Notebook: Wolves 'well-positioned' for free agency, may not be active
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MINNEAPOLIS -- David Kahn said on Thursday he believes the Minnesota Timberwolves are "well-positioned" heading into a shortened NBA free agency period that still does not have a start date.
But in a roughly 20-minute session with reporters in the bowels of Target Center, the Wolves' president of basketball operations made clear he doesn't expect the team to be very active, considering they currently have 13 players under contract.
"As I've said pretty consistently, I like a lot of players on this team a lot and am very excited to see them have the opportunity to develop under (coach) Rick (Adelman) and his staff," Kahn said. "That doesn't mean we may not do some pruning and some tweaking between now and the start of the season, or even after the start of the season."
Kahn said the Wolves will explore every available option to them but he wants to give plenty of time for Adelman -- who is expected in town this weekend -- to work with the young players before doing anything drastic to nucleus he has spent so much time building and piecing together.
"We won't be as active, in all likelihood, as many other teams will be. You can't have it both ways," Kahn said. "I think Rick and I have talked a lot about this -- he is very excited to see what he has. It will be important to allow him and his staff long period of time to really familiarize himself with our roster."
While stacked with potential, though, the Wolves still have few players on the roster old enough to rent a car in the state they play in and lack a solid veteran -- something Kahn routinely harped on last season, when the Wolves finished with the worst record in the league at 17-65.
Kahn chose his words carefully when discussing adding a veteran, not wanting to send a message to any of the 13-under contract players their spot may be in jeopardy.
"We will need to examine (the addition of a veteran)," Kahn said, "because I do think it's a priority."
Asked if he would specifically target a veteran Adelman has coached in the past, Kahn was quick to point out that covers a lot of players, seeing as Adelman has coached 1,561 games for four different teams in his career.
"What I am trying to say is yes, but that is a pretty wide net," Kahn said. "But I think that is the case with any coach. That is not specific to us by any means."
In a nutshell, Kahn would like to add a veteran piece but doesn't want to do so at the expense of the young nucleus he worked so hard to build -- at least before Adelman gets a chance to work with them.
One of the few pieces of news to come out of Target Center during the lockout was the mutual agreement to part ways with assistant general manager Tony Ronzone in September after 16 months.
Ronzone was seen as a highly-touted international scout and was Kahn's right-hand man for the 2010 and 2011 drafts.
Kahn said the front office is thinner without Ronzone but that's by design. One aspect Kahn said they "added some muscle" to in their scouting department was statistical analysis.
Kahn said he believes they have always been on-par with the rest of the league in analyzing statistics but believes the changes will "put us a little ahead of the curve."
The man in charge of that department will be Adelman's son, R.J. Adelman, who has worked underneath his father as an assistant coach in Houston and also assisted in the team's advanced scouting department.
"R.J. Adelman is going to serve a role as, not only helping on the personnel side, but also will kind of manage all of our game preparations and then work directly with our coaching staff on that," Kahn said.
There will be at least three people reporting directly to R.J. Adelman in the new front office regime, including the video staff, the advanced scout and one other person in the staff whom Kahn didn't name.
"I think that having a unit of game preparation/player personnel preparation and a deeper analytical approach, but also not so analytic that it won't include the intuition part of the business as well and the character checks and all the other stuff that comes along with scouting, but I think that will help us," Kahn said.
One of the constant talking points under previous coach Kurt Rambis' tenure was the triangle system he ran on offense and whether or not the young, inexperienced players were grasping it.
It seemed at times -- and players would allude to this -- that Rambis was trying to jam a square peg into a round hole by forcing his team into a system rather than running a system that fit his players.
Kahn said this will no longer be an issue under Adelman.
"I think one of the beauties of Rick, and I think I said on the day we introduced him, he has demonstrated he is capable of really, he does have a core system, so to speak, but he's never used that in a very confining way," Kahn said. "He's always changed the way he coaches according to his personnel."
Seemingly more media-savvy after months of league-imposed silence during the NBA lockout, Kahn took the high road when asked if Rambis was too rigid and stubborn with his complicated system.
