What Have We Become?

After a week of Kevin Garnett trade speculation, I’ve officially had it.  The past seven days have been a whirlwind of rumored trades, broken deals, information leaks, and blocked transactions.  For anyone who has any ties to the Wolves organization, it’s been an emotional rollercoaster.  And I, for one, can’t wait to get off. 

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[ad2] I’ll have to admit, when the rumors began swirling last week about a potential deal between Phoenix and Minnesota, I was excited about the possibilities.  Guys like Leandro Barbosa, Boris Diaw, Shawn Marion, and Amare Stoudamire are names any team would be happy to have on their roster.  When you added in the possibility of obtaining Atlanta’s 2008 pick, which may be the winning ticket to the O.J. Mayo sweepstakes, things got even more enticing.  When Boston was included in the deal and we could’ve added their #5 pick this year and some huge expiring contracts to the pot, things seemed too good to be true.  I mean, this one move could single-handedly turn the Wolves from a team spinning its wheels to one overflowing with potential. 

Of course, the big drawback to this all was that the Wolves would end up trading away Kevin Garnett.  In order to secure a better future, we’d have to part ways with the only bright spot in our dark, dark, past.  Losing KG would perhaps be the biggest price any franchise had ever paid, but with the sad state the Wolves are currently in, how much did they really have to lose?  There were whisperings that Garnett would opt out at the end of this season anyway if the Timberwolves didn’t improve, or perhaps blow his gasket and demand a trade at the deadline.  Either of those possibilities would have been absolutely crippling to this franchise.  So as painful as a divorce from The Big Ticket would have been, many of his fans agreed that cutting ties early was the way to go, as it would give the team a bright future and prevent an apocolypse. 

I for one didn’t know what to do.  I fully realized the huge implications of the Wolves being able to start over the right way with lots of young talent and picks.  Yet at the same time, losing KG would’ve been simply devastating.  One of my childhood dreams was to stand in the Target Center and watch Garnett raise the Larry O’Brien trophy into the air.  Realizing that scene could play out with me watching on television and Garnett in a Suns jersey, was a tough pill to swallow.  But life isn’t always a fairy tale and dreams don’t always come true.  Needless to say, I was caught in the ultimate conundrum: win or keep KG?  I desperately wanted both. 

Then the Timberwolves’ front office blew the lid off my dilemma by agreeing in principle to a trade with the Celtics.  Talk about a mess!  You basically had Boston offering a king’s ransom in exchange for Garnett, only to have KG’s agent turn around and threaten that he would opt out if the deal went through.  At this point, my head was left spinning with an avalanche of questions.  Has this permanently destroyed the relationship between Garnett and Timberwolves?  Is KG just trying to bully his way into Phoenix and screwing the team over in the process?  Are we going to be forced to trade him for 30 cents on the dollar because everyone knows we’re desperate now? 

In the aftermath of the collapsed Boston deal it seemed as if the Timberwolves franchise was about to implode.  There just didn’t appear any way for things to go back to normal after that.  I was basically a wreck.  Every time my cell phone would ring I was sure it was a friend calling to tell me Garnett was traded. Meanwhile, rumors continued to surface that Phoenix was trying to find a third team to help them get Garnett.  There were talks that Boston would call his agent’s bluff and trade for KG anyway.  Other teams were thrown into the mix like the Warriors, Bulls, Clippers, Mavericks, and Lakers.  But despite all the clamor, the one person we never heard from was Kevin Garnett. 

KG’s silence came as no suprise.  Despite being completely justified to do so at this point, you just knew The Ticket wouldn’t start a public battle in the press and begin making demands.  Ironically, it’s precisely that aspect of Garnett’s character that made him so valuable to trade for in the first place.  Had he gone off on a selfish tirade, the Wolves would have have been lowballed like the Sixers were with Iverson or the Lakers almost surely will be with Kobe.  But now that some fair offers were on the table, and the organization had in principle agreed to ship Garnett out, I was dying to know what was going through KG’s head. 

Had he been secretly pushing all along for a trade to Phoenix or L.A.?  Was he furious with McHale for accepting the Boston deal to the point where he wouldn’t play for the Timberwolves any longer?  One could only imagine the anger, hurt, and frustration he must have been going through after the way things were handled.  I simply couldn’t imagine any other outcome from the situation other than Garnett leaving.  There were rumors he wanted out before all of this went down.  How could he possibly want to continue playing for the Timberwolves after this?  All we needed now was some confirmation that our instincts were correct. 

…But we won’t get any.

At least not any time soon.  And that’s because our best instincts were inherently wrong.  As improbable as it may seem, I thoroughly believe that Kevin Garnett wants to stay in Minnesota. Take a look at these comments:

“I know for a fact that Kevin Garnett loves Minnesota and he likes the guys in the locker room.” – Mark Madsen

“One connected source believes Garnett may not want to leave Minnesota at all” – Boston Herald

“He’s very unhappy.  He’s being shopped, and he’s being shopped heavily” – Newsday.com

“‘Typical Kevin’, the teammate said of Garnett’s silence.  ‘He’s loyal.’” – New York Daily News

“Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said Garnett has not asked to be traded” – TwinCities.com

Those quotes are the only ones amongst all the hoopla that talk about Garnett’s opinion on the situation and are from people who are somewhat close to him.  All the other talk, that he wants to go to the Suns, or that he wants to break ties with the Wolves, is pure speculation made by writers who, for the most part, aren’t connected in any way with the Wolves.  And when you take a look back at KG’s past, the fact that only loyal words are coming from his camp should come as no surprise.  Throughout the years, Garnett has reitterated time and time again that he wants to stay in Minnesota for his entire career.  He’s talked about what bringing a championship to Minnesota would mean to him.  He’s stuck with this organization through rough time after rough time.  So why on earth should we expect anything but that continued loyalty from him? 

