If I Did It…

NOTE: This article was started yesterday.  By the time the final touches and proof-reading were done, a lot of new developments had taken place.  There’s an update at the end addressing the new information.

By now we’ve all heard the rumors: Kevin Garnett to the Celtics or KG to the Suns.  The Wolves’ front office keeps telling us that those trades are exactly just that: rumors.  They’ve told us that they’re willing to listen to offers for Garnett but haven’t seriously considered any of them.  They’ve told us they have no interest in trading KG. 

Sorry, but I just don’t believe that’s true. 

[image] if i did it
I’m not saying I’d do it, but if I did it… [image2]

[ad2] I’ve been hearing Kevin Garnett trade rumors for years.  Ever since the Wolves began to make first round playoff exits an annual event, people have constantly been scheming up ways to turn Garnett into the NBA version of Andy Dufresne and “help him escape”.  But never, ever have the rumors been swirling around like this.  I believe this increased chatter is directly correlated to the fact that there have been some serious talks going on regarding KG’s future with the Wolves.  But the main reason that I believe a deal for Garnett is in the works is not because of the huge amount of hype.  It’s because the Minnesota Timberwolves would be absolute morons to not take a long, hard, serious look at what Garnett could fetch on the market. 

If the Wolves are going to trade Garnett the deal HAS to done before the draft.  There is no “wait and see” anymore.  The front office has to make a decision about the path this franchise will take for the next five years, push their chips to the center of the table and go “all in”.  The time to trade Garnett is not after everyone has made their draft choices and the Wolves have to wait for 2008 picks in return.  It’s not 20 games into the season when the move will disrupt the team’s chemistry.  It’s not at the trade deadline when they’ll get 40 cents on the dollar for him.  And it’s absolutely not next summer when he opts out and leaves this team with no compensation. 

The Wolves have two options:

1. Trade Garnett for picks and youngsters.  Develop the rookies over the next three years so that when they hit their stride, all the team’s bad contracts will be up.  Now you can start making real moves toward a championship. 

2. Keep Garnett, because he’s Kevin Garnett and the fans love him.  Let everyone enjoy watching him play out his career in a Wolves uniform and take solace in the fact that this team will always have a Hall of Famer to adore.  Who knows? Maybe 5-6 years down the road things will have changed and a title might be in the Wolves’ grasp.  But no matter what, we’ll always have the memories of Garnett’s career. 

Neither of those choices are easy to make, but there’s one scenario in which the right decision becomes extremely clear. Which is why the first thing the Wolves need to do is talk to KG.  They need to flat-out get his word on whether he’ll opt out if this team has another bad year.  If he can’t promise them he’ll stay, then they have to trade him.  With Utah and Denver in the 2007 playoffs and Oden and Durant heading to the Northwest, the Wolves have about a 20% of not finishing LAST in their division this year.  They have about a 3% of finishing higher than fourth.  In all likelihood, 2007-2008 will not be a good year for the Timberwolves. If KG’s intends to bolt if the Wolves have another bad year, then you can be pretty certain that KG is going to bolt.

If Garnett is determined to play out his career as a Wolf, no matter what, the front office now has a tough decision on their hands.  Do you respect his loyalty and decide to see this thing all the way through come hell or high water, or do you sell the heart and sole of your franchise for the hope of a better day?  From a basketball standpoint, it’s a no-brainer.  The Wolves are a complete mess and only a complete razing will put them back on the right path.  Having a huge crop of youth who will be hitting their peak just as Hudson, Jaric, Hassell, and Blount come off the books could make the Wolves a force come 2012.  Hanging onto Garnett pins the future on some hope that a miracle will fall into the Wolves’ laps and somehow turn this team around in the next 4-5 years. 

However, as a someone who’s watched Garnett bleed himself dry every game and has grown to love him over the past 12 years, making the smart basketball decision isn’t so easy.  After all, how much would a title mean when you had to put a knife in the back of your hero to win it?  And believe me, if Garnett wanted to stay, sending him to the Suns and handing him the 2008 title on a silver platter would still be stabbing him in the back.  Because I believe he knows, just like I do, that no title will ever mean as much as the love he gets from his fans in Minnesota.  Spending his career with the Wolves would make him a local legend along the lines of Kirby Puckett.  If Garnett stays, no matter how poorly the Wolves do, even if they never made the playoffs again, he’ll have a statue outside the Target Center and a jersey in the rafters nex to Malik Sealy’s.  Can you really compare that to a championship that no one will remember you won 30 years from now?

Like I said, unless Garnett tells you he’s going to bail, this is the hardest decision this franchise will ever make.  And it has to be made now.  I honestly don’t know what I’d do.  These past three seasons have been horrific.  Yet at the same time, thinking of Garnett in any jersey other than the Wolves’ makes me throw up in my mouth.  All those times I’ve put him through the trade machine were never serious.  They were for entertainment’s sake or a way to vent after some bad losses. For years, every time this subject was seriously brought up, I always said I’d stick it out with Garnett. I’ve said time and time again that I’d rather lose with him than win without him. But this time, with the gun to my head and it being a “now or never” situation, I really don’t know what I’d do.  I guess that with all the talk and possibilities, my mind has been able to process the situation more so that I can actually handle the thought of him leaving.  Or maybe things have just gotten so bad that they’ve pushed me to the point of giving up.  Maybe when it’s all on the line, I’m just too weak to show the loyalty that I’ve admired in Kevin Garnett all these years. 

I’m not saying that I’m ready for Garnett to go.  But a KG trade is definitely something I’ve thought long and hard about the past week or so.  In some ways, I despise myself for even flirting with the idea.  Yet on the other hand, how do you not at least consider it?  I can’t help but think what I would do if I were in Kevin McHales shoes.  Would I hold fast to everything that I’ve stood for this past decade?  Or would I play the role of Judas and sell-out KG for some draft picks? I’m really not sure what I would do.  But in the words of classic backstabber, “If I Did It, Here’s How…”

Garnett Trade

Minnesota Trades: Kevin Garnett

Minnesota Receives: Boris Diaw, Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff, Boston’s #5 2007 pick, Phoenix’s #24 2007 pick from Cleveland, Phoenix’s 2008 1st round unprotected pick from Atlanta, Phoenix’s 2008 1st round pick. 


Phoenix Trades: Boris Diaw, Shawn Marion, Phoenix’s #24 2007 pick from Cleveland, Phoenix’s 2008 1st round unprotected pick from Atlanta, Phoenix’s 2008 1st round pick.

Phoenix Receives: Kevin Garnett


Boston Trades: Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff, Boston’s #5 2007 pick

Boston Receives: Shawn Marion


Why Minnesota Trades: They get to clear a ton of salary and get four first rounders, two of which should be really good.  When you combine those picks with the Wolves #7 this year, their certain-to-be good 2008 pick, and their current nucleus of Foye, McCants, and Smith, Minnesota is well on its way to a solid rebuilding project heading into 2009. 

Why Phoenix Trades: Getting Kevin Garnett without giving up Stoudamire is a guaranteed of a title as you can get.  Does Phoenix really need those picks with a trio of Nash, KG, and Amare?  Nope.  Phoenix’s window is open NOW, and they’d be nuts to turn down that deal.

Why Boston Trades: Whoever they get with the #5 won’t be as good as Marion, who will be a nice teammate for Paul Pierce.  They basically give up nothing other than that pick and some financial help to obtain him. 


UPDATED:  Ok, so as I was putting up the finishing touches on this ideal trade scenario for the Wolves, which would actually benefit Phoenix and Boston as well, Shawn Marion has to go an throw a hissy-fit about going to Boston.  Seriously, where does this guy expect to end up?  He’s a total moron for complaining about being in Phoenix, which is the perfect team for him.  Anyway, apparently his unwillingness to wear green and white has killed the three-way aspect of this deal.  Boston’s worried about him opting out at the end of the year.  But the way I see it, the Celtics have got absolutely nothing to worry about.  Marion has 17 million coming to him in ‘08-09.  Do you really think he’s going to walk away from that?  He won’t fetch anywhere near that much on the open market, and his agent has got to know that.  Marion’s a good enough player to warrant Boston risking the #5 pick on him, especially when his hands are basically tied with his contract. But anyway, the trade above is apparently a dead end. Time to pursue other options…

…Especially since KG nixed an supposedly agreed-upon deal that would send him to Boston.  That right there pretty much says that the Garnett era in Minnesota is over. The front office apparently made the decision I was talking about above and now Garnett knows the Wolves tried to ship him out.  There’s no going back from here.  Any sense of loyalty that KG had to this franchise is likely gone and it’s time to move on.  So in the wake of Thursday’s aftermath, here are some new scenario’s I don’t like quite as much as the one above:


Option #2:


Trade KG to Phoenix for Amare, Diaw, a re-signed Kurt Thomas, and Phoenix’s 2008 1st round unprotected pick from Atlanta. 

Phoenix is hesistant to give up Stoudamire because he’s so much younger than KG.  But in all likelihood, Garnett and Amare’s careers will probably end around the same time.  As good as he looks, Stoudamire still has had micro-fracture surgery.  He’s also the type of player who’s game will fall to pieces as soon as he loses a step athletically.  When he can’t jump out of the gym any longer, how effective will he really be?  That’s why I liked the trade above which gave the Wolves three extra picks to play with.  This new trade will cost Phoenix a lot more than the one above.  The two key pieces are really Amare and Atlanta’s pick. Diaw should not be the deal breaker for the Wolves.  Take Eric Piatowski if it comes down to it. 

Why It Goes Down: The Wolves get some help with the rebuilding effort, and Phoenix will likely get its title if they hang onto Marion.


