Jim Souhan: Kahn's first moves are fine, if he's not done

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 26, 2009 - 12:33 AM

In his whirlwind remaking of the Wolves' lousy roster, David Kahn has created a team whose two best holdovers are power forwards, and whose two top draft picks are point guards.

David Kahn

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David Kahn either has ESP or ADD.

Someday we will view his selection of point guards on consecutive picks in his first draft as the Wolves' basketball boss as either innovation, genius or a really bad case of short-term memory loss.

In his whirlwind remaking of the Wolves' lousy roster, Kahn has created a team whose two best holdovers are power forwards, and whose two top draft picks are point guards.

That probably isn't going to work, but Kahn's hyperactivity has grabbed our attention and ensured that the Wolves' next losing season will be more interesting than their last.

Thursday night, Kahn proved he knew what he was doing when he traded the regrettable Mike Miller and the still-intriguing Randy Foye to Washington for the fifth pick and a few bags of chips.

That deal seemed to make sense only if Kahn had a way of moving up to take Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio. Instead, Kahn played it cool and watched Rubio fall to him. Credit Kahn with insight, and guts, on that one.

One pick later, just to keep us all confused as to the traditionally mysterious ways of the Wolves' draft room, Kahn chose Syracuse's Jonny Flynn.

Rubio's skills -- great ballhandling and passing and iffy shooting -- make him a pure point guard. Flynn's size -- he's listed near 6-feet, which means he could be riding a mount at Canterbury any day now -- makes him a pure point guard.

Kahn assures us the two will play together, in the manner of Dennis Johnson and Danny Ainge or Joe Dumars and Isiah Thomas. That concept, along with Flynn's toughness, is intriguing, but this draft will be defined by Rubio. He could be great. He could be a soft Euro who gets eaten up by stronger, fiercer players such as Tyreke Evans and Flynn.

I lean toward the former view. In a league that has outlawed handchecking, skilled guards -- and especially skilled guards with size -- can dominate. The key for Rubio will be working with a coach who can help him develop and teammates who can make use of his passing.

That's where this gets tricky. At this moment the Wolves' two cornerstone players -- Al Jefferson and Rubio -- might as well play different sports.

Jefferson needs room and time in the low post, and the Wolves didn't draft Rubio to stand outside, dump the ball in to Jefferson and get back on defense.

At the moment, Rubio is like a diamond-encrusted tie. It's nice to have one, it's flashy, it's expensive, but what do you wear with it?

Thursday night's ESPN broadcast had to be fascinating for Wolves fans, especially if you could block out Stuart Scott's knowledge-free babblings.

On the set, critiquing the Wolves' moves with a remarkable level of deference, was Mark Jackson, who might be the Wolves' next coach. After Kahn took Flynn, Jackson expressed no surprise and immediately started talking about the Wolves playing an up-tempo, pressing, running style. Almost as if he knew what was going to happen. Hmmm.

Jackson would be a good mentor for young point guards, but he shouldn't be this team's top choice for a head coach. As Jackson praised the Wolves, his broadcasting buddy Jeff Van Gundy -- of the Shouting Van Gundys -- said whoever coaches a rebuilding team such as the Wolves probably won't last more than a year and a half.

So maybe Jackson should lease rather than buy.

At this point, Jackson would almost make sense as Kahn's choice, because Kahn doesn't care about convention.

So far, he deserves high marks for most of his moves.

He gets A's for dumping Kevin McHale and Miller, pushing Glen Taylor to the background, making exactly the right trade to move into position to select Rubio, and making fans care about the Wolves again.

He gets incompletes for failing to quickly name a coach and for, yes, drafting two point guards for a team with plenty of other needs.

It's difficult to judge Kahn's roster or his moves, though. You get the sense he's not done yet. The next big word he inflicts upon us is likely to be "metamorphosis."

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

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