Thursday, May 21, 2009
Updated: May 22, 9:53 AM ET
Kahn to be named to post Friday
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Timberwolves hired former Indiana Pacers executive David Kahn to run their basketball operations, four days after being rejected by Portland assistant general manager Tom Penn.
The move was confirmed to The Associated Press on Thursday by a person with knowledge of the hire. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because an announcement wasn't planned until Friday.
Kahn fills the vacancy created when owner Glen Taylor moved vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale to the bench to replace fired coach Randy Wittman in December.
Taylor had said McHale was not a candidate to return to the front office, but the owner was hoping he would return as coach. McHale has been waiting to see who was hired before deciding on coaching. The person familiar with Kahn's hire said it wasn't clear what McHale will do.
Also unclear is the status of current Wolves GM Jim Stack and assistant GM Fred Hoiberg. Both were considered in-house candidates for the position and have continued to work on evaluating prospects for the NBA draft.
The Timberwolves have the No. 6 lottery pick and two more first-round selections through trades.
The picks, coupled with ample room under the salary cap and a young star in Al Jefferson, gives Kahn plenty to work with as the franchise continues a rebuilding plan that started almost two years ago with the trade of Kevin Garnett.
Kahn worked for the Pacers front office for nearly nine years. He was mostly on the business side, but he played a big role in helping the franchise move to Conseco Fieldhouse in 1999. He served on the NBA's competition committee and was considered an expert in the collective bargaining agreement.
Kahn left the Pacers in 2004 and has been out of the league since. He has been part owner of several NBA Developmental League franchises and also led a group that tried to bring Major League Baseball to Portland, Ore.
The Timberwolves thought they had their man when they offered the job to Penn last weekend. But Penn surprised the team by taking a promotion with the Blazers.
He was the third candidate to withdraw this month, joining San Antonio's Dennis Lindsey and former Miami Heat GM Randy Pfund. Kahn came at the recommendation of commissioner David Stern and interviewed for the position this month.
As the search dragged on, Timberwolves players were starting to wonder when it was going to happen. Rookie Kevin Love said last week that it was "a little weird, not knowing who we turn to next year to make the decisions."
Forward Mark Madsen was glad to finally have the matter settled.
"It comes at a timely moment with the draft coming up," Madsen said Thursday in a phone interview from Utah. "It's a great step for the direction of our franchise."
The hire comes with some concerns, though.
Kahn's Southwest Basketball LLC owned the Fort Worth Flyers and three other NBDL franchises. When the Flyers moved to Nevada, they left a trail of unpaid bills that resulted in several lawsuits.
Local investor Gary Walker filed a breach of contract lawsuit seeking more than $80,000, while the city of Fort Worth said it was owed $25,000 in back rent.
Walker lost his initial case against Southwest Basketball LLC and is planning to file an appeal.
"Unpaid bills and unfulfilled promises," Walker told The Associated Press. "It was kind of a bad deal."
A spokesman for the city of Fort Worth said the sides settled their lawsuit just before the case was set to go before a judge.
Local advertising firm Concussion helped launch an ad campaign for the team when it arrived in Fort Worth, and CEO Allan Wallach complained of slow payments for those services even a year after the contract expired.
In a story that appeared in the Forth Worth Business Press in 2007 after the Flyers announced plans to leave town, Wallach called Kahn's ownership group "typical carpetbaggers, they took advantage of a number of local businesses and flew the coop."
In an e-mail to The Associated Press on Thursday, Wallach said Concussion and Southwest Basketball LLC have settled the litigation to the company's satisfaction.
"I have no opinion of Mr. Kahn and have tried to erase the experience from my memory," Wallach wrote.
Kahn was unavailable for comment on the matters on Thursday. He will be introduced at a news conference on Friday.