Option #3:


Minnesota Trades: Kevin Garnett

Minnesota Receives: A re-signed P.J. Brown (1 year deal), A re-signed Andres Noccioni, Leandro Barbosa, Chicago’s 2007 #9 pick, Phoenix’s 2007 #24 pick via Cleveland, Phoenix’s 2008 1st round unprotected pick from Atlanta


Phoenix Trades: Shawn Marion, Leandro Barbosa, Phoenix’s 2007 #24 pick via Cleveland, Phoenix’s 2008 1st round unprotected pick from Atlanta

Phoenix Receives: Kevin Garnett


Chicago Trades: A re-signed P.J. Brown (1 year deal), A re-signed Andres Noccioni, Chicago’s 2007 #9 pick

Chicago Recieves: Shawn Marion


Why Minnesota Trades: Three 1st round picks, Noccioni, and Barbosa will be solid additions to the rebuilding effort

Why Phoenix Trades: They’ll be the 2008 NBA Champs

Why Chicago Trades: Marion will be a big boost to helping them lose to Phoenix in the 2008 Finals


Option #4 – And believe me, this actually works under the cap even though Minnesota is taking less than 6 million back for KG’s 21 million dollar salary.  You gotta love Charlotte being 10 million under the cap!


Minnesota Trades: Kevin Garnett

Minnesota Recieives:  Boris Diaw, Brevin Knight, Charlotte’s #9 2007 1st rounder, Charlotte’s #22 2007 1st rounder via Toronto, Phoenix’s #24 2007 1st rounder via Cleveland, Phoenix’s 2008 1st round unprotected pick from Atlanta, Phoenix’s 2008 1st rounder. 


Phoenix Trades: Shawn Marion, Boris Diaw, Phoenix’s #24 2007 1st rounder via Cleveland, Phoenix’s 2008 1st round unprotected pick from Atlanta, Phoenix’s 2008 1st rounder. 

Phoenix Receives: Kevin Garnett


Charlotte Trades: Brevin Knight, Charlotte’s #9 2007 1st rounder, Charlotte’s #22 2007 1st rounder via Toronto

Charlotte Receives: Shawn Marion


Why the Wolves Trade:  Five first round picks!!!!!!  And I don’t believe for a second that either Phoenix or Charlotte is getting ripped off.  Remember, 3 of those picks will be in the 20’s.  Those worser picks would be good trading chips for the Wolves to use in other deals to ship off Jaric, Davis, and Hudson.  The rebuild would have offically begun!

Why Phoenix Trades: 2008 NBA Champions

Why Charlotte Trades:  The chances of getting anyone of Marion’s quality at #9 and #22 are very slim.  It would kill their cap room, so if they really balk they could take back the #22. That pick’s definitely not a deal-breaker. 


Option #5


Minnsota Trades: Kevin Garnett

Minnesota Receives: Leandro Barbosa, Sheldon Williams, Lorenzen Wright, Zaza Pachulia, Atlanta’s 2007 #3 pick, Phoenix’s 2008 1st round unprotected pick from Atlanta


Phoenix Trades: Shawn Marion, Leandro Barbosa, Phoenix’s #24 2007 pick via Cleveland, Phoenix’s 2008 1st round unprotected pick from Atlanta, Phoenix’s 2008 1st round pick

Phoenix Receives: Kevin Garnett


Atlanta Trades: Sheldon Williams, Lorenzen Wright, Zaza Pachulia, Atlanta’s #3 2007 pick

Atlanta Receives: Shawn Marion, Phoenix’s #24 2007 pick via Cleveland, Phoenix’s 2008 1st round pick


Why Minnesota Trades:  Sheldon Williams and Lorenzen Wright have expiring deals.  Zaza expires the next year.  They get two very good 1st round picks.

Why Phoenix Trades: 2008 Champions

Why Atlanta Trades: Marion is probably as good as whoever they’d get at #3.  He’s also ready to play right now.  How many youngsters can you have on one team?  Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Marvin Williams, and Shawn Marion are a nice nucleus. 

Note: Due to the rule that you can’t trade two consecutive picks, and Atlanta’s 2008′er is already traded, they’d probably have to do this after the draft and just trade Horford or whoever they select.  I’m not 100% sure on this, though.


Those are four of my back-up plans for the Wolves now that they’ve officially ruined their relationship with KG.  To think, when I started typing this yesterday I felt like a Benedict Arnold.  With what’s happened in the past 24 hours, it’s now become necessary for this franchise’s survival.  As Garnett’s agent said, “Kevin is an extremely loyal person, and loyalty is not a common factor among pro athletes, but in this situation he understands he has to put his long-term considerations ahead of the Minnesota Timberwolves‘ long-term considerations.”

It’s come to that point, and I don’t blame Garnett one bit for feeling that way.  He’s given his heart and soul to the Wolves and they just turned their back on him.  It was the right move basketball-wise, but that still had to hurt KG.  The backstab’s officially gone down.  Now I just hope the Timberwolves can flee with some decent draft picks in their white Ford Bronco before this situation really spirals out of control…

Then again, firing McHale might go a long way in mending fences with KG.  (We’ll make that Option #6)


Derek Hanson

About Derek Hanson

Doctor by day, blogger by night, Derek Hanson founded the Bloguin Network and TWolves Blog. He is one of the original Timberwolves fans, hailing back to 1989.