David Kahn Press Conference


OFFICIAL RELEASE

AL JEFFERSON REACTION

David Kahn Press Conference Announcing the Release of Kevin McHale
David Kahn Audio

Opening Statement:
“I wanted to start by echoing what Kevin Love said. It’s a sad day. It’s a sad day because it is always hard in this business to have to part ways with anybody. But it’s especially sad when you have to do it with somebody who has meant as much as he meant to the state of Minnesota basketball, was a member of one of the greatest teams of all time and who I learned through these last three and a half weeks is a very special person, a warm person, a bright person and somebody who deeply cares about the players he coaches and has a big heart. It’s a sad day when you have to do this. And so, ultimately though, we will have to move on and start a search. I just wanted to say this at the start.”

Kahn on whether there was a deadline to make decision:
“There was no deadline. Nothing changed. I didn’t feel ever pressured that we had to do this by a certain date.”

“(The decision) wasn’t all of a sudden. It was over the last three and a half weeks. And as I assured everyone when I took the job, there was some history here before I even arrived about what would occur next year on the coaching front with Kevin. I felt that out of respect for him and the organization that there should be only one candidate to start with and that we should figure out collectively if he should be the coach. I promised everybody that no matter what we did, it would be conducted with respect and dignity. And I hope we did. It wasn’t some sort of epiphany. I just felt that it was time to make the decision.”

Kahn on why he felt he had to make this decision:
“Because I thought we needed to make a decision and take a direction. I do not want this to become an exercise in things Kevin failed to do because he didn’t fail to do anything. And I feel very strongly a bout this. Kevin has done some really remarkable things with this franchise. And I can speak to that as someone who watched from a distance for many years. He took this team to the Western Conference Finals once and he made this into a perennial playoff team and those are great successes in our league by any measurement. I do not want to engage in this, that or the other thing. I truly believe that he did some remarkable things here.”

“This is a great man who did some great things here. Some really remarkable things here. And he deserves to be treated with respect.”

Kahn on why this was the right decision:
“I felt this is the right decision because we needed to take this course. I said in the news release that you all received. This is going to be a transition period still. And with the changes that have occurred and the changes that are still to come, it would have been difficult to put him in the middle of that again. I really felt that way. So what I said, I really do believe.”

Kahn on what McHale brought to the team:
“I think that his relationship with the players is wonderful. These players like playing for him. I saw that immediately. He has some enormous gifts in terms of communication skills. He’s a very bright guy and, as everyone told me before I met him, with an exceedingly high basketball IQ. What I didn’t appreciate, but now appreciate even more, he’s a better person than even I understood. He’s really a very special person and he’s a good guy.”

Kahn on characteristics he is looking for in a new coach:
“I will say one thing and I think it’s in relationship to players – and I have actually spoken to some of the players this morning. I think there was a change last season when the coaching change was made in terms of the communication with players and the relationship with them. And that was a very positive change. And I have assured them that I understand that and that positive nature needs to continue. Whoever the person is needs to understand we will probably be a young team and we probably will be a team in transition and we will need a positive environment to grow as quickly as possible.”

Kahn on when he came to the conclusion:
“Over the last couple days.”

Kahn on Kevin Love’s tweet announcing the decision:
“I don’t want Kevin to feel badly about that. We live in a very different world than all of us grew up in. I don’t think it’s a big deal.”

Kahn on where the process goes from here:
“Because of the draft, literally after this news conference, we’ll be in lockdown mode for the draft. I told everybody that we won’t even start the process until the day after the draft. I have no candidates. Not lined up on the back of a napkin. Nothing. We will put a list together immediately after the draft and start a search.”

Kahn on whether the decision would have been delayed if it had not been leaked:
“I thought it was important. We probably would have done something today. So, no, I don’t think anything changed in that respect.”

