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“Walsh, Lee, Hurry Up There’s An Expiring Contract Available In Minnie.”

Everyone is reporting the imminent signing of Nate Robinson, including those who claimed Nate would notTrade For Me Please return, but David Lee remains Walsh’s problem child as Lee’s agents search feverishly for an acceptable sign and trade so that Lee can get paid starting this season.  Lo and behold, an opportunity has opened up in Minnesota where Kahn has authorized center Mark Blount to seek a trade.  Blount is in the last year of a contract which will pay him about $7.9 million this year, almost the $8-9 million Lee is expected to get in the first year of his next long-term contract.  For Lee this is a great opportunity to effectuate a sign and trade proposal, especially since the Knicks remain in flux at center.  They are set to experiment with Darko and Curry this season.  Blount’s expiring contract would fit quite well in Walsh’s plan and after screwing the Knicks all summer, Kahn could finally do a “solid” for his mentor by taking Lee.

Regarding Robinson we are awaiting the details of his contract to be revealed, but it is reported that it is laden with performance incentives. That deal heightens the drama value of the relationship between Robinson and D’Antoni.  If the incentives are attached to assists then D’Antoni might have a few sideline smiles to share.  If the incentives are attached to points scored, score one for fantasy geeks. If they are attached to wins. . . .(Knicks’ Spirit Week, remember) then hopefully he will double his salary.

Also take note that even the press has joined in on this as “Knicks Spirit Week.”  No one is negatively reporting Darko’s arrival from Serbia today, after he missed all of the voluntary training camp.  Than goodness he’s not Zach Randolph or we would already be hearing criticism about his work ethic and whether he fits as a Knick.

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Mike Wilbon refuses to buy into “Happy Week.” Forgive him, he lives in D.C. and is from Chicago:

It won’t take as long as some might think to start to get some answers to these questions. Training camps start in a week or so and the interminable NBA season is only five weeks away…Oh one more thing: stop waiting on the Knicks, who could be the most irrelevent and overhyped franchise in all of American sports. The Knicks last won in the early 1970s and since then it’s been mostly disappointments (except the two trips to the Finals in the 1990s). Only New Yorkers think the Knicks are hugely important to the NBA. They aren’t.

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September 24, 2009 Posted by | David Lee, Donnie Walsh, Nate Robinson, New York Knicks | , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Did Rubio Con A Kahn Or Was Minnie Marburied Again? Part 3 of 3

Kahn-Rubio Torn Apart


David Kahn’s move, to draft Ricky Rubio despite his immediate inavailability, was right out of Red Auerbach’s playbook.  In 1978 on draft day, the Celtics had both the 6th and 8th first round picks.  Auerbach was widely criticized for using the 6th spot to draft Larry Bird as a “junior eligible.”  Bird had already been in college for four years but had one more year of eligibility left which meant Red had to wait a year for Bird.  He used the 8th spot to draft Division 1 star Freeman Williams, who never played for the Celtics but was involved in a major trade; the exchange included #31 1981 pick (Danny Ainge).  Owning the 8th spot allowed Auerbach to take the risk, but in order to retain Bird’s rights, Auerbach had to reach an agreement with Bird before the next draft.  Eventually and reluctantly Auerbach agreed to pay Bird  $650,000, the highest rookie salary ever at the time.  Auerbach was confident, but the success of the move was not certain.

Without such a bold move, it is highly unlikely that Bird would have been the greatest Celtic of all time.  Perhaps, he would have been a Knick.

And lest we forget, another General Manager “genius” Bob Bass was criticized for using the #1 pick in 1987 to draft David “The Admiral” Robinson although he had two years of a naval commitment to serve after graduation. The Spurs faced a special quandary which led to speculation that Robinson might not sign with San Antonio within a year and attempt to force free agency so that he could be courted by the Lakers or the Knicks.  Didn’t happen.  David Robinson became one of the greatest Spurs ever.

