The Wrath of Glen Taylor

What did we do to you, Glen Taylor?  What have we done to earn your wrath?  All we have done is try to care for your basketball team, and insist on some standards for the people who work for it (and own it).  We don’t do it out of hate or spite.  We do it out of love.

And this is how you repay us? By driving away three qualified candidates to hire a guy who’s been out of the league for seven years and racked up a string of lawsuits and unhappy campers in the D-League. Just great.

For years, it’s been fun to call the Wolves front office a “country club”, as coined by KFAN’s Dan Barreiro.  At this point, though, some new term needs to be developed.  At least country clubs have some standards and try to make things better.  Glen Taylor’s shop is one of no accountability and not caring about building a winner.

I was tempted to go back to buying tickets for this team if the right sort of hire had been made.  Now, it’s back to wait-and-see mode.

Glen Taylor is the ringmaster of the worst circus you have ever been to

The never-ending search for the Minnesota Timberwolves’ new front office boss hit yet another nadir today with the news that Portland Trail Blazers assistant GM Tom Penn has withdrawn his name from consideration to take an enhanced title and salary from the Blazers to stay with the organization.

The singular word one can use to describe the “process” used to make this hire is:  circus.  And Glen Taylor is the ringmaster.  Instead of the normal way teams go about this (see the Minnesota Wild, for instance), identifying a group of candidates, interviewing them in one fell swoop, maybe interviewing a couple of them again, and then making your pick, Taylor has turned this thing into a massive flop under the big top. 

And the cause of the problems is the ringmaster himself.  Imagine the ringmaster firing a blow dart into the neck of your high-wire walker or greasing up the trapeze or not feeding the lions for a week before putting them in the cage with the lion tamer.  The foolish decisions of Glen Taylor are solely responsible for the predicament the Wolves find themselves in.

First, Taylor brought out his first act:  Dennis Lindsey, the assistant GM of the best-run franchise in the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs.  Lindsey has been high on everyone’s radar for open jobs, and in fact, he turned down the Atlanta Hawks last offseason.  While the 2008-09 Timberwolves were slogging to the end of their season, Taylor and Lindsey were quietly working on the outlines of a deal.  But, as the annoucement loomed, Lindsey suddenly pulled out.

Next, Taylor turned to a pair of folks not currently employed in the league.  Former Miami Heat GM Randy Pfund emerged for a time, confirmed to have been interviewed by the team.  And then there was David Kahn, who was the Indiana Pacers GM earlier in the decade, before going off to run four D-League franchises.  Kahn was noted for being a favorite of NBA Commissioner David Stern and for a history of questionable practices while in D-League.  Pfund was seemingly ready to come aboard, but the Wolves apparently gave up of him, leading to his eventual withdrawal.  Kahn, meanwhile, was reported to be close to a deal until his history (and negative public reaction?) caused the ringmaster to back away.

As those acts ground to a halt, it was time for the clowns.  Enter Bill Simmons, whose entirely unserious campaign (yes, I know he thinks he was being serious) nonetheless galvanized thousands of Wolves fans who were ready to believe in anything or anyone not named David Kahn or Kevin McHale.

The most recent act from the ringmaster was Penn.  Penn’s acceptance of essentially the same role with the Blazers that he had before is an indication that something has gone horribly wrong.  What is it?

It’s the ringmaster’s insistence on Kevin McHale and Fred Hoiberg remaining part of the organization.  No credible candidate is going to going to have his hands tied by his owner in advance.  No credible candidate is going to want to be forced to keep two possible successors with close ties to the owner in place.

Mr. Taylor:  If you want someone to do the job, let them do the job.  Give them the authority they need, and let them go to work.

No, don’t bring back Flip

Patrick Reusse made the case in yesterday’s Strib for bringing back Flip Saunders.

While it’s appealing to look at this 1-8 Timberwolves team and pine for the “good ol’ days” of first-round playoff exits, this is an urge that should be resisted.

Why?  Because Flip Saunders just wasn’t that good of a coach.  His tenure is Detroit proved it.  He can coax good regular season performances out of his teams, but in 11 trips to the playoffs failed to produce a team that went beyond where it was supposed to go.  Four times he lost series when his team had the home court advantage.

Randy Wittman is a bad NBA coach.  But let’s try to find a coach that’s better than average to replace him, not a retread of someone who will only make the Wolves as good as they should be.  Let’s try to find a coach good enough to raise the horizons even higher.

David Stern is a doofus

So it’s not so harsh.  I’d like to use a stronger term, but hey, this blog is for the kids, too!

But, it’s true.  David Stern is a doofus.  Now, I’ll grant you there are probably many reasons that one could cite, but today, I’m going with the Commish’s desire for a higher age limit on players entering the NBA.

It’s really too bad that no player is going to spend the time, money, and effort to challenge the rule (or the NFL’s, for that matter).  Because it clearly wouldn’t stand.

What David Stern wants is for his highly-paid team executives to be taken off of the hook for making mistakes selecting high school players.  And he wants the NCAA to use its resources to build players up into marketable commodities before they reach the league.  It’s perfectly understandable why he wants to do that.  It’s just wrong, though.

Some guys just don’t belong in college.  And there’s many reasons why.  Plenty of high schoolers have proved themselves ready for the NBA right off the bat.  In fact, four of the five players on the All-NBA first team this season are guys who came out of high school — Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Dwight Howard.  None of these players are any sort of blight on the league.  And it should be pointed out that the record of high schoolers taken in the first round is just as good — if not better — than that of college players.

Yes, there have been some washouts.  But you can equally find washouts who have gone to college. 

And then there’s the O.J. Mayo saga.  Taking money to “attend” USC for a year?  Is this really the sort of thing the NBA wants to endorse?  Does anybody think this will be the last of these sorts of situations to emerge if the rules stay in place?  I think not.

So go back to the old rules.  Free the high schoolers and let them come to the NBA.  If the NBA executives and coaches are really the best in the world — as they like to claim — they ought to be able to pick ’em, develop ’em, and coach ’em up so they reach their full potential.