David Kahn thought he was done. Free. Released like a previously shackled dove into the Witless Protection Program.
Mr. Kahn will always be remembered for drafting Jonny Flynn instead of Steph Curry as Wolves general manager, but the statute of limitations has transformed him from active villain to awkward footnote.
Until now. Now Timberwolves fans have another good reason to fear reflecting on the franchise-deflating 2009 NBA draft.
Kahn not only chose Flynn over Curry. He also chose Ricky Rubio over Curry and DeMar DeRozan, as well as a handful of useful NBA regulars. Rubio has reached a point in his career where he is every bit as damaging, in a more active and impressive way, to the Timberwolves as Flynn.
At least Flynn was inept enough that the Wolves could quickly recognize their mistake and move on. Rubio still lingers, throwing the occasional gorgeous cross-court bounce pass to distract from his most disappointing season as a pro.
The most damaging aspect of Rubio's season is that he has done nothing to hint at a clear solution to the problems posed by his mediocre play.
By now, the Wolves had to be hoping they could trade him for value. They can't.
Or they had to hope that he would have provided the leadership that would elevate his young team. He hasn't.
Or they had to hope that he would have tutored Kris Dunn well enough that he would be ready to take over as the starting point guard. That has yet to occur.
Once again, Rubio is playing just well enough to please fans of the no-look pass but not well enough to help his don't-watch-yet franchise.
Rubio ranks 35th among qualifying NBA point guards in player efficiency rating (PER). Tyus Jones ranks 24th. Dunn ranks 59th.
Rubio ranks first in assist ratio. It is difficult to dominate one statistical category like that and build such a low PER. Rubio has accomplished this by regressing in many other areas.
He's averaging a career-low 7.0 points per game. And a career-low 7.1 assists per game. He is averaging 1.8 steals per game, the second-lowest rate of his career.
He is making 27.6 percent of his three-point attempts, the second-worst rate of his career, even though most defenses leave him open, begging him to shoot rather than pass to one of his talented young teammates.
Rubio knew that coming into a promising season with a new coach he could prove himself valuable either to the Timberwolves or other NBA teams. He has damaged his value in both cases.
If Dunn shows signs of readiness or the Wolves become ready to force-feed Dunn minutes at point guard to prepare for next season, Rubio should be traded. But he probably will not bring value.
His best role in the NBA probably would be as a backup point guard on a good team, in which case his passing and defensive skills might help win the occasional close game.
Even if you always found Rubio to be slightly overrated because he offered competence in what has frequently been an incompetent franchise, this season has been a disappointment.
He failed to develop his outside shot this summer, as in every previous summer during his career. Had he returned to Minnesota with the ability to make open three-point shots with regularity, the Wolves would be close to unguardable.
Instead, they are 11-24, tied for the fifth-worst record in the league, despite hiring an admired coach, having a healthy roster and featuring one of the most productive young trios in recent league history.
In 2009, Kahn drafted Flynn and traded Ty Lawson, both obvious mistakes that invited immediate criticism.
Rubio was supposed to be the safe pick, a player who had proved himself on the international stage at a young age and who could make players around him better.
Six years later, even those who believe in him are waiting for that to happen, long after the welcomed departures of Kahn and Flynn.