David Kahn should not be criticized for letting Kevin McHale go. He should have been blasted if he let him stay.
David Kahn comes off as arrogant. That's an improvement on the atmosphere surrounding the Timberwolves over the past half-decade, which was one part paranoia and two parts incompetence (PI²).
Kahn was named the team's president for basketball operations on May 22. He immediately saw for himself that the bumbling of this organization started at the top.
Owner Glen Taylor opened the news conference with 20 minutes of glaring paranoia. Most of his monologue was spent defending the search process rather than boosting Kahn as the right man to lead the Wolves from the abyss.
Kahn promised that day to give a full hearing to Kevin McHale as the first candidate to be the coach for the 2009-10 season. He did exactly that, meeting with McHale over dinner twice and in several shorter meetings.
Finally, on Tuesday night, Kahn told McHale that he wasn't going to bring him back as coach. Kevin Love, the oh-so-coy power forward, broke the news with a tweet early Wednesday morning.
Twelve hours later, Kahn made it official at a Target Center news conference. The new basketball boss could not have been more generous in his words for McHale -- or more vague in itemizing reasons why he didn't want him as coach.
The level of angst over this decision among the assembled media was comical, when you consider the blasts we would have aimed at Kahn if he had chosen to retain the gentleman most responsible for the Wolves' dreadful condition.
The defenders of McHale insist that his basketball savvy came to the fore as a coach.
Based on what -- that he encouraged his players to push the ball on offense and allowed them to wave at opponents on defense? All members of this team's fan base (aka Timberwolves Phone Booth) probably would agree that McHale was a better coach than Randy Wittman, and he was a better coach than he was a boss of basketball operations.
Impressive as those two items might be on McHale's résumé, Kahn is entitled to have a higher standard in selecting an NBA head coach.
Kahn would be advised to hire a teacher, for what he has inherited here is a team of both limited talent and understanding of how to play the NBA game. And the knowledge gap only will increase with the prospect that a 19-year-old -- Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Jennings -- could be the next point guard.
Would it be possible to get Jeff Van Gundy in here on a lucrative contract? Presumably, Kahn will find out.
After that, Kahn would do much better bringing in Avery Johnson, a man possessed by the game, than a once-popular Wolves figure such as Sam Mitchell.
McHale took it on himself to call players such as Al Jefferson and Love to tell them that he wouldn't be back. Both players expressed sadness over McHale's departure -- Love in his news-breaking tweet and Jefferson in an interview session.
Then again, if you were as disinterested on defense as Jefferson, and as futile at it as often as Love, you might favor a coach who didn't get too worked up over that half of the court.
McHale also talked to a pair of reporters early Wednesday: the Star Tribune's Jerry Zgoda and the Pioneer Press' Charley Walters.
Any lingering doubts for Kahn had to disappear when he saw Zgoda's reporting of McHale's quotes on startribune.com.
"The players had really been reaching out to me, saying, 'We really want you to coach; we think we can make a run,' " McHale said. "The players felt so strongly, that was a big part of it.''
This job needed a realist -- not some guy from Fantasyland ready to embrace the idea this was a nucleus ready to make a run.
You need three standouts to make any kind of a run and the Wolves are standing at one-half: Jefferson, on the offensive end.
As for Love, he has a talent for rebounding. Beyond that, what Love proved after Jefferson's injury was that he's relentless as a stats collector in garbage time.
Kahn said he was leaving Wednesday's news conference to go into lockdown for next week's draft. His first act should have been a tweet to the L.A. Clippers, asking if it might be possible to send them Love, the sixth pick and another first-rounder for No. 1 overall Blake Griffin.
Patrick Reusse can be heard 5:30-9 a.m. weekdays on AM-1500 KSTP. • email@example.com