David Kahn is less a fool than fans with short memories or no historical reference.  Kahn was very clear when he released Kevin McHale that he was in rebuilding mode and that it would take a couple of years to bring the team back to contention.  He does not need Rubio now.  He can build his team patiently, with “all deliberate speed” and wait for Rubio to mature as a person and a baller.  The odds are greater than not that Rubio will increase in value in two years – he will add bulk and probably a jump shot. This will happen on someone else’s Euro, not his dime.  Rubio also won’t require mommy to move to the states with him. (I admit that when I moved from Chicago to Jersey at age 18, I wanted my mommy to come with me. . . .but, then I got there. . . LOL).

Immediately after the Rubio deal fell through, Kahn was still working to build his team his way.  Within two days of his heartbreak, Kahn pushed the Knicks and Clippers out of the way to sign young point guard Ramon Sessions who had been a free agent in waiting for most of the summer. With a more seasoned young guard, Kahn and Rambis will get a better idea over the next couple of  years how their high octane offense is going to work with Flynn and a guard who can shoot better than the Spaniard.

This summer, in three moves, Kahn potentially, if his dual point guard offense works, has solidified his back court for five years, very inexpensively.  Jonny Flynn has a four year contract with two consecutive team options beginning in 2011.  Rubio becomes available via buyout by 2011. The Wolves hold his NBA rights until one year after he discontinues playing pro ball for another team.  Sessions has a four year contract which carries until 2012-13. 

Every pick is a risk, but the rewards regarding Rubio are promising. Kahn has created numerous options which include using Rubio’s rights in a future trade or developing two solid points in Flynn and Sessions and eventually trading one of them for a missing piece.  For now, the Wolves may be more of a threat to enter the 2010 draft lottery than the Western Conference playoffs, but with a young core of Jonny Flynn, Al Jefferson, Ramon Sessions, Kevin Love and Wayne Ellington, their development should be exciting to watch over the next couple years.



Kahn has been a thorn in the Knicks behind all summer, since he traded for the fifth pick.  It was rumored that Walsh and the Knicks were trying to move up in the draft in order to secure either Rubio or Stephen Curry.  Although it was believed that Walsh would be happy with Jared Hill falling to the Knicks, everyone knew the Knicks needed a solid back-up/soon-to-be-starter to work with or replace Duhon to operate D’Antoni’s offense.  By drafting both Flynn and Rubio, the Knicks felt forced to a less satisfying option and remained in a quandary regarding how to address the point guard issue.

Nevertheless, the Knicks smartly purchased a late first round pick from the Lakers and turned it into a solid ACC guard, Toney Douglas, who many expect will be a pleasant surprise as a team leader, floor conductor and scorer.  This is a great opportunity for him to step up and fill the void that Walsh could not.

It appears that while Walsh is playing checkers, jumping over pieces without taking any, Kahn is playing chess like a GM (grandmaster or general manager, pick one).  Kahn who had touted running a two guard up-tempo offense, immediately went after free agent Ramon Sessions, who was looking for an opportunity to save him from lesser contracts with the Knicks, Clippers or Bucks.  The Knicks had been very interested in Sessions, but refused to reel him in with a multi-year deal.   Throughout the blogosphere, hyper-hopeful Knicks fans were hypothesizing that Walsh, with his patented “patience”, was waiting Sessions out.  But the truth has been revealed and it was Sessions who was being patient.  Clearly lacking confidence that they could create more cap space by eventually trading Jared Jeffries or Eddie Curry, Walsh just watched as Sessions walked out of the free agent corner he was supposedly trapped in into a 4-year, $16 million deal. (Compare that to the 2-year $13 million dollar deal Walsh gave Chris Duhon to scare away Marbury).

