As David Kahn gears up for this year’s draft, he sounds more excited than ever about … last year’s draft.
Kahn had dinner in Paris earlier this month with Ricky Rubio’s parents and a representative of his agent, then watched the Wolves’ top pick from last June lead his team to the European championship. Minnesota’s basketball boss sounded nothing like a man looking to trade Rubio’s rights.
“He was arguably the best player on the floor” in the semifinals, Kahn said. “There’s been a lot of talk over the last couple of years about his outside shot. He stepped up and shot a couple of threes that really looked natural. He’s really worked on that, and you can see it.”
Rubio remains the property of Regal Barcelona and will for another year or two, so Kahn limited his contact to a couple of text messages while he was in Paris, in order not to distract Rubio from the Euro Final Four. But he sounded delighted by the progress the point guard has made, and optimistic that he will someday suit up in Target Center.
“This kid’s different. You just don’t accomplish what this kid’s accomplished at this age without being really special,” Kahn said. “He’s 19. The notion of him wasting away over there is far-fetched. He’s actually getting better over there, on somebody else’s dime.”
Chad Ford theorized on espn.com Monday that the Wolves would be reluctant to draft John Wall, should they win the No. 1 pick on Tuesday, because they “may not want to scare (Rubio) off any more than they already have.” He also said he had heard that the Wolves have indicated to Evan Turner that he would be their choice.
But Kahn, though he cautioned that Wall’s status as No. 1 “isn’t open and shut,” didn’t sound afraid to pick the point guard if he’s available, either. “It’s only problematic in that we may have to make some roster moves down the road. But I don’t see those as problems, I see them as opportunities,” he said. “Especially in a league that seems to be gravitating toward guard-oriented, I don’t see how we can get hurt” taking Wall.
Meanwhile, Kahn also met with the agent for Nikola Pekovic, and said the 6-foot-11 Montenegrin center “wants to come over.”
“We are not anywhere close to a deal. The next step is, I want to take Kurt (coach Kurt Rambis) to take a look at him, and in June, we need to plug him into our plans and figure out if his future is with us, or is it to wait a little longer, or is his future for us to trade,” Kahn said. Pekovic is a good low-post scorer who can play with his back to the basket, Kahn said.
Perhaps making that decision more complicated: Darko Milicic has also informed the Wolves that he wants to play in Minnesota next season. “He had a really enjoyable two months, he likes the way we play and he responded well to Kurt,” Kahn said of the free-agent center, who averaged 8.3 points in 24 games after being traded to Minnesota in February. “And he sees that even though we’re not winning yet, there are some pieces here to build around and other pieces to come.”