David Kahn (Yes, That One) Nailed LA Clippers' $2 Billion Price Tag Weeks Ago

Zach BuckleyNational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 30, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 28:  David Kahn President of Basketball Operations of the Minnesota Timberwolves introduces Andrei Kirilenko to the media by  at a press conference on September 28, 2012 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2012 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
David Sherman/Getty Images

There was a lot about the NBA that former Minnesota Timberwolves general manager David Kahn never seemed to understand: drafting and developing complementary pieces, the importance of securing young stars, managing relationships.

Assessing the value of a franchise, though, is apparently second nature for the old executive.

After Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's racist rant and subsequent lifetime ban from the league made it clear the Staples Center tenant was headed toward an ownership change, many took a stab at what the franchise could net on the open market.

Forbes valued the franchise at $575 million in January. League sources told Grantland's Zach Lowe, "the Clippers have a real chance to fetch the NBA’s first $1 billion sales price."

Kahn, in a piece written for Bloomberg View on May 8, called those estimates "much, much too low.

"It wouldn't surprise me to see the Clippers surpass the $2.115 billion paid for the Los Angeles Dodgers," Kahn wrote.

Dec 11, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson at a press conference to announce the signing of Zack Greinke (not pictured) at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

A number of factors led him to that conclusion, including the decrease of player costs set forth in the league's last collective bargaining agreement and the demand of potential purchasers far outweighing the supply of available franchises.

The market size also helped shape his estimation. As he noted, a Los Angeles-based NBA team hadn't gone up for bidding "in more than three decades." With no shortage of super-wealthy suitors reportedly lining up to make an offer, this seemed to be, as Kahn had correctly called it, "the Sale of the Century for the NBA."

It appears to have since gone down exactly how Kahn imagined it.

James Rainey of the Los Angeles Times first reported that former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had reached an agreement Thursday night to purchase the Clippers for $2 billion:

ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne confirmed the agreement, adding that it would be sent to the league office for approval:

Ballmer also released a statement saying, "I will be honored to have my name submitted to the NBA Board of Governors for approval as the next owner of the Los Angeles Clippers."

Kahn almost hit the apparent purchase price on the head. A Timberwolves fan might say it was Kahn's first correct guess in a long time.

Minnesota went just 89-223 during Kahn's four-year tenure, which came to an end last May.

"There's nothing everyone in the NBA agrees on, except perhaps that David Kahn was horrible at his job," ESPN.com's Henry Abbott wrote. "His mistakes were many and public."

Under Kahn's watch, the Wolves burned top-six picks on Jonny Flynn (drafted one spot ahead of Stephen Curry), Wesley Johnson (DeMarcus Cousins was taken next) and Derrick Williams (with players like Jonas Valanciunas, Klay Thompson and Kawhi Leonard on the board).

Jim Mone/Associated Press

Kahn oversaw the Kevin Love contract fiasco in January of 2012, which resulted in the perennial All-Star inking a four-year deal with an escape clause after three instead of the five-year deal Love desired. The executive traded Ty Lawson to the Denver Nuggets for a draft pick that later became Luke Babbitt. Kahn gave former draft bust Darko Milicic a four-year, $20 million deal in 2010, then waived him via the amnesty clause two years later.

Kahn's track record is littered with missteps, but at least he can say he's better than most at predicting NBA purchase prices. That has to be worth something, right?