Kahn’s move is being interpreted by some as a sign that he has given up on Rubio and will eventually trade his rights to the Knicks.  This is not necessarily so, nor is it necessary.  In fan imaginations, New York is the penultimate venue for big time“athletepreneurs”  and the place every one wants as a home. Some Knicks fans will be pining ad nauseam for OPP Rubio for two years, longer than the lap dance they are giving OPP LeKing of Akron.   In this case, the reality is that Rubio’s only way into the NBA is through Minnesota, unless he sits out a year which makes absolutely no sense.  Consequently, the only way Rubio becomes a Knick, even with covert interference by the commissioner, is with the blessing of Kahn.

Kahn has shown that he doesn’t give a damn about how the Knicks develop their team.  He is clearly focused on building the Timberwolves. Any harm to the Knicks probably is not personal, just collateral damage from the maneuverings of a general manager who understands that to build a contender you start the team core with homegrown youth, complimentary trades and expert use of exceptions to the salary cap.

On second thought, Kahn’s moves may help Knicks fans by demonstrating how being “patient but proactive” is a better strategy than what their team is employing now.

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Previous Related Posts:

Did Rubio Con A Kahn or Was Minnie Marburied Again? Part 2 of 3

Did Rubio Con A Kahn or Was Minnie Marburied Again? Part 1 of 3

Chapter One Of Rubio Buyout Story Coming To A Close

Timberwolves GM Refutes Story Of Rubio Contract: “No Team in any league has reached a deal.”

Rubio Reportedly Will Sign Six-Year Contract With Regal Barcelona

Fanatics Pre-Draft Scouting Report: Ricky Rubio


Brandon Jennings says F*ck the Knicks and Chris Duhon Ain’t Gettin it Done

September 7, 2009 Posted by | Donnie Walsh, New York Knicks, Rick Rubio | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 42 Comments

Did Rubio Con A Kahn Or Was Minnie Marburied Again? Part 2 of 3


From a business standpoint, Rubio has brought nothing new to the world of sports. Like picky athlete’s before him – Eli Manning, Brian Bosworth, John Elway and Jay Cutler come to mind  (should Rubio be playing football instead? O.K. throw in Steve Francis.) – Rubio had big league, big market dreams shared by his parents and advisors. 

Rubio is an 18 year-old kid who thought the time was right to make a move to the bigger league.  He believed the hype and anticipated that he would go very, very high in the 2009 draft.  He had advised DKV Joventut, which launched his career at 14 with a onerous five-year contract, that he did not want to play for them anymore and that he planned to do a remake of “Coming To America,” Euroleague style.  Thus, after the draft, buyout negotiations began in earnest although Rubio always gave a sense (check his tweets) that he was outside the loop of such discussions and at the mercy of DKV Joventut. 

Now we know the buyout itself was never prohibitive, only challenging because DKV Joventut had intended to let Rubio go once he asked out.  It was just a matter of how they were getting most of their buyout figure in return for his release.

Rubio Math MagicRubio himself had stated that he would play in the NBA even if the buyout netted him $0 for a couple of years.  Sure he was just talking smack.  But it didn’t matter how disingenuous his bravado was because before the draft he and his advisors  thought he would make (or find) enough money for a buyout.

When Rubio entered the draft before the lottery selection, he thought he would go higher (2-4) than the 5th spot. His camp also indicated that it intended to exercise its leverage to urge certain small-market teams not to apply for Rubio’s services.  Rubio indicated that he did not intend to go to Memphis nor the Wizards who initially held the 5th spot.

Many of the reputable draftniks had suggested Rubio would go 2d instead of Thabeet. There were also rumors that the New York Knicks would maneuver into position to grab Rubio.  One such rumor had Wilson Chandler in a dog-sled and Rubio on top of the Empire State Building auditioning for “High School Musical 12” as Zach Effron’s understudy. It didn’t hurt that when the Wizards traded the 5th spot to Minnesota, Rubio did not embrace Minnie as a future home either.

