Kahn to Wolves fans: sorry we're so terrible


                Photo by Davesag

If you're interested in seeing the Wolves win games, or even if you're just interested in watching competent, easy on the eyes basketball, these past few weeks have been yeoman's labor. And the prospect of another five months of the same are a supreme drag. David Kahn seems to know this.

Over the weekend, just after the Wolves lost by 12 to Dallas and just before they lost by 10 to the Gri z-- that makes 10 duds in a row, if you're counting -- the Wolves GM posted this open letter to the fans via the Star Stribune. In it, he says, essentially, "I know this really sucks; stay with us until it gets better." A few of the notable moments:

  • "Our record was to be expected--but it will not be accepted."
  • "We all recognized when we signed up for this mission that it takes a Herculean effort, from all corners, to turn around a franchise and make it championship-caliber."
  • "We cannot lose as we did at Golden State--without a fight."
  • "We obviously are not working hard enough yet.  We need to do more.  And we will."
Admitting that an awful record "was to be expected," admitting that his team went down without a fight--these things are not common talk for an NBA general manager. And perhaps I'm simply too credulous for the cynical world of pro sports, but I take Kahn at is word-- find it refreshing even.

I want to make two points about this. First, though some have said this sounds like a desperate move by a GM on the ropes, I genuinely believe that Kahn and Rambis fully expected before the season began that they would lose lots and lots of games. Particularly without Kevin Love and with a still hobbling Al Jefferson, and with an extremely young team just beginning to learn a new offense, how could they possibly have expected otherwise? Although I think its probably safe to say that they didn't bargain on losing to the Warriors by 41.

Second, other folks have looked at the losses, heard Kahn's and Rambis's admissions, eyed the coach's lineups and substitution patterns and ventured: this crew is tanking. The Wolves braintrust is fully aware that this team is never going to even approach the playoffs, this argument goes, so they're just making sure we get the best possible lottery position.

But there's a huge distinction between a focus on player development and, as Rambis put it, "education" (all too rare in this NBA) and actually coaching to lose, particularly this early in the season. Again, its quite possible that I'm being hopelessly naive, but I actually buy (and, for the most part, buy into) the stated logic here. If you really believe that Jonny Flynn is the next (first?) great Wolves point guard, then it makes sense to play him over the more polished Ramon Sessions, even if it results in a few fewer wins (whether Flynn will ever learn the natural playmaking skills that the young Sessions already possesses is another matter).

On the other hand, a little dose of this guy wouldn't hurt either: