Ainge and McHale in Talks for a Ticket?

June 21, 2007

The process still is far from complete, but a league source indicated last night the Celtics were in discussions for a deal that would bring Minnesota star Kevin Garnett to Boston.

``There's a good chance nothing happens,'' the source cautioned, ``but the talks seem to be ongoing. Neither side seems willing to drop this.''

It was further indicated that if such a deal goes down, it would indeed involve both Al Jefferson and the Celtics' No. 5 overall pick in next week's draft.

Celtics director of basketball operations Danny Ainge admitted earlier this week to the Herald that he had discussed a deal for Garnett with Timberwolves counterpart Kevin McHale. When reached last night, Ainge said he is not commenting on any trade rumors.

Reacting to the Herald story yesterday in Minneapolis, McHale said any trade talk involving Garnett so far has been just that - talk.

``Who knows what's going to happen?'' McHale said after the Wolves worked out college stars Jeff Green and Al Horford in preparation for next week's draft. ``But we're not out there actively shopping Kevin Garnett around the NBA. I can tell you that much.''

The Celtics are said to still be mulling over the pros and cons of the deal. A plus is the opportunity to take a giant step in an Eastern Conference race that would appear to be fairly wide open next season. On the downside, the Celtics would be trading away a player nine years Garnett's junior in Jefferson, who is coming off a breakout season just three years out of high school.

It is not yet known what other pieces would be involved in the deal to make it work financially, but one can assume Theo Ratliff's expiring contract could be part of the mix.

Garnett can opt out of his contract after next season, meaning the Timberwolves run the risk of losing him without compensation if they don't trade him before then and he tires of not playing on a competitive team. That has ramped up speculation that he could be on the move.

A key part of the transaction would be the Celts knowing Garnett wants to make the move.

Garnett, who turned 31 on May 19, is an eight-time All-NBA selection and a 10-time All-Star. He averaged 22.4 points, 12.8 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game for Minnesota last season.

Jefferson, a first-round pick by the C's in 2004, averaged 16.0 points, 11.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists last season.

In the past, McHale has completely dismissed questions of Garnett's availability, including after last season when he said emphatically, ``We're not going to trade Kevin Garnett.'' Now, McHale is qualifying those remarks.

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