Lucille Ball copyRubio was so confident about going in the top four that he initially refused to attend workouts with the other top guards, including his bud Brandon Jennings, who warned the world that Rubio was all-hype and no game, before he took back the honest slight.  Rubio’s refusals and his eventual workout, alone with the Kings, also heightened concern that he was not prepared for the rigors and competition of the NBA (a fact he seems to admit after the fact; some would call that a chump move. Score one for Jennings.).

After the draft, Rubio’s dad made it clear that his son was not going to play in Minnesota anytime soon. “Right now Ricky is likely staying in Europe one or two years,” the father said.  “We have to talk to the people in Minnesota and see what happens” and “we could be in Minnesota or somewhere else.”

Ricky and Team Rubio probably did not anticipate that Kahn and Minnesota would work so hard to get the fifth pick and that he would fall that far.  He also didn’t seem to believe that the Wolves would actually reach an agreement with DKV Joventut to accelerate Rubio’s transition to the NBA.  It was clearly a miscalculation on Team Rubio’s part because money was never the real problem after he bid DKV farewell.

As Chris Sheridan pointed out, even in Minnesota Rubio would be able to afford a mutually agreeable buyout: “The Timberwolves’ offer, which could include only $500,000 in cash under NBA rules, would presumably have revenue streams from Rubio’s endorsement deals and his four-year, $15.2 million NBA rookie-scale contract ($3.27 million salary in 09-10, $3.51 million in ’10-11, with team options for $3.76 million in ’11-12 and $4.76 million in ’12-13).”

Despite the financial limitations, Kahn spent the summer crafting a deal that was acceptable to all parties. Rubio agreed to the arrangement that would make him an NBA baller at 18, but then reneged on his agreement with Minnesota.  In a statement, the corporate board of DKV Joventut said,

Yesterday, after a big effort from the two parties, DKV Joventut and Minnesota Timberwolves reached an agreement which permitted to terminate the contractual relationship between the player and the Club and his integration in the NBA team.
In front of this situation and in contradiction with what he has been saying to us and to Timberwolves´ representatives from time to time, the player has announced the decision that he wants to be transferred to FC Barcelona.
From a very beginning, never at our own initiative, we have been receptive and we have negotiated with maximum respect and clarity with everybody, accepting that the player wants to leave and that we should find the best suitable solution.

Kahn knew his chances of getting Rubio this season were slim, but it was his job to make a serious effort since Rubio indicated he would be interested in joining the Wolves immediately.  In a teleconference after Rubio reneged Kahn revealed his plan and the process:

On the night of the draft, I explained that the decision to draft Ricky was not difficult – that he was 18, the youngest player in the draft, and we were a building team that could wait for him. Nothing has changed. When we received signals from Ricky this summer that he was considering accelerating his path to the NBA and joining us sooner, we threw ourselves into this process willingly and energetically, including meeting with Joventut on four separate occasions.

Kahn clearly felt emotionally burned after putting so much time and effort into bringing Rubio to the states.  Still, Kahn would not throw his asset under the front wheels of the bus. Based on Kahn’s statement alone it is difficult to tell whether he actually thought Rubio was just a kid under pressure, a business Decepticon using the Wolves or just an outright liar:

"On Saturday night, an agreement was reached between Dan Fegan, the agent for Ricky Rubio, Jordi Villacampa, the president of Joventut Badalona, and myself on behalf of the Minnesota Timberwolves to buy out the last two years of Ricky´s contract with Joventut so that he could play in the NBA next season.

While the term sheet was being finalized Monday night, Ricky informed me that, despite considering us his first option the previous weekend – and, admittedly, after some back and forth throughout the summer — he preferred to stay at home to play for FC Barcelona, which earlier this summer had made a buyout offer to Joventut. He also reaffirmed that it was his intention to join us in Minnesota two years from now when he will be 20.

Statements attributed to Rubio don’t help clarify whether his true position is to avoid the Timberwolves and the Minnesota cold at all costs or to really play for Rambis as Jonny Flynn’s and Ramon Session’s back-up in two years.  He seems to talk out of both sides of his mouth, in two languages to two different audiences.

