Wednesday , Aug , 01 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

The Kevin Garnett Deal: It Had to Happen

In the immortal words of Don Vito Corleone, “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

That phrase has never suggested what one would consider to be a ‘good’ deal; what it does suggest, however, is a set of circumstances in which any deal is ‘good’, a situation where any move is the right one, simply because a move has to be made. So in the case of the Minnesota Timberwolves trading away Kevin Garnett, a perennial all-star and franchise player, for one potential laden star and a sack of magic beans, I can’t think of a more appropriate phrase.

The Kevin Garnett Deal: It Had to Happen

The simple truth is Kevin Garnett was going to be traded. He had to be traded. If anything, he should have been traded sooner. The ideal time wouldn’t have been months or weeks ago, but a couple of seasons ago, when it was apparent the Timberwolves had gone as far as they were going to go with KG, and at a time when he could have been exchanged for a marquee player of equal value. But of course what was in doubt then had become undeniably clear at the start of this offseason – Kevin Garnett was going to be traded, no matter what.

Whether you think that decision on the part of Minnesota’s management was wise or moronic seems beside the point now; it’s hard enough to judge the merit and benefit of a trade for two teams under normal circumstances, considering that getting value was secondary to just shipping KG off somewhere, judging this trade under a normal light seems impossible. Nonetheless, the sheer magnitude of the deal demands we try.

For the record, I would like to state I do believe this deal is absolutely ludicrous. Not because it isn’t a good deal for Boston (it’s a tremendous deal for Boston), and not even because I think it’s a bad deal for Minnesota (trust me, it’s not that bad), but because for Minnesota it was the ultimate example of an offer they couldn’t refuse. A deal where the value gained or lost wasn’t the deciding factor, but instead the repercussions of non-action forced the move. KG had to be dealt. His stay in Minnesota, as good as it was, wasn’t going to produce a championship, ever. It wasn’t even going to produce that measly third playoff series win. In that situation, the worst thing you can do for your team and its fans is not to make a bad move (although that’s generally frowned upon), but to make no move at all, to sit idly by, satisfied with mediocrity. KG had to be dealt.

What’s done is done. The deal got pulled. And in the course of about a day we went from hearing and reading the unconfirmed reports, to seeing what we thought we’d never see, Kevin Garnett holding up a uniform that didn’t have T’Wolves on it, that didn’t have 21 on it. We saw KG standing between Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, the three of them forming a legitimate trio of superstar players – Boston’s new big three.

This deal did get done, whether folks in Minnesota, or anywhere else approve of it or not. And it is going to have a big impact on the league.

I have to make this clear, I don’t exactly think Minnesota got completely swindled here. They got a bucket load of young players, some of which may even turn out to be useful, and additionally they got a couple of first round draft picks. Specifically, the Timberwolves received Boston’s 2009 first round pick and the first rounder that was send over to Boston in the Wally Szczerbiak/Ricky Davis swap.

More importantly, the T’Wolves got Al Jefferson, the consolation prize in all this. And trust me, folks in Minnesota won’t be disappointed. In his third season in the league, Jefferson averaged 16 points and 11 boards, playing 33 minutes per game as the second option to Paul Pierce. In Minnesota, it’s a given that Jefferson will be the go-to option offensively, which could mean the occasional growing pains, but for the most part I expect this young big man to flourish in his increased role. It wouldn’t be out of the question to see Jefferson put up 20 and 12 numbers this season.

In addition to Jefferson, the T’Wolves also picked up a few other talented young players in Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, and Sebastian Telfair. I’m not sure what, if anything, Telfair is going to bring to the Timberwolves, but Gomes and Green could both develop into decent players.

What does all this mean for the Timberwolves? Well I’ll tell you what it doesn’t mean, it doesn’t mean they’ll be making the playoffs, not this year anyway. But they will be slightly better than what some people might expect. And in a couple of years, if their young pieces develop nicely, they may just have a shot at some postseason run. For now however, they’re simply going to have to live with the move they made.

So often when a team makes a trade, even one deemed ‘blockbuster’, we’re quick to note, “This deal makes them better, but it still doesn’t make them a contender.” While I’m not about to make any crazy predictions here, it’s safe to say the Celtics’ odds of emerging out of the East just took an astronomical leap in their favor. This move, along with the deal to bring in Ray Allen, has made the Celtics an instant contender, at least in the East. And quite honestly, with a premier big man like Garnett, Boston has also positioned themselves to deal with a Duncan, or Nowitzki, or Stoudemire, should they be so fortunate as to face a big time Western opponent in the Finals.

A deal for Kevin Garnett is exactly why the term blockbuster trade was invented, it’s the kind of move that demands our attention, because it shifts power significantly. With Ray Allen and Garnett now in place along with the once very lonely Paul Pierce, the Celtics finally seem to be respectable again.

Detroit and Cleveland obviously still have to be considered favorites out East, and even the young Bulls have to be mentioned, but the fact is, the Celtics have now brought themselves into the conversation. Boston now employs the best big man in the conference, and one of the best perimeter tandems in the league. I’m certainly not one to hand them a ticket to the Finals just yet, but someone might want to start reserving them a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals just to be safe.

While Kevin McHale is being blasted in Minnesota, Danny Ainge can only be praised in Boston. He’s done exactly what he’s supposed to do – make the team better. Ainge didn’t just make the team a little better, he’s made a couple of moves that have pulled the Celtics out of the mired bottom dweller status and turned them into guaranteed playoff material, and maybe more than that.

Danny Ainge made the best deal he possibly could. He took a look at the options available to him around the league, found a team that simply had to make a move, and found a way to bring over marquee talent without moving Allen or Pierce. As for how this turns out for Minnesota, in the aftermath of their inevitable trade of KG, I don’t know. It could turn out well for them.

But as for the Celtics, it’s clear they have taken a huge step up. They got Kevin Garnett. The Celtics made the T’Wolves an offer they couldn’t refuse.