Kahn on whether McHale’s uncertain future would have hampered the decision-making for the draft:
“Not at all. What I said, and I continue to believe it, I think it would have been inappropriate. It would have been harder for him than for us, frankly, to be in a room with other executives and his status not resolved. People would have asked him questions and I just didn’t feel that was right for him to be put in that environment.”

Kahn on whether he values hiring an experienced coach:
“I’m not ready to say anything about that. We need to do the draft first. The one thing I want to reiterate is that I do understand that there needs to be a positive environment for the players to grow. And some of Kevin’s communication skills were very helpful on that front.”

Kahn on needing to hire a teacher as coach:
“Probably in the sense that we will continue to be young and have some young bigs especially. I think, frankly, as we go through this draft process, so much of the NBA these days is about player development because the players are coming into the league at such a young age. And I think every franchise has to have some sort of approach to do that. It may not be born out of the head coach, it has to be staff wide.”

Kahn on how Glen Taylor took decision:
“I spoke to Glen only once about this – Friday night. And I hadn’t made a decision Friday night. But I offered him some thoughts. And I told him that I really wanted to think hard about things over the past weekend. He assured me that night as he had assured me in the past that it would be my decision and he would support whatever decision I made.”

Kahn on releasing someone who has been with the team for so long:
“It’s hard. And it’s especially hard when you have someone of this guy’s reputation and character – which is so sterling. It’s hard. that’s an unfortunate part of this business.”

Kahn on how big of an upgrade the roster needs:
“I think we need some help. I think I have been very candid about that. We won 24 games last year and I recognize that if Al hadn’t got hurt, maybe we would have won a few more. But we need some help. I hope I’m being forthright in saying that we won’t be able to do it all right away. I have laid out a plan for the next 15 months where I hope we can do most of it.”

Kahn on the status of assistant coaches:
“They’re here. I know it’s hard. It’s hard before and harder still. But everybody I believe has been working professionally and everybody has been working hard with a lot of intensity. And I expect that continue until further notice.”

Kahn on dealing with players’ reactions:
“That’s why today, as I said to you, I told them that I recognized how important it is to maintain the kind of camaraderie and the kind of upbeat feel that Kevin is so gifted at going forward.”

Kahn on going after a high-profile coach:
“My personal philosophy is if you try to hire someone strictly for marketing mode or a gimmick, you better figure out that you have to win here. You’ve got to have a good product on the court. And the marketing stuff goes away fast. So, no, that won’t be a factor. I hope we have a robust list of candidates. I think we will. And I think this is an exciting opportunity, understanding that it could take a couple years still for us to be in position. But I think we will develop a pretty robust list.”

Kahn on looking for a coach to fit a style of play he sees the team playing:
“The nature of the beast, and I wish it wasn’t, on a positive note Kevin had a very good, long run here. That’s unusual. I’m very happy about that although that makes it a little bit more painful and I’m using that as a juxtaposition. The shelf life for most coaches isn’t, frankly, as long as it should be. And that will be my responsibility. It will be up to me figure out who this person is. We need to pick players and build this team as if five, seven, 10 years from now, the decisions we make have some lasting value. That doesn’t mean in five, seven, 10 years from now, we will have the exact collection of players. But we’ve got to be guided by the principle. We’ve got to do what’s in the best interest of this franchise. And I think it can be a mistake to pick players based on a personality and not what’s in the best interest of the franchise.”

Kahn on whether there was a disagreement philosophy wise with McHale:
“We didn’t have any disagreements in that respect. I just felt like it would have been difficult. The more I went through the process, it appeared to me there would be some challenges that would be difficult for us to sort out.”

Kahn on talking so highly of McHale on the day the team let him go:
“I think that again is the nature of the beast. If you allow me to editorialize, I’m not a big believer in black and white. I think the world is mostly gray. And yet, people want to continually present it as black and white. And I just don’t think it is. I believe to my core that Kevin McHale has some enormous gifts and is a good human being who cares deeply about his players. But I can also believe, at this present time, it was time to make a change.”
For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Jonah on Twitter.