Kahn says team to consider trading Jefferson if Darko re-signed, Kahn calls Johnson better potential pro than Cousins, team confident in Webster and more
Team president David Kahn says that means now is the time for the team to consider trading Jefferson. Kahn says he will weigh his options regarding shipping Jefferson if the team is successful in re-signing center Darko Milicic.
Kahn says he will only move Jefferson if he gets a significant return from another team.
A day after Wolves management used Thursday night's draft to become a more athletic and open-court team, president of basketball operations David Kahn suggested that the 7-foot center from Serbia Montenegro could be the difference in whether Al Jefferson returns to the Wolves next season.
Kahn acknowledged Friday that he is looking into trading Jefferson, the team's leading scorer last season, if Milicic, an unrestricted free agent, is re-signed.
"It's the right time finally for us to explore this," Kahn said of a possible Jefferson trade. "I've met with Al and discussed this. If Darko comes back, there could be a need to create some playing time. We really need to get our front line settled."
Minny GM David Kahn is on the air with us right on admitting that the Wolves made "outbound" calls about moving Al Jefferson.
But Johnson is the only one of the group who has the name recognition that the team can market, so the Wolves sorely need to have made the right move in taking the soon-to-be 23-year-old over Kentucky center DeMarcus Cousins.
"Over time, that's where every guy wants to be," said Johnson, who showed off a bright smile and quick sense of humor during his introductory news conference on Friday. "I'm just trying to come in and impact the team and help them win. If that role jumps on me, it jumps on me, but other than that I'm just trying to help the team move in the right direction."
From Kevin Arnovitz/TrueHoop: The TrueHoop Dossier: Wesley Johnson
From Esquire's Style Blog: NBA Draft Pick of the Day: Wesley Johnson
True, there were perhaps one too many purple shirt/purple tie combos, but when you have someone like the Timberwolves's number-four draft pick Wesley Johnson (of Syracuse University) in the mix, most others' sins can be forgiven. Johnson took it there, with the confidence of a man twice his age: Tartan Pants? Double-breasted club blazer? Contrast-collar yellow shirt? What?! It all adds up to a young man who killed it on the biggest night of his life so far. Wesley, you will look back on your choice of clothes this day proudly. And so will we. Congratulations.
Bjelica would like to come to the NBA this year, but the Wolves have yet to make a decision about the 22-year-old Serbian forward who many compare to Toni Kukoc. "He knows he's not strong enough yet," Kahn said. Brazilian center Paulao Prestes, taken with the 45th pick, will remain in Spain for at least another season.
• Kahn said he is aware that many critics believe he should have drafted Kentucky center DeMarcus Cousins instead of Johnson. "I'm not a hermit. I know there are some people out there who think he's a rare talent in a big kid," Kahn said. It wasn't a case of drafting for need over talent, either, he insisted, but that the Wolves simply rated Johnson as the better potential pro.
For them, the point of the trade was to gain some cap relief by trading Ryan Gomes, who was due a buyout payment if he stayed on the roster after next Wednesday. Minnesota also wanted Webster, who will now compete for playing time with talented Wesley Johnson, team's pick at No. 4 last night.
"He has been in the league a long time and he's only 23," Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn said of Webster, who is the same age as Johnson. "With him and Wes we got a rare combination of two players with almost freaky athleticism who can really shoot it from three."
Kahn said one of the reasons Gomes was moved was to free up salary cap room. Kahn said Gomes was due a buyout payment if he remained on the roster past June 30, a payment that would have reduced the Wolves' salary cap room for free-agency pursuits after July 1. Kahn declined to reveal the figure, but Gomes was due $4.235 million next season.
"We were candid with Ryan after the season that we probably would make a move with him," Kahn said. "We had been talking a lot the past two weeks about Webster. This gave us a chance to add a young veteran."
Webster will earn $4.8 million next season, making him, for the moment, the Wolves' second-highest-paid player after Al Jefferson. Webster is owed $5.25 million for 2011-12, with a team option for one more year. Babbitt is guaranteed only $2.84 million over two years, and Gomes' buyout, which the Wolves had planned to exercise and the Blazers are expected to trigger as well, costs $3 million over three years. So the Wolves are backing up their opinion of Webster with more than $4 million in additional salary.
That's the price you pay for talent, Kahn said, and the Wolves are confident Webster, who has averaged 8.5 points and 3.8 rebounds over his career, has plenty of it. He may be only a 40.7 percent shooter from the field, below average for a shooting guard, but he is a 37.2 percent from three-point range, which is better than any current Wolves player except Wayne Ellington.
Kahn said he had discussions with Miami about trading Gomes' contract -- which calls for him to be paid nearly $3 million over the next three years if the team doesn't exercise an option by Wednesday -- for Michael Beasley in what would have been a salary dumping move to completely clear their roster to sign LeBron, DWade and Bosh. The Heat apparently were unwilling to have about $1 million due Gomes next season on their cap in return for trading away the No. 2 overall pick from the 2008 draft.
"In somes cases, even small amounts of money, teams literally don't want to cover the number," Kahn said. "Some teams are moving things left and right to create these enormous canyons of room. You'd think it's not that much, but you'd be surprised how these teams have reacted."
Kahn basically suggested the Blazers took Gomes' contract as a favor, the "cherry on top," even though the Blazers soon could turn around and deal that mostly non-guaranteed contract for an asset.
From Howlin' T-Wolf: What Happens Next?
Prokhorov is expected to fly to Akron – perhaps as early as July 1 – and here’s an idea for him: He might want to sign his GM, Rod Thorn, to a contract, because some peers believe that without a contract soon the Nets top executive could walk away and retire. No one ran a smarter, shrewder draft campaign than Thorn, who turned insufferable Minnesota GM David Kahn into a basket case over the Nets threatening to draft Wesley Johnson.
From Sekou Smith/NBA.com:
Make sure you mark down this day, because it’s not often we agree with Minnesota Timberwolves general manager David Kahn here at the hideout.
But after a peculiar draft night where there seemed to be twice as many head-scratching trades and maneuvers as there were actual draft picks, Kahn was on the money when he described this time before the free agent frenzy of 2010.
"I’ve never seen the league like this," he said. "The league is a weird place right now, as you saw all week. I’ve never seen so many teams literally pitching players off the side, doing everything to clear room. There’s a frenzy."