Well, well, well.
Three days before the NBA Draft and eight years since the Wolves’ infamous 2009 draft, an old friend has resurfaced.
Former Wolves personnel boss David Kahn, who took over in that role not long before the 2009 draft, has a piece on SI.com that is purportedly about a lot of things but most interestingly provides a history of that draft eight years ago and why — from Kahn’s perspective — the Wolves chose Ricky Rubio No. 5 and Jonny Flynn No. 6, passing on Steph Curry.
Curry was drafted No. 7 by the Warriors, and the rest is history — with some revisions and context from Kahn, who writes that Curry’s agent told him shortly after he was hired (about a month before the draft) that Curry’s father, Dell, did not want Minnesota to draft Steph. Says Kahn:
The back-channel message would have weighed heavily in my decision-making process under any circumstances, but especially in Minnesota. Immediately after my hire, I was spending nearly every weekday morning in the team’s conference room, listening to team business partners and season-ticket holders lament over coffee and pastries. “You’ll never attract free agents here,” they said, practically in unison. “Players don’t want to play in cold-weather places.” Doomsday all around. I figured it was probably the wrong time to tell them about the Currys.
Kahn explained that there was already concern that Rubio — a player he loved who fell to the Wolves at No. 5 — would be hard to sign because of his contract in Spain. Drafting two players who didn’t want to play in Minnesota might have been a disaster. And so …
We took Rubio and Jonny Flynn, a ready-to-play point guard who started 81 games for us as a rookie and then fell victim to a terrible hip injury. At the time, drafting Flynn made a lot of sense: we didn’t have a single point guard on the roster and our staff had ranked him No. 1 among all point-guard prospects for not only his on-court play, but also his strong leadership qualities, a significant team need.
Kahn’s explanation is his best attempt to rationalize and explain what looks eight years later like one of the worst draft blunders in sports history.
That said, my memory — and that of other writers who were closer to it at the time — is that Curry was a far more logical pick than Flynn at No. 6. Even if Curry’s representation would have balked at the Wolves drafting him, he would have been an asset.
One thing we should all be clear on, though: the pick of Rubio at No. 5 was pretty much a no-brainer. I’ll have a much deeper look back at the drafting and evolution of Rubio, by the way, in an oral history slated to go live later this week.
Attempts to reach Kahn for that piece were sadly unsuccessful, as have been all my attempts since he left the Wolves.