaves me with a good deal of skepticism about how he will perform in his new position with the Wolves. But Kahn knew exactly what messages needed to be sent today and how to send them. He was confident, but open to criticism and other ideas, has a vision (although we have yet to see if he's got a plan), but recognized he'll make mistakes. WIthout having made any personnel moves yet, I'm actually more optimistic about having Kahn in charge today than I was yesterday. But I know that I'm only one of MANY Wolves fans who will not cut the new front office leader any slack if the team reverts to McHale-style team-building by plugging holes on a sinking ship. It's time for someone to refurbish the whole damn thing.
I'd be remiss if I didn't thank the team for inviting me. While the staff I've spoken with recognize that they've a long way to go in using new media to better engage fans, those staff members are working to figure out how to win back fans that feel beaten down after a dismal recent past. I hope for your and my own sake that they're up to the task.