For Timberwolves, is this how it all ends?
MINNEAPOLIS - Is this how an era ends? In 12 seasons Kevin Garnett has gone from "Da Kid" to the "Big Ticket." Along the way: 927 games, 19,041 points, 10,542 rebounds and many, many millions of dollars. But now, it appears, Garnett could now get...
MINNEAPOLIS - Is this how an era ends?
In 12 seasons Kevin Garnett has gone from "Da Kid" to the "Big Ticket." Along the way: 927 games, 19,041 points, 10,542 rebounds and many, many millions of dollars. But now, it appears, Garnett could now get a one-way ticket to Boston.
The Timberwolves, from owner Glen Taylor to Kevin McHale, vice president of basketball operations, are keeping quiet. But numerous other outlets - many of them based in Boston - have reported that a five-for-one mega-deal between the Celtics and Timberwolves has essentially been agreed upon.
The final, most difficult hurdle could be issues regarding Garnett's contract.
Here is the ransom the best player in Timberwolves history will reportedly bring: Players Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair and Theo Ratliff and two first-round draft choices. According to multiple reports, those picks include Boston's first-round pick in 2009 and the first-rounder the Wolves still owe the Celtics for their first mega-deal, which occurred in the middle of the 2005-06 season.
If this all sounds familiar, it is. In the pre-draft frenzy of trade rumors, the strongest had the Wolves dealing Garnett to Boston in a package that would also have included the Celtics' first-round draft pick, No. 5 overall.
Even Taylor has said that deal was close to being completed, but it was scuttled when Andy Miller, Garnett's agent, said his client didn't want to go to Boston.
That, apparently, has changed.
The Celtics have become a more attractive destination since the trade that brought guard Ray Allen to Boston from Seattle. Indeed, one source indicated that Allen, who shares South Carolina roots with Garnett, played a big role in convincing Garnett to come to Boston. The combination of Garnett and Allen, along with current Celtics star Paul Pierce would give the Celtics a trio of All-Stars, a nucleus that would instantly become a force in the watered-down Eastern Conference.
Miller didn't return calls for comment Monday, but he told the Boston Globe that the two sides were talking, a strong indication that Garnett is open to the move.
A few complications
Reportedly the only obstacles left standing in the way of the deal is the re-working of Garnett's contract, which calls for him to be paid $22 million this season and has a player option worth $23 million next season. The contract also includes a trade kicker worth about $6.75 million. The Celtics, according to the Boston Herald, have reached an agreement in principle on a contract extension. Presumably the Celtics would like Garnett to waive a portion of the trade kicker in any multi-year deal. Garnett is reportedly on an ocean cruise, which could complicate matters even more.
"I believe both teams are still in the process of discussing a trade for (Garnett) . . . ," Celtics spokesman Jeff Twiss said Monday afternoon. "The league must review and approve of all contracts and trade proposals."
If completed, the trade would feature two teams with vastly different agendas. The Celtics, in a relatively weak conference, would be making the move for the present, teaming three established players, all over 30.
The Wolves? They would be saying goodbye to an icon while clearly building for the future. If the deal were to go through as reported, the Wolves would be left with a roster that includes nine players aged 24 or younger.
Big shoes to fill
By all accounts Jefferson, a 6-10 forward, is the key to a potential deal from the Wolves perspective. He had a breakthrough season in 2006-07 - his third in the league - averaging 16 points and 11 rebounds.
But no combination of players is likely to fill Garnett's shoes, at least not immediately.
Garnett joined the team on June 28, 1995, out of Chicago's Farragut Career Academy as the first player in 20 years to go directly from high school to the NBA.
He joined a team coming off its fourth consecutive 60-loss season. But in his second season, the Wolves secured their first playoff berth ever, the first of eight consecutive trips to the postseason. Garnett, a 10-time NBA All-Star, was MVP of the All-Star game in 2003.
There is no question he changed the game. His success opened the door for other high school players to move directly into the NBA. And the six-year, $125 million contract he signed on Oct. 1, 1997, also was ground-breaking. It was a record deal for a professional athlete in any team sport, a contract that has often been credited with leading to the lockout during the 1998-99 season.
In 2004, with a team that included Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell, the Wolves made it to the Western Conference finals, losing to the Lakers in six games. Garnett had his best season that year as well, earning league MVP honors, averaging 24.2 points and 13.9 rebounds per game.
Postseason dry spell
But the Wolves have not made the postseason since. The 2004-05 season was marred by contract disputes with both Cassell and Sprewell and ended with McHale on the bench coaching after Flip Saunders was fired. Under first-year coach Dwane Casey, the Wolves struggled to a 33-49 record in a season that featured a multi-player, mid-year deal with Boston. Last season the Wolves again finished out of the playoffs, with Casey being fired and Randy Wittman taking over.
Garnett would leave as just the 12th player in NBA history with at least 15,000 points, 8,000 rebounds and 3,000 assists.
"Never, in any scenario, could I have imagined that Kevin Garnett would leave Minnesota," said Wolves teammate Mark Madsen, who, like everyone, was awaiting word whether the deal had been completed. "Kevin loves Minnesota, he loves the Twin Cities. I know this for a fact, he's told me that many times. But this is how the business works."