Archive for May 22nd, 2009

The Minnesota Timberwolves today named David Kahn as the franchise’s President of Basketball Operations. With nearly 15 years of front office experience in both the NBA and the NBA Development League, and 24 years of experience in positions directly related to professional basketball, Kahn will assume responsibility for all decisions made within the Timberwolves basketball operations department.

“This is a milestone decision for our franchise and I couldn’t be more excited by our choice,” Taylor said. “David has studied under one of the most storied basketball minds in the league in Donnie Walsh and has clearly demonstrated that he has the intelligence, creativity, leadership and passion to take our team to the next level.”

“This was a process that we were determined to perform with the utmost diligence and care. By speaking with legendary individuals like Jerry West and Pat Riley, we developed a short list of candidates whom eventually led us to the conclusion that it was time to inject a fresh voice into our basketball operations. We’ve worked hard over the last few seasons to put our team in a position to succeed, and I’m confident that with David’s vision we’ll continue that progress.”

Kahn brings a wealth of diverse skills and experience to the Wolves stemming from previous positions in both the on-court and business sides of professional basketball. In addition to working as a journalist covering the league with both the Portland Oregonian and NBC Sports, and as a lawyer providing counsel to the NBA with Proskauer Rose LLP, Kahn worked in the front office of the Indiana Pacers for nine years, including four seasons as General Manager where we worked with and learned from Walsh. Most recently, Kahn has been involved in the acquisition and ownership of several NBA Development League franchises, where he has overseen the development of numerous players now in the NBA and presided over nine coaching hires.

“Minnesota is a team on the rise and I’m thrilled at the opportunity to join the Timberwolves organization,” Kahn said. “The team already has some significant pieces.  I know Mr. Taylor is committed to building a playoff team and I look forward to working with him to put a plan in place that will allow the Timberwolves to achieve sustained success. I promise that nobody will outwork or outthink us as we build one of the best front offices in the league and a team that begins a climb to the top.”

From the time Kahn joined the Pacers in 1995 through his departure in 2004, the team compiled a 430-276 (.609) record, made eight playoff appearances and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals four times, including an NBA Finals appearance in 2000.  Kahn also served as the point person for the design, development and marketing of Conseco Fieldhouse, widely considered one of the finest arenas in the NBA. He also served three years as Indiana’s representative on the NBA’s Competition Committee, and assisted Walsh with all facets of the Pacers’ basketball operations, including signing players, hiring coaches, making trades and managing the salary cap.

Kahn comes highly recommended by a number of his former colleagues:

“David helped me as much as anyone that I worked with during my time in Indiana, and his work with Conseco Fieldhouse made it the best building in the league,” Walsh said. “David has a wealth of experience and will do a great job in Minnesota. He’s very capable of capitalizing on the position the Timberwolves franchise is in and taking that team to the next level.”

“David is a remarkably gifted individual, with a combination of high intelligence, a major-league work ethic, and a great understanding of what makes teams successful,” San Antonio Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich said. “His ability to understand the dynamics of an NBA franchise is a real strength and he’ll be someone the Timberwolves can look to for leadership and sound decision-making.”

“I think the world of David. I’ve known him since we first crossed paths back at UCLA and I have nothing but admiration and respect for all that he’s accomplished throughout his career,” said Charlotte Bobcats Head Coach Larry Brown, who worked with Kahn for two seasons in Indiana. “David will bring a tremendous background to the job, particularly from his time with Donnie at the Pacers. I’ve always had a fondness for the Timberwolves, and with the group of exciting young players they’ve assembled, I think they have a great opportunity in front of them. I’m thrilled that David is getting this chance and I think he’ll do a phenomenal job.”

“I’m very happy for David. He’s a very intelligent guy and knows the ins and outs of this league as well as anyone,” said Indiana Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird, who coached the Pacers while Kahn was the team’s GM. “He has all the tools to get the job done in Minnesota.”

“An excellent hire. David has great knowledge of both the basketball and business sides of an NBA franchise,” said Dallas Mavericks Head Coach Rick Carlisle, who was Bird’s assistant at Indiana. “David is a highly-motivated person that will bring out the best in the people who work with him.”

Hawks coach Woodson to enter final year of deal

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports: What looks like pressure to some people looks like an opportunity to Hawks coach Mike Woodson. That’s why he was undeterred Thursday after it became clear he’ll enter next season in the final year of his contract. “There’s always pressure, if you want to call it that,” Woodson said after a day filled with meetings with Hawks officials and ownership. “I don’t look at it as pressure because I’m not made like that. All these people talking about fire Woodson and all that stuff, it’s never entered my mind. I swear. “The chatter is what it is. But we’re not going to do anything but keep pushing ahead trying to take another step next year.” Neither Woodson nor general manager Rick Sund broached the subject of a contract extension for the coach when they met.

The following is a statement from Philadelphia 76ers President and General Manager Ed Stefanski, regarding the status of the team’s coaching search:

“In the past week, I have completed interviews with six candidates, all of whom are exceptionally qualified, have an impressive knowledge of the game and are very well-respected within the basketball community.

“I truly appreciate that they took time out of their schedules to meet with me regarding this position. Along with my staff, we will continue our due diligence – including further interviews, extensive research and in-depth background checks – before a final selection is made.

