According to the Associated Press, the Minnesota Timberwolves have reportedly agreed in principal to a trade that will send All-Star forward Kevin Garnett to the Boston Celtics in exchange for several players. The Celtics are set to send Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, Theo Ratliff, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair, and at least one first-round draft pick to the Timberwolves. The deal is in place, subject to league approval, and is likely to become official some time later today.
Garnett, 31, has spent his entire NBA career in Minnesota. Minnesota drafted Garnett 5th overall in the 1995 NBA Draft out of Farragut Academy High School in Illinois. Since then, he has grown from being called “Da Kid” to “The Big Ticket.” His individual accomplishments over his 12-year career make him one of the NBA’s most elite and versatile players.
The ten-time All-Star, eight-time All-NBA selection, and 2003-04 League MVP has produced gaudy career averages— 20.5 ppg, 11.4 rpg (8.6 defensive), 1.7 bpg, 4.5 apg, and 49.1 FG%. Last season, he led the league in rebounding and registered a record ninth consecutive season averaging at least 20 ppg, 10 rpg, and 4 apg. He has boasted one of the best resumes for personal achievements, including in the playoffs (47 games, 22.3 ppg, 13.4 rpg, 5.0 apg, 1.9 bpg, 1.3 spg).
However, KG’s team experience in Minnesota has been quite a different story.
In recent years, many of the NBA’s pundits have criticized Garnett for showing blind allegiance to a franchise that has done little to help him out and surround him with talent worthy enough to make a legitimate playoff run. Garnett has been ridiculed as a one-man show on a poorly managed club that has failed to make the playoffs in the last three 3 seasons.
The Timberwolves were bounced in the first round of the playoffs in seven straight seasons from the 1996-97 season (Garnett’s second year) to the 2002-03 season. Other than the 2003-04 season when the Timberwolves made it to the Western Conference Finals (lost to the Lakers 4-2), Minnesota has never been able to get over the hump and has been a consistent playoff bust.
With the trade, Garnett will join five-time All-Star guard/forward Paul Pierce and newly acquired seven-time All-Star guard Ray Allen (who was actually traded by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 1996 NBA draft to the Milwaukee Bucks for the 4th pick, Stephon Marbury). Last month, Garnett nixed a deal with Boston, but has since softened his stance after the Celtics were able to make a draft day trade for Allen sending Jeff Green to Seattle. Finally, Garnett and Allen will have the chance to team up, along with Pierce to make the Celtics into an instant contender in a perennially weak Eastern Conference.
Garnett, who is represented by Andy Miller, was the NBA’s highest-paid player last season at $21 million and is slated to be the highest paid again next season at $22 million. He also has an option that he can exercise after the 2008-09 season at $24 million. I’m sure the Celtics will happily take over his current contract and Miller will welcome a trade as Garnett has a trade kicker in his contract that will pay him $6.8 million when the trade is finalized.
I am glad to see Garnett finally get out of the trap he was in for the last 3 seasons in Minnesota. On paper, the Celtics appear as though they have a chance to revitalize a franchise, which has won a record 16 NBA Championships.
Maybe this blockbuster trade will allow Celtic fans to move on and finally put to rest the painful memories of the past that have led to the franchise’s decline. Len Bias’ cocaine overdose after the 1986 NBA Draft and Dunbar High School legend Reggie Lewis’ tragic death in 1993 stifled the Celtics rebuilding efforts and have haunted the franchise for years.
I am confident that things will turn around for the best when Garnett arrives in Beantown.
You can bet that Red Auerbach is smoking a cigar in celebration, wherever he is.