August 5, 2007
Thank You, Kevin McHale
When someone writes "The Kevin McHale Story: Minnesota Years," there is going to be a continuing theme: the name of Danny Ainge.
Ainge, of course, goes back a long way with McHale and the two remain close. But boy, has Danny really fleeced his buddy in the two deals made between the Celtics and Timberwolves, so much so that Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Jim Souhan wrote, "McHale waited until he couldn't cut a deal with anybody other than his old buddy, Danny Ainge, the Celtics' GM, who, without a former teammate to take his roster refuse, might have eclipsed McHale as the worst general manager in the NBA."
Ainge has dumped nine players on McHale in the last 18 months. Nine! And we're not talking the '71-72 Lakers roster. ("They ought to retire his number again," e-mailed one reader.) Three of the four players Ainge got in return were top-six draft picks. None of the nine he gave up was a top-12 draft pick. He got McHale to take clubhouse problems Mark Blount and Ricky Davis, and then pried Kevin Garnett away with the potential of Al Jefferson and four other maybes, one of whom has an unfortunate history with firearms.
And in those deals McHale gave up the two players who basically came to epitomize Minnesota basketball this decade: Garnett and Wally Szczerbiak. No wonder McHale was getting hammered - again - in the Twin Cities. Wrote Tom Powers of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, "The sun will come up tomorrow. Unless, of course, Kevin McHale is somehow put in charge of the solar system. In which case the sun will implode and we all will die." Ainge said his relationship with McHale had nothing to do with either deal. You believe that? I don't.