Ricky Rubio has reportedly agreed to join the Minnesota Timberwolves just two years after David Kahn and the Minnesota Timberwolves made him the No. 5 pick in the loaded 2009 NBA Draft. Back then, it was Kahn's second move at the helm of the Wolves; he had first traded for the pick that became Rubio, sending Mike Miller and change to the Washington Wizards for the selection and some gnarly but not debilitating contracts.
Kahn has made many more decisions since then, most of them bad. He picked Jonny Flynn (another point guard) at No. 6 in 2009, over Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings, Jrue Holiday and Jeff Teague. (Bad.) He traded the No. 19 pick in 2009 to Denver for a 2010 pick; the 2009 pick became Ty Lawson, the 2010 was flipped to Portland for Martell Webster. (Bad.) He hired Kurt Rambis as head coach in August 2009. (Bad.) He signed Ryan Hollins. (Bad.) He signed Ramon Sessions to block Flynn in the rotation. (Not good.) He traded Brian Cardinal for Darko Milicic. (Hilarious.) He picked Wesley Johnson No. 4 in 2010. (Bad.) He re-signed Darko Milicic. (Hilariously bad.) He traded two second-round picks for Michael Beasley. (Rather good, actually.) He signed Luke Ridnour. (Bad.) To justify Ridnour, he traded Sessions for basically nothing. (Not good.) He traded Al Jefferson for cap space when he already had cap space. (Bad.) He used part of said cap space to trade Corey Brewer for Anthony Randolph. (Good.)
That's a lot of moves in two years ... and those are only the most notable. But it's a stunning record: two wins, nine losses, two draws. That's a .181 winning percentage, stunningly similar to the Wolves' .195 winning percentage (32-132) since Kahn took over. His Losses Over Replacement GM is incredibly impressive.
But none of that matters if those first two decisions -- the decision to grab the No. 5 pick in 2009, and the decision to use it on Rubio -- work out. If Rubio now succeeds, and take the Wolves where Kahn thinks they can go, all the Flynns and Wesleys and even the Darkos will be forgotten and forgiven. If Ricky is the Ricky that David Kahn believes he is, that so many domestic fans believed he was, that so many Spaniards know he is ... then Kahn is golden.
Now what are the odds of that happening?
Time will tell. Our friends at Canis Hoopus are already pleading for Rambis to be fired before he can taint Ricky. Flynn is reportedly on the trading block so that Rubio won't have any challengers in the rotation; Ridnour is the other point guard on the roster, and a willing bench contributor who played behind Brandon Jennings two seasons ago. (Some in the Kings' front office used to compare Ricky to Luke back around the 2009 draft as a way of denigrating the Spaniard; they are no doubt amused by the latest news out of Minneapolis.)
Rubio will be given every chance to succeed by the Minnesota Timberwolves, and little chance to succeed by reality. Minnesota has no shooters; Johnson and Webster are the best bets, and Kevin Love on the pick-and-pop. That's about it. If the Wolves use the No. 2 pick on Derrick Williams, he'll help there and as a finisher at the rim ... but displace Beasley in the process. It's complicated, and there's no easy fix unless Kahn swings a major trade.
But with Rubio in place, those major trades don't look like desperate flails of a failing man. They look like attempts to build a team. Without Ricky? Nothing Kahn did had any semblance of organization. None. The jokes about Kahn's Year of the Point Guard and Year of the Small Forward -- Kahn acquired Beasley and Webster around and picked Johnson, Lazar Hayward and Nemanja Bjelica in 'the 10 draft; every last one is a natural small forward -- are well-worn, but are absolutely telling of the chaos in Minnesota. We make fun of Kahn because he has been terrible at his job. Go read the second paragraph if you don't believe me.
But Rubio can fix it. If Ricky is great, you have two stars. You have an identity that isn't maniacal laughter. If Ricky and Love can mesh around a new coach, and the other parts can sort themselves out, this is a team. Maybe not a great team, maybe not even a good team. But it's something you can actually understand, which is a lot more than be said about the last two incarnations of the Wolves under Kahn.
That's why today's news is so important and so welcome in Minneapolis. That's why Kahn has been busting his ass for two years to convince Ricky to jump the pond. For better or worse, the kid is the new face of the Wolves, and he's the only person on Earth who can vindicate Kahn. Let the task begin.