It’s safe to say Jonny Flynn and Wes Johnson will always have soft spots in Orange Nation’s heart. Flynn was congenial, optimistic, and had a flare for the dramatic. Jonny Ice always had a smile on his face. Wes zoomed across the Hill like a comet, walking out of the cornfields of Iowa State to help lead Syracuse to a top seed.
But ousted Timberwolves President David Kahn was in full “CYA” mode (Cover Your Ass) in an interview with the Minnesota Star Tribune while discussing these two draft picks.
“Flynn had leadership abilities at first blush. He was very dynamic, charismatic. You could see it his rookie season. The kid had a lot of confidence, plays bigger than he is. He just got hurt. He got hurt. He had a pre-condition nobody knew about his hip. During his recovery period, he knew something was wrong but he didn’t tell anybody it, there was a feeling of impingement in there (in his hip) and never described to trainers at Syracuse how deep it was.”
Nice. Throw it on Flynn. Sorry, Kahn. We’ve ripped on him in this space before. If you are an SU fan, you knew Flynn would struggle at the next level. He had a wonderful attitude, but he never owned a next gear that is mandatory at the NBA level. You have to create your own shot with elite explosion to the basket, or because of length and size (see MCW) even as a point guard, and Flynn always had a limitation there.
“It really has hurt his career. I hope he recovers from it. He’s still a very young player. I remember Bill Laimbeer in a staff meeting before Jonny’s first season likening Jonny to Isiah Thomas. People like to sort of pile on after they have information that proves their point, but there wasn’t this kind of piling on the poor kid that year. There were a lot of people who liked him a lot. He had a lot of explosion that went away.”
I like how Kahn buries Flynn for not telling him about the injury, but then scolds others for “piling on.” As for Wes?
“One of the selling points to Rick (Adelman) on this job when he was watching film of the team, he really liked Wes Johnson.”
So it was all Adelman, huh?
“And there was a lot to like about Wes. He was athletic. Even though he didn’t have a ball that had a lot of rotation on it, seemed to go in from a distance. You could really see him developing into an elite defender. I just think one of the things we missed was I’m not sure at the time his commitment was what was necessary. And I can’t speak for what he’s been like in Phoenix, but I’m noticing that it looks like they may be wanting to bring him back.”
I mean, look at Kahn. The Suns love Wes! Or at least like him enough to bring him back. And he never had the competitiveness to make it happen in the NBA. Again, every Orange fan has fond memories of Wes, but did we all believe he was worthy of the fourth pick overall? More CYA from Kahn.
“When I arrived, there really was no scouting database to speak of. When I asked list of top 10, top 30, top 40, nobody kept a list. It was kind of unbelievable to me. There was no infrastructure. And second year, one of things that hurt us was Fred Hoiberg, who I kept and I like a lot, ran the scouting but he left for Iowa State in May. We brought Tony Ronzone in, he was intended to supplant Fred. He’d be an additional body to Fred, his own skill set, largely international basketball, USA Basketball and other things. Fred left and we didn’t have somebody leading it those last few weeks heading into that draft. That’s two years in a row where we had change leading into draft period. Going into the 2011 draft, I tried to change system but it just didn’t get implemented the way I wanted.”
It wasn’t Kahn’s fault, got that? “There was no scouting. No infrastructure. Hoiberg left. My system didn’t get executed like I wanted.” Jeez. We’ve lamented SU’s lack of NBA success before. The program has sent its fair share of products to the pros. But outside of Carmelo, they largely haven’t panned out. Was there anything Kahn would do differently?
“Oh, for sure. For me, important thing was if you made a mistake, understand why you made a mistake and change the behavior so next time you don’t make the same mistake. Countless mistakes, c’mon, but everybody does, though. Every franchise can point to decisions that were made that you regret.”
Everybody had that many mistakes? Yeah, tell that to the Spurs.
My favorite line:
Q. Any (decisions) that will keep you up at night?
A. No. We have a pretty good team, just got hurt.
You won’t be up at night, but Wolves fans will.