The Garnett Trade in the Papers

June 2007

We have a pretty good idea by now that the Kevin Garnett-to-Boston deal had legs. Only Garnett's adamant refusal to play in Boston (or re-sign with Boston) killed the deal.

The next name that surfaced was Shawn Marion of the Suns, mainly because Phoenix was trying to cut payroll and Marion was deemed the most expendable of the team's big three (the first two being Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire). That proposal never got real far, either, according to Suns coach Mike D'Antoni.

"You have to look at everything when you are in the position we were," D'Antoni said. "But they [ownership/management] never came to me and said, 'What do you think?' Because it never got that far. We never sat down, basketball-wise, and said, 'Are we sure about this?' Marion said rumors of his not wanting to play in Boston were just that: "You never heard me say it, did you? It was all rumors."


Now that Draft Day has come and gone, the Celts still aren't sure whether to close the door on a trade for Kevin Garnett, though Minnesota was looking for the fifth pick, as well as Al Jefferson, to make the deal work before the Celtics dealt that pick for Ray Allen last night. One source says Ainge and McHale are still talking.


It does appear that the Celtics will continue to explore deals and were, in fact, doing so last night.There were some involved who believe the club will again explore the possibility of prying Kevin Garnett from Minnesota.


Kevin Garnett is still a Minnesota Timberwolf. Starting Sunday, look for the offers to resurface for the Timberwolves All-Star. The question has to be asked: Will the Celtics be back in the chase?

One of the most important non-components of the Ray Allen deal was who was not involved. That would be Theo Ratliff, whose attractive, expiring contract is still on the Boston books. That was almost good enough to get Garnett a week ago, along with, ahem, Al Jefferson and assorted flotsam and jetsam. Would the Celtics do the same deal? Would the Timberwolves?

For those of you dreaming of an Allen-Garnett-Paul Pierce triumvirate, there are a few entanglements, starting with the reason the deal was killed in the first place: Garnett's desire not to play in Boston. He was unambiguous about not only not playing in Boston, but that his preferred destination be Phoenix. (Somehow, we think he wouldn't object to the Lakers.)

Would Garnett have the same sentiment now that he knows Ray Allen is in Boston along with Pierce and, perhaps just as critical, Wally Szczerbiak is no longer in Boston? We'll have to wait and see.


Garnett could resurface as a possible addition, with the courtship of the Timberwolves forward beginning. The addition of Allen could make Garnett look at the Celtics' situation differently than before the draft, when he was reluctant to join Pierce and a collection of young talent.

Of course, there is the distinct possibility that the Celtics are not yet done. Makes sense. Maybe they still can get Kevin Garnett and storm the Eastern Conference with fossils Pierce, Allen, and Garnett. Maybe we'd all be OK with that. But it flies in the face of "the plan" they've pitched. And it strikes one as a major gamble. Because if they don't get Garnett, if this really is it ... the Celtics look ridiculous.

Cooz was Equally Underwhelmed

"I didn't want them to make any trades," mused the first great Celtic. "I don't have that kind of confidence in aging free agents, especially guys like Garnett or Allen who haven't won anything. Arnold [Red Auerbach to you] did that effectively when he brought in players like Willie Naulls, Carl Braun, Dave Bing, and Pete Maravich. They'd come here and play 12 minutes a game and grab a ring. But you've got to get lucky to have a Garnett come in and break his tail at 31 or 32 years old. I would rather have seen them continue with the youth movement and take the kid from China."


The Minnesota Timberwolves, contrary to their public comments, have been shopping Kevin Garnett from coast to coast.


And as crazy as it may seem, the Celts may still be leaving the porch light on for Kevin Garnett. There appears to be no chance Ainge will sleep until he sees the Timberwolves star in another uniform.



"I can't talk about him because he's not a free agent. There's a chance [of another big-name player coming in], but I don't want to get people's hopes up. We're not sitting there relying on it. We're still trying to work some things out but we think we have a good team right now. I think we can win the East next year. I believe we have had a major upgrade to a team that was a 36- to 40-win team last year if everyone stayed healthy.