“As I have said before, the qualities I am looking for in our next head coach include excellent communication and leadership skills, will stress the importance of accountability while also developing our players and will be a strong tactician.

“As such, due to the number of candidates still involved in the process, there is no timetable set for when this very important decision regarding the future direction of the franchise will be made.”

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced yesterday that the team has named Randy Wittman and Sam Cassell as assistant coaches on the staff of Head Coach Flip Saunders.  Per team policy, terms of the contracts were not released.

“Randy and Sam will be excellent additions to our coaching staff, and both will be instrumental in helping us achieve our goals,” said Saunders.  “Randy brings a wealth of experience as a former head coach of two different teams and is very familiar with my system.  I always regarded Sam as a coach on the floor during his playing days, and he brings instant credibility as a three-time NBA champion and a proven winner.”

Wittman was most recently with the Minnesota Timberwolves, where he served as head coach from January 23, 2007 to December 8, 2008.  He previously served as head coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers from 1999-2001.  He began his coaching career as an assistant coach with the Indiana Pacers in 1992, and later worked as an assistant for the Dallas Mavericks and Orlando Magic.  Wittman played collegiately at Indiana University under Bobby Knight, helping the team to an NCAA championship in 1981.  He was originally drafted by the Washington Bullets with the 22nd pick of the 1983 NBA Draft, and played nine seasons in the NBA for the Atlanta Hawks, Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers before retiring in 1992 with a career average of 7.4 points per game (.501 FG%) in 543 games.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to work with Flip again, and I’m confident that the staff he is assembling will complement the talented roster that is already in place,” said Wittman.  “I’m eager to help this team reach the next level and ready to get to work immediately on the court.”

The 2009-10 season will mark Cassell’s first foray into coaching after an outstanding 15-season playing career.  In 993 career regular season games, the former All-Star and Baltimore native averaged 15.7 points and 6.0 assists per game.  Cassell has won three NBA Championships (1994 and 1995 with Houston, 2008 with Boston), and appeared in the Eastern Conference Finals with Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld’s Milwaukee Bucks in 2001 and the Western Conference Finals under Flip Saunders with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2004.

“After 15 seasons playing in this league, I have accomplished all that I have dreamed of as a player,” said Cassell.  “Now the time has come for to me to take my love for the game to the coaching ranks and pass on what I’ve learned.  This team is loaded with talent, and it’s a great way for me to start my coaching career.”

Charlotte Bobcats are for sale

The Charlotte Observer (Rick Bonnell) reports:  Charlotte Bobcats majority owner Bob Johnson has stepped up efforts to sell the team, recently hiring a sports investment banker to look for a buyer. Sal Galatioto, president of New York-based Galatioto Sports Partners, confirmed to the Observer Thursday that he’s representing Johnson in a potential sale. Galatioto declined to comment further on the situation. Johnson told Observer columnist Scott Fowler last month that he’d like to sell controlling interest to minority owner Michael Jordan, the former NBA star who oversees the team’s basketball operations. Since then, according to multiple NBA sources, Johnson has begun looking for other potential buyers.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports: Former Chicago Bull Randy Brown’s three NBA championship rings were sold at auction Thursday for $53,833. The winning bidder, identified only as “RingKing,” outbid Michael Jordan’s publicist. A judge ordered them sold following Brown’s 2008 bankruptcy filing. The minimum bid was $19,000. editor says: That’s a damn shame.

76ers interview Tom Thibodeau

The Philadelphia Inquirer (Kate Fagan) reports: The 76ers confirmed they met yesterday with Boston Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau about their head coaching vacancy, bringing the number of interviewed candidates to four. The Sixers would not comment further on the interview, and Thibodeau could not be reached for comment. The Sixers called the Celtics for permission last weekend. Thibodeau joins former Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan, current Los Angeles Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis, and Dallas assistant Dwane Casey as the four known candidates on the list of Sixers general manager Ed Stefanski.

Richard Hamilton sues former agent

The Detroit Free Press reports: Pistons guard Rip Hamilton has filed a federal lawsuit accusing his former business manager, already at the center of recruiting allegations at the University of Connecticut, of stealing about $1 million from him. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District court in eastern Pennsylvania against 34-year-old Josh Nochimson of Glenview, Ill. It accuses Nochimson of using Hamilton’s credit card to buy airline flights, game tickets and other items.

Nuggets beat Lakers 106-103 in Game 2

The AP reports: Similar game, different ending for the Los Angeles Lakers. Their 24-year playoff dominance of the Denver Nuggets dissipated over the final 29 seconds of the fourth quarter in the second down-to-the-wire game in the Western Conference finals. That’s when Kenyon Martin hit a layup in traffic and Chauncey Billups made 3 of 4 free throws to give Denver a 106-103 victory in Game 2 on Thursday night to even the series… Carmelo Anthony scored 34 points, Billups had 27 points and Linas Kleiza added 16 for the Nuggets. Nene finished with six points, nine rebounds and six assists… Kobe Bryant had 32 points, including making all 10 of his free throws, Trevor Ariza scored a career playoff-high 20 points and Pau Gasol had 17 points and 17 rebounds for the Lakers, who dropped to 7-2 at Staples Center this postseason… The Lakers were shaky on free throws in the fourth, making 9 of 14, while Denver didn’t blink at the line. The Nuggets were 29 of 37, with Billups hitting 13 of 16 and Anthony 10 of 14.

Basketball blog