6.30.2008

McHale Weighs in on Banner 17, KG Trade

--Minneapolis Star Tribune

Timberwolves boss Kevin McHale congratulated Boston General Manager Danny Ainge by telephone one day after the Celtics won their 17th NBA championship. The two already were linked as former Celtics teammates. Now they also will be known for making the trade that brought Kevin Garnett to Boston.

McHale and Ainge were Celtics teammates the last time Boston had won a title, in 1986.

McHale also expressed happiness for Kevin Garnett, who spent 12 ultimately unfulfilling seasons with the Wolves, and maintained the team did the right thing by trading Garnett to Boston last summer for five players, including young star Al Jefferson, and two future draft picks.

"I'm happy with the direction we went in," McHale said after he watched potential draft picks work out at Target Center Wednesday. "The (contract) extension that Kevin was looking for -- $20 million for three years, a $60 million deal -- just was not going to happen. Glen (Wolves owner Glen Taylor) just was not comfortable doing that. When you get to that point, you say, 'If we're not going to sign him, we better trade him.' I thought that was the best deal by far, and I still think that."

At his season-ending news conference in April, somebody asked McHale if he would accept a championship ring if the Celtics won the title. He said no. When Larry Bird participated in an NBA media conference before the NBA Finals began, the first questioner asked Bird if he thought McHale traded Garnett to the Celtics rather than the Los Angeles Lakers because of the fierce rivalry between the teams. Bird, who had earlier proclaimed McHale to be the league's MVP for having made the Garnett trade, now characterizes the transaction as even-handed.

"That's people's perception," McHale said, shrugging. "If you think I went to seven guys on my staff and said, 'let's tell Glen this is a better deal so we can get Garnett to the Celtics and screw the Lakers,' and if you think I made that deal in an afternoon over coffee, well, you don't know much about the business of basketball. That deal went on for like a month and a half. That's just how things work. Everyone had their say. It's a business, man."

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