Immediately after his change of heart, Rubio released the following statement:

"The reason leading me to take this next step is to have a period of preparation to better take the challenge of the NBA in better conditions as a player. The Minnesota Timberwolves continue to be my first option and I wish to play with them in the near future."

Later, when speaking to the spanish press, Rubio indicated that he had several reasons for not joining the Wolves, at least one of which contradicted Kahn’s and DKV Joventut’s statements:

"Going to Minnesota would have just complicated my life a lot. It was a risk and I didn’t see it so clearly," Rubio said. "My priority was the NBA and it was impossible for the Minnesota Timberwolves to pay my buyout clause, so I wanted to stay home." reported that Rubio really wanted to stay connected to home at this point and that he wanted to develop as a player and win trophies, which was less likely in Minnesota.  But, the American press quoted him as saying “I won’t lie, My objective has always been the NBA.”

A wise old Latina woman once said, if you must start the sentence off with “’I won’t lie,’ you’re probably hiding something.” For Knicks fans, it is easy to imagine, with the help of those who need camouflage for poor planning (i.e., the Knicks), that Rubio will find a way not to play in Minnesota in two years.  The NBA is clearly not his objective this year, nor is Minnesota.  So wisely, Walsh has immediately placed his marketing chips back on the Rubio table.

While he knows that a lot can happen in two years – like the Knicks could have a settled backcourt, Sessions could get traded to make room for Rubio, or Kahn could trade Rubio’s rights for a 2010 first rounder –  Walsh can make sure the Knicks are in a position to help Rubio help him, if that becomes an option.  For now, Walsh will have two years to monitor the situation and to constantly call his protégé with new trade proposals.

But one must remember that this is not football or futbol.  The business-game is NBA basketball shortly before an anticipated Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) fight. NBA history suggests that Kahn is in a superior position to Rubio and Walsh and that he may have played this situation perfectly. 


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Next: Kahn’s Move For Rubio – A Classic Gambit

Previous Related Posts:

Did Rubio Con A Kahn or Was Minnie Marburied Again? Part 1 of 3

Chapter One Of Rubio Buyout Story Coming To A Close

Timberwolves GM Refutes Story Of Rubio Contract: “No Team in any league has reached a deal.”

Rubio Reportedly Will Sign Six-Year Contract With Regal Barcelona

Fanatics Pre-Draft Scouting Report: Ricky Rubio


Brandon Jennings says F*ck the Knicks and Chris Duhon Ain’t Gettin it Done

September 6, 2009 Posted by | Donnie Walsh, New York Knicks, Rick Rubio | , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Did Rubio Con A Kahn or Was Minnie Marburied Again? Part 1 of 3


In the immortal words of that famous redhead, Lucille Ball: "Ahhhhh Ricky."

Has the latest episode in the Ricky Rubio Show earned the child-star the nickname of "Tricky Ricky” for not being completely honest?  Or for Minnesota fans is he just the 2.0 European version of a young Stephon Marbury?

Shortly before the ides of March in 1999, the Minnesota Timberwolves traded a discontent Stephon Marbury to the New Jersey Nets in an eight player deal.  A few weeks earlier Marbury turned 22. The previous two years, the Wolves, with a young Marbury and a rising star in Kevin Garnett, had become a formidable and promising one-two punch.  In 96-97, Garnett, Marbury and co-star Tom Gugliotta led the Timberwolves to the playoffs for the franchise’s first post-season appearance ever.  In 97-98, with “Googs” lost for much of the season, the Wolves made the playoffs again with an even better regular season record. 

