The Minnesota Timberwolves’ decision to draft point guards Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn over now-superstar Stephen Curry in 2009 has become one of the greatest NBA draft gaffes of all-time. It’s a major part of what ultimately cost former general manager David Kahn his job, though until now we had never heard Kahn’s full side of the story.
Kahn authored a piece on SI.com on Monday discussing the role a draft prospect’s parent, such as Lonzo Ball’s father, LaVar, can truly have on the draft process. Based on Kahn’s account, his hands were somewhat tied back in ’09 when faced with the prospect of selecting Curry, thanks in large part to Steph’s father, Dell:
And, in a much lesser known incident, it happened to me. In 2009, just days after my May 22 hiring as President of Basketball Operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves, the agent for Steph Curry told me that Steph’s father, Dell, did not want his son to be drafted by Minnesota— “No offense, ” as I recall Jeff Austin, his agent saying to me at the Chicago draft combine.
Jeff Austin, who I’d known casually, had represented Dell Curry when he was a player. He had been handed Steph due to his connection to Dell and told me this was a family request. “I really need your help on this, ” Jeff said, explaining why there would be no visit and perhaps even hell-to-pay. (As it turned out, this was the only time when I was with the Wolves that I ever ran into this type of draft problem.)
Kahn notes that Dell Curry has previously hinted at the family’s request that the Wolves pass on drafting Steph, though without many details. While Rubio has gone on to enjoy a solid career with Minnesota, Flynn lasted just three years in the NBA. Curry, of course, has gone on to win a pair of NBA titles and Most Valuable Player awards with the Golden State Warriors.
The Timberwolves went an NBA-worst 89-223 during Kahn’s tenure in the front office.