Published November 20, 2014
When David Kahn took over as president of the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2009, he put himself front and center during a whirlwind of roster moves and reorganization.
For better or worse, Kahn served as the face of the franchise, never turning down an interview or a chance to relay his message that better days were ahead for one of the NBA's woebegone franchises. He did television commercials, wrote letters to fans and was practically omnipresent on the local talk radio as he feverishly remade the team.
Then, all of a sudden, he vanished.
For the past six weeks, Kahn has been nowhere to be seen — or heard — as the Timberwolves prepared to open their second training camp under his watch.
No trades or signings for an executive who has gained a reputation as a wheeler and a dealer in his relatively short time in charge. No extensive quotes on the Internet or in newspapers for the former reporter who was always approachable. And no more radio interviews since he got into a little hot water in July for some comments he made on the air about new forward Michael Beasley's past drug use.
The transition from the spotlight to the shadows has been part of his plan all along, Kahn said on Friday at the team's media day, a telltale sign that some sense of stability was finally being established in one of the league's most unstable franchises.
"I hope I can start to recede even further," Kahn said. "When you're in my position, the time to be seen is when times are not healthy yet. It's an attempt to take the pressure off the players and coaches.
"Ideally, if we have a nice building season where people can start to become excited about the changes that have been made and start to see some results on the court, the spotlight more appropriately will shine on the players and the coaches and less so than on the front office work that had to be done."
There's been plenty of work being done, that's for sure. He orchestrated more than a dozen trades in his first three months on the job last summer to create cap room and didn't stop tinkering with the roster for the next 12 months.
Only five players remain from the team that won just 15 games a year ago. Kahn brought in veterans Beasley, Luke Ridnour, Martell Webster and Anthony Tolliver and added rookies Wes Johnson, Lazar Hayward and Nikola Pekovic in another summer of upheaval.
"This was a fundamental deconstruction," Kahn said. "I called it a rebuilding last year, but in truth maybe we had to spend part of the time knocking down a building and then doing some heavy excavation work. That's hard and it puts pressure on everybody and it's very difficult on everybody's emotions."
But the white caps in "the Land of 10,000 Lakes" are slowly starting to dissipate.
"It feels a lot more stable and I think that that's part of the whole settling in that I think will permeate this team even though there are a lot of new faces," Kahn said. "I just think that there will be a lot more familiarity and it will feel less chaotic most of the time."
The Timberwolves have one of the youngest, and least expensive, teams in the league. Kahn wants to see how they grow this season while keeping his eye out for "one singular" move that would add a superstar-caliber player to give coach Kurt Rambis a go-to guy in crunch time.
The few Wolves that have been around for more than a couple of weeks are looking forward to the stability.
"This is my fourth year here and each year I've had new teammates," Corey Brewer said. "It's nothing new for me, but I hope the train is going to stop this year."
It may stop with Beasley, the No. 2 overall draft choice just two years ago. He never quite fit in with the Miami Heat, and the Timberwolves are hoping that he emerges as the dominant offensive force he promised to be at Kansas State.
Beasley has said before that drug use contributed to his sluggish start in South Beach, and Kahn said on a local radio show in July that Beasley was "a very young and immature kid who smoked too much marijuana" in Miami.
Sensitive to the perception that marijuana use is a problem in the league, the NBA cracked down hard, fining Kahn and the Timberwolves $50,000 each.
Beasley said on Friday that he didn't think Kahn should have been fined, saying Kahn "meant the right thing, he just didn't word it right."
"I don't feel like he revealed anything that hadn't already been revealed," Beasley said. "He said what half the world already knows."
Kahn said he spoke with Beasley about it and "I think Michael knew exactly where I was coming from and I'll leave it at that."