Rebuilding Wolves' credibility is a dirty job, so have no reservations about cleaning house

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 23, 2009 - 2:33 PM

Welcome to Minnesota, David Kahn. Here's some suggestions on how to actually turn the franchise you are taking over around.

Since David Kahn is unlikely to receive much good advice from within the confines of Target Center, he'll have to look elsewhere. Like here.

Kahn, the Timberwolves' new president of basketball operations, was introduced by the team on Friday, but only after a rambling introduction in which owner Glen Taylor tried to convince us that his search process had been efficient and had not resulted in job offers to any other candidates, a fascinating tale that some of his employees even believe.

Kahn possesses the advantage of laying fresh eyes on the Wolves' clown show. He possesses the disadvantage of sudden proximity to the delusional personalities who have run this franchise into the ground.

So, Mr. Kahn, before you experience the Target Center Mind Warp, we offer this advice:

1. Nod but don't listen

When Taylor tells you how to run the organization -- and he will, no matter what he's intimated so far -- treat him like one of those annoying relatives who tries to tell you how to run your career over Thanksgiving dinner, even though that guy hasn't been gainfully employed since WWII. Nod, smile, and ignore.

2. Clean house

Taylor probably expects you to keep some of his favorite family members and friends around. Get rid of as many as possible. They've helped create the perception within the organization that only bad luck has kept the Wolves out of the NBA Finals. Bring in as many people as you can from successful organizations who won't be blinded by the intra-office happy talk that helps the current occupants get through the day.

3. Hire Sam Mitchell

Mitchell is the perfect hire for this franchise. He evokes memories of the Wolves when they were at their best. He not only has head coaching experience, he was the NBA's coach of the year, and after he was fired, the team he was coaching, the Toronto Raptors, went south.

He has enough charm to lure fans and free agents, and enough backbone to hold players accountable.

4. Banish cHale

Even if you believe Kevin McHale has taken too much criticism, that he's made sensible deals the past few years, that he is capable of becoming an accomplished NBA coach, recognize that he is a symbol of Wolves futility and myopia. In sports, as in politics, symbols matter.

As long as McHale remains in the organization, he will maintain a symbiotic relationship with Taylor. As the new president, you don't want to spend every waking moment wondering what McHale is telling Taylor.

5. Keep Fred Hoiberg

Hoiberg probably isn't ready to be your primary personnel guru, but he has somehow remained popular and maintained his dignity and integrity while working for the Wolves, which is like keeping your shoes dung-free while working at the zoo.

6. Forget marketing

Has anyone noticed that "marketing'' -- that profession supposed to define a generation -- doesn't work? The Wolves market like crazy and have trouble selling $3 tickets.

Winning is all the marketing you need.

7. Don't overrate your skills

You're a power lawyer and a financial success, but you've been out of the NBA for seven years.

Don't assume you can find players by yourself. Hire the best personnel man you can find and let him do for you what the personnel department of the Spurs has done -- find second-round steals, and foreign sleepers, and sensible first-round picks.

8. Live up to your word

You talked Friday about "transparency'' with the public. This organization needs a point man with credibility. You need to become that guy.

Good luck, and fire away.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon on AM-1500 KSTP. jsouhan@startribune.com

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