The Wolves thought their future was set until after they gave Garnett a whooping $126 million deal which peeved league owners and Commissioner Stern, helped precipitate the lockout of 1998-99 and angered star Gugliotta, who signed a six-year deal with the Suns at the end of the lock-out.  The shortened season had just started when the Wolves traded Marbury,  who rejected a $70.8 million maximum contract extension, to the Nets. At the time, Marbury refused to extend his contract with Minnesota , in significant part, because the New York City kid did not care for what he perceived as lily-mid-western-white, boring Minnesota and he preferred to be closer to home and friends. Marbury was roundly criticized for being selfish, egocentric and childish for breaking up a winning combination so he could be home with mommy.

Here we are ten years later and Minnesota gets rejected again by another young point guard who claims he would rather be around family and friends than bundled up in a mink coat battling the climate of the North Star State.  In fact, Rubio had intended to move to the U.S. with his mom, dad and sister until he found out he was bound for Minnie.  On draft night, he could not be found for the Timberwolves’ post-draft press conference and when the press caught up with him one of the first things he said was that his mom may not care much for living near Brett Favre and the Vikings, and “It’s too cold,” in Minnesota.

Unlike the maligned young Marbury, outside of Minnie, Rubio is being hailed by some as a patient young kid who knows how to wield power to get what he wants. And according to some opinion-pushers and pimps, Rubio’s sidekick, Timberwolves new President of Basketball Operations David Kahn, who he kicked to the curb in this drama, was duped and embarrassed by the man-child looking for the promised land. (See stories 1. Scores Report; 2. Fanhouse (Kahn/Failure); 3. Dime (A Summer of Discombobulation); and 4. CBS Sports (Kahn/Clown, Rubio/Good)). 

But as usual, when examined closely, little seems to match up with conventional wisdom and blogosphere opinionating.

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Next: Part 2 – Tricky Ricky’s Math Magic Miscalculation

Previous Related Posts:

Chapter One Of Rubio Buyout Story Coming To A Close

Timberwolves GM Refutes Story Of Rubio Contract: “No Team in any league has reached a deal.”

Rubio Reportedly Will Sign Six-Year Contract With Regal Barcelona

Fanatics Pre-Draft Scouting Report: Ricky Rubio


Brandon Jennings says F*ck the Knicks and Chris Duhon Ain’t Gettin it Done

September 6, 2009 Posted by | Donnie Walsh, New York Knicks, Rick Rubio, Stephon Marbury | , , , , | 5 Comments

Is Sessions Receiving An Offer From The Wolves? Updated: The Answer Is “Yes.”

Update: The Wolves and Ramon Sessions agree to a 4 year, $16 million contract. After being forsaken by Tricky Ricky Rubio, GM David Kahn quickly went to plan ‘B’ and pulled point guard Sessions out of free agency purgatory.  Sessions, widely considered the best young point guard available in the free agent market, reportedly had been courted by the Knicks and Clippers.  However, the Knicks who committed themselves to chasing free agents in 2010, clearly know that they barely have the cap space dollars to get a maximum salary free agent and a decent support staff for the likes of a LeBron James or Dwyane Wade.   The Knicks’ summer ends with rejection and dejection as they miss out on point guard after point guard in their effort to upgrade the starting PG position.  However, this leaves a great opportunity for draft pick Toney Douglas to show that he can be the Knicks’ leader of the future (if not the leader for tomorrow).

As Auggie mentioned in the comment section last night, Fanhouse and ESPN are reporting that David Kahn, after being spurned by Ricky Rubio, is prepared to tender an offer sheet to free agent Ramon Sessions.  As we know, the summer has been filled with unsubstantiated and unrealized rumors, but if Sessions winds up with the Timberwolves or the Clippers, it raises more questions regarding the effectiveness of Walsh’s 2010 Plan for Building A Contender In 20 Years.  Are you satisfied with Walsh’s summer moves?

September 4, 2009 Posted by | Donnie Walsh | , , , | 32 Comments

Timberwolves GM Refutes Story Of Rubio Contract: “No Team in any league has reached a deal.”

David Kahn says the story regarding a buy-out for Rubio is not true.

August 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 8 Comments