MINNEAPOLIS – Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn made a rare speaking appearance at shootaround Friday morning, his intent being to quash trade rumors involving a reported deal that would send Nikola Pekovic and Derrick Williams to the Los Angeles Lakers for Pau Gasol. Reports of the deal, Kahn said, are completely false.
Since almost the moment that Mike D’Antoni took the coaching reins in Los Angeles, trade scenarios have been swirling around the Lakers’ big man, Gasol, who has had trouble adjusting to his team’s new system. But regardless of whether the Lakers are indeed shopping the Spaniard, Kahn said that the Timberwolves have not been in talks with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and company since June.
Kahn stressed that he was not upset that the trade rumors were printed, but he was annoyed that no one from the outlets that reported the supposedly coalescing deal called the team for confirmation. It seemed, in fact, that Kahn was more irked by the current climate of information flow within sports than anything else.
“I think that it is a daily occurrence in our league that isn’t just specific to the Minnesota Timberwolves,” Kahn said. “Most of what’s reported these days is either sourced anonymously or not sourced at all. What bothers me is it has an impact on a team and its players and its family members, and it’s not appropriate for that reason.”
Kahn said that he has not spoken to Pekovic or Williams about the rumors, his explanation being that it would be unfair to them and that “part of life in the NBA is someday you may be traded.”
Williams, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 draft, has been the subject of such rumors since the trade deadline on March 15. Many such rumors, even back then, targeted him as bait in a deal that would send him to Los Angeles for Gasol, and the chatter is likely to continue. Williams is jostling for position with an untouchable starter, Kevin Love, and he hasn’t yet sustained the level of play the team has been hoping for. But for now, he’s a Timberwolf, and that will likely remain the case for some time into the future.
Right now, Kahn said he’s more focused on seeing how his team comes together as it gets healthy. It would seem irresponsible to trade a major piece so early, before Ricky Rubio’s return from an ACL injury, especially when the point guard could dramatically alter the team’s approach and its level of success.
“When I lay my head down at night I think about how do we become better,” Kahn said. “When I wake up I’m thinking about how we become better. But it has to be tempered, especially now with the healthy team and the variables out there. They’re still out there.”
For trade rumors to begin so early in the season is not necessarily rare, but it’s at least uncommon. A week remains before Dec. 15, the date at which players who signed offseason deals are cleared to be included in trades, thus opening up the market further and allowing teams to explore more complex swaps. By then, Rubio may have made his debut, but that’s not to say that the Timberwolves will be active. If one thing came from Kahn’s explanation-cum-lecture, it’s that he thinks the team needs time to become the group it can be, and it’s hard to argue with his point.