We like Bill Simmons. We respect and have enjoyed his work. We're in the process of reading his basketball opus, even if we're slightly alarmed at how many mistakes/typos are in it and only halfways placated by his somewhat admirable attempt to correct all of them. (Seriously, we know it's a huge, fact-based book. But do all books of this size and scope have this many errors? We're really curious).
We even hopped on board the Simmons-for-Wolves-GM bandwagon, partly because it made for fun reading and partly because, in the post-McHale-as-boss era, it seemed just crazy enough to work.
That said, ever since the Wolves went the more conventional route by hiring David Kahn for the job, we can't help but notice Simmons has been one of Kahn's biggest critics -- even though many others would say he is, at the very least, doing a credible job so far with a rebuilding project that most fans understand will take time.
From Simmons' running draft diary last June to this to random Tweets (wait, there's more!) Simmons has taken his shots. He's entitled to his opinion, and to a degree he has a point, but we also have to wonder how much of it is lingering sour grapes from a GM quest he would prefer to laugh off but possibly covets more than he lets on. Again, we're not saying he can't have legitimate issues with some of Kahn's moves (most of his critiques tend to center around Ricky Rubio). And we get that Simmons has made a living picking apart bad moves. We're just saying the trend is unmistakable, and it was particularly aggressive in Simmons' freshly posted NBA trade value column:
If you have the No. 5 and No. 6 picks in what turned out to be a quality draft, and you turn No. 5 into an asset that can't be realized for THREE YEARS because your No. 6 pick wasn't nearly as good as the No. 7 pick and also managed to drive your No. 5 pick to a foreign country, how is that anything other than an abject disaster? Bumbling GM David Kahn told Minnesota fans last week, "I don't expect to be a playoff team for at least two years." Great, just in time for the lockout and a new-wave NBA world with lower salaries and shorter contracts that's going to make Ricky say, "You know what? I think I'll just stay here for a couple more years and make three times as much money unless you trade me to a big-market team."
In fact, I thought about making Kahn the following bet: If Ricky Rubio plays even one minute for the Timberwolves, I will drive from Los Angeles to Minnesota for his first game while wearing a T-wolves jersey that says "KAHN" on the front and "No. 1" on the back. (It's an 1,835-mile trip. I looked it up.) But I don't want to root for the T-Wolves fans to lose Rubio; they've suffered enough. I hope I am wrong. I don't think I am.
Simmons knows plenty about hoops. No doubt about it. He might even be fortunate and have Kahn pegged as a bumbler. But at this point the evidence, in our eyes, just doesn't back up the assertion.