Wessel: Kahn deserved to go, but his dismissal guarantees nothing
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The news of David Kahn getting dumped by the Minnesota Timberwolves broke Thursday afternoon and the fans rejoiced like they were finally free from sporting prison after a three-year sentence that they didn't deserve.
Rightfully so, too. The nightmare is over, and fans deserve to be joyous after Kahn gave them so many reasons since he was hired in 2009 to cancel their season tickets. Pretty soon the Jonny Flynn and manna from heaven jokes will fade away the same way Joe Smith and T-Hud cracks did when the last front office was shown the door.
But like anything in sports or life, once you come down from the euphoria of celebration, reality begins to set in. That reality isn't always as positive or promising as you once thought when at the peak of jubilation.
The Wolves haven't announced anything yet, but it is all but official that Flip Saunders will replace Kahn at the helm. The name holds cache amongst basketball circles in this town, from Wolves fans who remember who last led them to the postseason and Gopher fans that are still upset he wasn't given the job.
But it is worth pointing out that Saunders doesn't have experience as a GM and his fingerprints were all over a lot of the moves that made Kevin McHale almost as big of a laughingstock as Kahn.
Saunders is the most successful coach in franchise history and brought the Detroit Pistons to the conference finals three straight seasons. But just because you can coach doesn't mean you can be a successful front office man. Look no further than McHale; his tenure as a GM -- save for a couple franchise Kevins -- was a disaster, but he now has the Houston Rockets in the playoffs in his second season as head coach.
This isn't to say Saunders won't be a success. He very easily could be great and help guide what is already a talented Wolves roster to another run of glory, but he is also far from a sure thing.
This also isn't a "be careful what you wish for" situation, either. Firing Kahn was the right thing and Saunders was a smart hire that will help rejuvenate fans beaten down by nine straight seasons without the playoffs.
Saunders has all the tools to be successful as a GM. He knows the league inside and out and, unlike his predecessor, and has the respect from other front offices around the league, which helps in negotiating. He will have to hit the ground running, with a potentially franchise-altering decision on Nikola Pekovic on the horizon. Further, Rick Adelman's future is still very much up in the air. Oh, and, don't forget that both Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio could both be in Los Angeles in three years.
So fans should celebrate and enjoy Kahn's dismissal -- they've earned it. But just know that when the party ends, this isn't a guaranteed bet. A lot of work needs to be done and a lot of correct decisions need to be made in what will be the most crucial three-year stretch in franchise history.