"I don't want to engage in any of that," he said. "It's just not appropriate. I am happy Rick is here and I think it will be beneficial for our team that he is here. I think it would be unfair to do these comparisons."
Kahn drafted point guards Jonny Flynn (now in Houston) and Rubio in the 2009 draft with the idea that the Wolves would become a running team. That led to some head-scratching later that summer when Kahn hired Rambis, a product of Phil Jackson's triangle system with the Los Angeles Lakers -- which works swimmingly when you have the likes of All-Stars Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol but not as well when you have Love, Flynn and a collection of others still wet behind the ears.
Kahn insists he got it right this time and Adelman will look to showcase the young team's athleticism and ability run the fast break.
"The way (Rick) wants to play philosophically matches perfectly with mine," Kahn said. "The same as we have always wanted to play which is up-and-down within reason and with a lot of ball movement and a lot of featuring passing and shooting."
This isn't exactly Adelman's first rodeo with a young team looking to stabilize themselves and take the next step in the NBA. He brought the Portland Trailblazers to the Finals in 1991-92 in just his third full season of coaching before losing to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in six games.
In his first year at Sacramento, 1998-99, Adelman won just as many games (27-23) in a lockout shortened season as the previous regime did in full season the year before (27-55) and took the Utah Jazz to five-games in the first round of the playoffs. Adelman later took the Kings to one conference final (2002) and three conference semifinals (2001, '03 and '04).
"The beauty of Rick is that he has done it so many different ways and has shown the ability to adjust, usually, on the fly," Kahn said.
Beasley's legal trouble
Kahn said he hasn't had the opportunity to speak with Beasley about his latest run-in with marijuana because of rules prohibiting front office personnel with speaking to players during the lockout.
Beasley was pulled over for speeding in Minnetonka in June and the officer found a plastic bag of marijuana under the passenger seat which Beasley later claimed wasn't his. He was fined and ticketed.
"I definitely want to (speak to Beasley)," Kahn said. "You want to hear the facts. But anytime anything like that occurs it is troubling. I am eager to hear from his side what actually occurred."
This was not Beasley's first incident involving marijuana. The promising-but-troubled 22-year old was fined $50,000 by the NBA in 2008 before his rookie season in Miami for his role in a pot-filled hotel room during the NBA's Rookie Transition Program.
Later in 2009, Beasley mysteriously checked himself into a Houston rehab center after sending out some disturbing tweets from his personal Twitter account.
The former second overall pick out of Kansas State was shipped to Minnesota in part of a sweetheart deal by Pat Riley to his former player Rambis for two future second-round picks after Riley's Heat had no place for Beasley after signing LeBron James and Chris Bosh.
The question surrounding Beasley during his entire tenure in Minnesota -- and career for that matter -- has been whether he can mature and live up to the nearly unlimited physical potential he has. The latest run-in with the law and the Wolves selecting Williams with the second-overall pick in June's draft could signify his time here is limited.
"I think Michael will be the one who determines (his role going forward) more than anybody," Kahn said.
• Kahn once again reiterated his stance that he intends to sign Love to long-term extension after his contract is up after this season. "I've said this consistently and I will continue to say it, I expect Kevin to be a big part of our franchise for a number of years," Kahn said.
• F Anthony Randolph worked out at the team's facilities Thursday but declined to comment to reporters. Kahn said he expects more players to arrive this weekend and his hopeful a full ensemble will be in Minneapolis by Tuesday.
• Kahn said he anticipates the team to open training camp in Minneapolis rather than start in Mankato. He would not rule out a possible trip to Mankato at some point during camp -- expected to start next Friday -- but believes the team will at least open camp in their facilities inside Target Center.
• Kahn has one-year remaining on his original three-year contract but says he has not spoken to team owner Glen Taylor about any type of extension.
• Adelman is expected to be in town by the weekend but neither he nor any other member of the coaching staff is allowed to work with players until the new collective bargaining agreement is official. Only the medical staff may work with players when they arrive in town but even they can't step foot on the court and can only work with them in the weight room and trainer's room.