Gerard may be showing good news judgment in not rushing into covering the apparent trade of Kevin Garnett to the Celtics; the deal reported by the Boston Globe as being in the “serious discussion” stage this AM and currently being reported by the AP as actually happening does not rhyme with the one being reported by Marc Stein at ESPN, by the fairly wide margin of a backup forward and a couple of first-round picks. Either way, it seems like there’s something going on here. Because I like him the most, I’ll run Steinski’s version of the deal; to stack it up with the deal the AP is reporting, click one of the above links or subtract Ryan Gomes and the two picks from the deal. Then divide by Troy Hudson’s album sales.
Multiple sources told ESPN.com on Sunday night that former teammates Kevin McHale and Danny Ainge revived discussions of a deal that would end Garnett’s 12-season association with Minnesota by sending him to Ainge’s Celtics, with the Wolves believed to be getting back two of the assets McHale coveted most last month — Al Jefferson and Theo Ratliff’s expiring contract.
It’s believed that the latest incarnation of the deal also would have Minnesota acquiring youngsters Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair and Ryan Gomes. The salary-cap math involved would require both teams to account for Garnett’s $6.75 million trade kicker.
The Wolves would also receive a future first-round pick from Boston and take back the future first-round pick it sent to the Celtics in the Wally Szczerbiak-Ricky Davis trade in January 2006. (Minnesota still owes the Los Angeles Clippers one first-rounder as part of the Sam Cassell-Marko Jaric deal in the summer of 2005.)
The deal depends on Garnett backing off his well-chronicled unwillingness to play in Boston. Yet sources indicated late Sunday that Garnett was warming to the idea, raising hopes on both sides that the deal will finally go through.
There’s more Stein-ian detail in there, detailing the hows and whys of the Suns and Warriors dropping out of the Garnett sweepstakes. But while this doesn’t seem official yet, it does seem more likely than it has at any point prior. The newfound absence of KG-related pics from the Timberwolves official site doesn’t make it seem any less so. That can’t have been easy. I wonder how many season tickets that heavily retouched photo of Craig Smith is selling.
Generally, I leave the rumination to those above my hoops-wisdom station, but a couple of things strike me about this deal on first gloss. I love Garnett, he’s probably my favorite NBA player, and I’m sad to see him leave even though I have little vested emotional interest in the Wolves. He’s a one-of-a-kind player — none more loyal, none tougher, and historically speaking few have ever been more productive — and I 1) liked him with Minnesota and 2) will not like watching him push around my Nets.
Repercussion-wise, while I’m not exactly sure how the Celtics will fare with three superstars, a 20-year old point guard, and Brian Scalabrine as their first forward off the bench, it’s hard for me to imagine a way in which a team with three all-timers in its starting lineup doesn’t go deep in the NBA Playoffs, weak Eastern Conference or no. I know Doc Rivers isn’t the best coach, I know that they’re currently four players short of the minimum roster requirements and will be nearly $6 million over the cap from the three salaries of Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett alone. That doesn’t sound good, but if they’re willing to go the Dolan-ian extra mile and pick up the right complimentary guys (or even get the best of the marginal free agents left for the signing — Matt Barnes: holler) they’ll have compiled a pretty good roster.
For a fantasy basketball team, that is. They have three big-time stars, two of whom absolutely require 20-plus shots per game (Allen and Pierce), and an inexperienced point guard with a rookie backup (Smilin’ Gabe Pruitt: you have not been traded). They’ve clearly got faith in Rondo, and everything I’ve seen of him says it’s not misplaced. But that roster seems weirdly top-heavy to me, and it’s oddly easy for me to see it not working. If it’s possible for a team with three potential Hall of Famers not to make the NBA Finals — and I think it is — then these could be your dudes. There’s probably an extension for Garnett in the deal, but if things don’t work, and Garnett opts out next summer, then the C’s just traded everything promising about their team for one shot at an NBA title. And I thought Mormons didn’t gamble.
Also, the Timberwolves basically turn into the ’06-07 Celtics, except with Mark Madsen filling Scalabrine’s role and, uh, Ricky Davis in the Paul Pierce veteran-go-to-scorer role. Lots of young talent up there, though. Early polling of my Minnesota friends reveals depression at the departure of the beloved star they — and no one else, to my knowledge — call “The Pharaoh” and relief that McHale seems to have managed a pretty good haul in exchange. (Such is their faith in McHale that Ben Polk wrote to me: “I’m just glad McHale didn’t draft John Cougar Mellencamp this year. I heard he was thinking about it after hearing “Jack and Diane” in the car on the way home from a game.”) One certainty: I will need to do a fairly extensive rewrite of the Celtics ’07-08 team preview I filed for Athlon last week.