McHale Discusses KG and the Grassy Knoll Rumors


McHale Discusses KG and the Grassy Knoll Rumors

MINNEAPOLIS - Did you hear the one about how Kevin McHale traded Kevin Garnett to the Celtics just because he liked Danny Ainge?

McHale did - and he's still laughing.

Put aside for the moment that no one could possibly like the Celtics director of basketball operations enough to just give him a future Hall of Famer, there are some logistical issues that would preclude such a covert operation.

``First of all, I have an owner,'' McHale said yesterday. ``Then on my staff I have like seven guys. So for that whole thing to happen, it would have had to be, `OK, this is what we're doing because we like Danny, but you can't tell the owner that.'

``Yeah, like that could ever happen. Are you kidding me? We sat down and put every offer on the board, then hashed them and rehashed them. We went over it 5,000 times, and the one constant that kept coming up was that at 22, Al (Jefferson) was the best anchor piece that we could get. That's what it came down to.''

The criticism and the cracks?

``I just laughed at all that stuff,'' said McHale, sitting beside the Timberwolves practice floor in a team sweatshirt and khaki shorts.

``I actually found it hilarious. It's funny to think there are people who think the business is run like you're running a good-old-boy network at a country club. Right.''

There is, however, one part of the deal's aftermath that removed the smile from McHale's face.

``And I'll put this on the record,'' Minnesota's vice president said. ``I've never seen teams lie more after a big deal to try to pacify their fans and say, `Well, we offered all this.' I can tell you that I read three or four things that said a source high up in Organization X said they offered this, this and this. I wish they had. Then we might have had more competition in the deal. But it just wasn't true. People came out after the trade and said Boston didn't give up anything.

``For me, I can either call those organizations out on the carpet and say they're all lying. Or you can just shake your head like I normally do and just go, `Wow, people are really insecure.' ''

At this stage of his life, security - financial or otherwise - is not an issue for McHale.

``I'm not worried about looking good (from the trade) so I can get another job,'' he said. ``My next job is hunting and fishing.''

And he doesn't go hunting with Dick Cheney, so the shots he took were easy to survive.

``A long time ago I came to the conclusion that I wasn't nearly as good as people said I was or nearly as bad as people said I was,'' McHale said. ``I'm just who I am.''

Odd as it may have seemed to some, the decision to move Garnett was born of financial logic. The Wolves weren't winning with their high-priced star, and Garnett's contract was making it hard to build a quality team around him. Something had to give - and owner Glen Taylor had tired of giving for such modest return.

As McHale recalls, ``The owner one day said, `This is the direction I'm going to go in,' and I said, `Yeah.' Hey, it's his money. You work for him. But I looked at Glen and said, `Yeah, I think it is time for us to move in a new direction.' So it wasn't like I was completely against it.

``Actually it was pretty easy once we made the decision. It was more difficult being a 51-, 52-, 53-win team and not being able to get over the hump. We were a good team, but it was hard for us to get better with the financial situation that we were in. With Kevin signing prior to the new agreement, it was tough.''

Things haven't been as tough around the Wolves' offices lately, as wins have started to trickle in - evidence that McHale may not have been completely out of his mind last July.

``Look, I took over a team that won 21 games and it didn't have nearly the character or the quality of kids that we have right now,'' said McHale, whose 10-37 club entertains the Celtics tonight. ``So I don't think there's any doubt that this building process is a lot further along. We went from 21 to 58 in that stretch and then we just got to the point with a lot of other issues that we decided we were probably going to have to go make a change.''

Sound thinking, perhaps, but not nearly as funny as the Ainge joke.

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