Friday, May 3, 2013
The resolution of the Martell Webster dispute
By Henry Abbott
On Thursday I wrote about the Timberwolves severing ties with David Kahn, who is generally treated as an NBA laughingstock. My big point: OK, he made some mistakes. But if he's so bad at his job, how come so many other teams have worse rosters?
In 2010 Kahn said he wanted compensation from the Trail Blazers because they traded him Martell Webster with, he said, an improperly disclosed back injury. (Webster has since moved on to play for the Wizards.)
I called many sources to assess Kahn's chances of winning compensation for the Timberwolves. The people I called around the NBA were unanimous: Nobody thought Kahn had any chance. Only one person would let me quote him, and even then without a name. He pointed out that Webster's injury happened in front of a nation of NBA fans:
"We're all laughing about it. You can't watch the freaking playoffs? That was a pretty obvious incident, right on national TV."
So, what did happen with that Webster dispute?
These inter-team squabbles are not public. And yet this part March, there were reports that the matter had been "resolved amicably," although it has never been clear precisely how. Was Kahn's claim as out of line as it seemed initially?
Today, two sources directly involved in the talks tell me that in fact the dispute led to depositions in preparation for a hearing, and those depositions did not go well for the Blazers.
As a result, Portland agreed to pay Minnesota $1.5 million -- said to be one of the largest such agreements in league history -- to settle the matter before it reached the hearing stage.
The Trail Blazers declined to comment.
It's doubtful this little bit of vindication will tip the scales of public opinion in Kahn's favor, but in fairness: He was ridiculed for that in real time, but apparently time proved him right.