McHale Likes the Ray Allen Trade

Kevin McHale admits up front that his friendship with Danny Ainge colors his opinions of the Celtics' moves. The Timberwolves' boss also has some bias in favor of the Western Conference - which leads him to believe that the Celtics' acquisition of Ray Allen could produce big things in the weaker half of the NBA.

``The Eastern Conference has a lot of bad teams in it,'' said McHale. ``As a matter of fact, they sent a bad team (Cleveland) to the NBA Finals. I mean, the top teams in the East wouldn't fare very well in the West. It's been like that for a while. Miami came in and won, and then you had Detroit win a couple of years ago, but, you know, in a seven-game series anything can happen.''

As such, McHale thinks it's quite possible that getting Allen from Seattle could produce results beyond the general expectation.

``I think Ray Allen is going to help,'' McHale said. ``Ray Allen can flat-out shoot the damn ball. He's a game-changer in the fact that he can get it rolling on the offensive in a big way.

``He and (Paul) Pierce at the 2 and 3 are potentially as potent as any twosome in the Eastern Conference. The 2 and 3 are key positions in our league right now. . . . So they're going to be strong at two positions you really need to be strong at to score in our league now.''


Celtics fans, you can forget all about those crushed dreams and visions of Greg Oden and Kevin Durant in Celtics green. And don't you dare shed a tear about the loss of Al Jefferson.


OK, now we're talking.

A week and a half ago, Danny Ainge and I were debating the merits of the Ray Allen deal. He was trying to convince me Allen was a sniper who took such excellent care of himself, he would be burying game-winning jumpers well into his late 30s. I countered with statistical evidence that very few shooting guards in the history of the league have flourished after the age of 32, and, according to the calendar, Allen already had reached that bench mark.

Ainge believed Allen would make his team significantly better. It sure looked to me like all Allen would do was elevate Boston into a fifth seed in the playoffs, and since when was that the goal? The Celtics' head of basketball operations insisted his team would be infinitely more exciting and more competitive this season, but I wasn't buying it.

I am now.

The acquisition of Kevin Garnett changes everything. Suddenly, pro basketball matters again in Boston. Suddenly, the networks will sit up, rub the sleep out of their eyes, and start looking for places to plug the Celtics into their national schedule.


Last summer, when the Celtics were lusting after Allen Iverson, a team executive pondered the potential effects of such a move and, with eyes wide open, offered the operative word from management's point of view: ``Relevance.''

Thirteen months later, the term as it relates to the club has become nauseating. It is now repeated with such alarming frequency that it seems as if its meaning is lost.

If Garnett has a jeweled shamrock championship ring on his finger as he sips his post-career California cocktail, Ainge will have no problem getting a tee time at The Country Club. If not, you'll be hitting him over the head with Al Jefferson on his way back to Arizona.

The judgment will be stark. When history looks back on this time, the only relevant question will be whether the Celtics won.

LA Mourns

A deal would also end the long chase for Garnett by suitors eyeing his 2008 opt-out, starting with the Lakers.

After years of speculation that Garnett, who has a summer home in Malibu, wanted to play here, this off-season the Lakers offered Bynum and Odom to the Timberwolves for Garnett, then put them in a four-way deal with Minnesota, Boston and Indiana.

But McHale turned down the Lakers offer, reportedly because Odom has two years worth almost $28 million left on his contract.

LAKERS FANS have been waiting for this for years, and it looks as if Kevin Garnett is going to be traded.

To Boston.


I don't know if it was because he had a home in Malibu -- and how many times have we been reminded of that -- a cousin playing for the Lakers or he grew up idolizing Magic Johnson, but most Lakers fans took it for granted Garnett would one day be wearing purple and gold.

Instead, it will be Celtic green.

Again, ugh.

1 comment:

The Kid said...

Man Bob Cousy sure was wrong.

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