Most people just don’t get Kevin Garnett.  They have misunderstood him for his entire career.  And that’s because when things get rough, we’re all so quick to take the easy way out, to jump ship, to blame others.  That’s not KG.  He doesn’t operate that way.  He’s a thoroughly unique individual that believes in the concept of a team, of putting others first, of staying the course, of never giving up.  So while all of us wouldn’t think twice about ditching the moribound Wolves for the surging Suns and exchaning trips to the lottery for trips to The Finals, those prospects just don’t appeal to Garnett.  That’s not what’s important to him.  What makes KG tick isn’t making everything about him and what he can get right now.  He’s made his career about all of us, the team, the city, the state and is focused on the big picture, long-term.  He fully realizes that when all is said and done the awards he earns will be forgotten and any rings he may win will tarnish.  But the legacy he will have built in Minnesota, the enduring love that people will have for him, the ideal he will have come to represent – those things won’t ever go away.  The 2008 NBA Championship will end up as some line in a stat book.  What Kevin Garnett has come to stand for – that will be written on the hearts of men for centuries. 

After reading the above paragraph, how can you possibly trade him away?  Yeah, if he wanted out and requested to be moved, that’s one thing.  That’s why a few days ago, when I thought he had finally had enough, I was 99% behind a deal that would land him in Phoenix.  I mean, after all he’s done for the fans of the Timberwolves, how could we selfishly hold onto him if he wanted to go?  But now that the dust has settled and there’s absolutely no indication that he actually wants to be traded, and on the contrary there’s a fair amount of evidence that, for some miraculous reason, he still wants to be a part of the Timberwolves, how do you sell him up the river and trade him away anyway? 

That’s the main point I’ve been leading up to this entire article:  Trading Kevin Garnett is just plain wrong.  There’s no gray area on this one – it’s wrong.  Two or three days ago when I made my list of potential trades, it was under the false pretense that the relationship between Garnett and the Wolves was permanently severed.  But now, when its been proven that KG’s determination to stick with this franchise is strong enough to endure even this latest debacle, trading him has been elevated to an absolute moral felony. 

What really gets me upset is that the front office had to know Garnett’s stance on the issue.  I have a hard time believing that they got as deep as they did into these trade talks without knowing where he stood.  They had to have known that Garnett wanted to remain the cornerstone of this franchise, that he was willing to wait it until things improved, that he was willing to conform to “The Blueprint”.  And that’s why it sickens me that things have gotten as far as they have.  Because as much as these trades may help the Wolves “rebuild” and as much as joining Steve Nash would have helped Garnett’s chances for a ring, in actuality they were helping no one.  No good can come from ripping Kevin away from the place he calls home and robbing Wolves fans of watching the rest of his career. 

Secondly, say what you will about all the “young talent and potential” we’d be getting in return.  There’s a 0.00000001% chance that anyone we’d end up with in those deals would end up meaning as much to this franchise as Garnett does.  Yeah, they’d have younger legs, a longer future, and perhaps even get us back to the playoffs quicker.  But at what cost?  Knowing the typical NBA player of today, we’d likely end up drafting a spoiled brat or a malcontent.  Even if we hit the jackpot and that Atlanta pick netted us O.J. Mayo, what’s stopping him from being the next Stephon Marbury?  What’s going to keep them from demanding the max when their contract is up and they clearly don’t deserve it?  What’s stopping our front office from making a desperate play to keep them on our roster and saddling us with some more bad contracts that last 4-5 years?  What will make those players hesitate for a moment before they pull a Shawn Marion and start throwing a hissy-fit when you don’t trade them to one of their 3 prime destinations?  The answer is nothing.  So sure, we’d like to imagine that the picks we’ll get in return for Garnett will net us the next LeBron, Dwane Wade, and Chris Bosh.  But chances are we’ll just be getting the second coming of Sam, Spree, and Stephon. 

So why would you throw away a once in a life-time player like Kevin Garnett for that?  And more importantly, why would you do it when he wants to stay?  Have we really become that bloodthirsty for a championship?  Are we really willing to sell our soul like that to win some basketball games?  I, for one, am certainly not.  And I hope that you all as my fellow fans are not as well.  Kevin Garnett has made a pact with the fans of this franchise to see us through until the bitter end.  He wants to play out his career in front of us, and only us.  That’s got to mean something.  I don’t want to be part of a team where that doesn’t mean something.  If the Wolves front office trades away Kevin Garnett, no matter how good the deal may be, I will never forgive them.  And I’d never forgive myself if I just sat there and watched it happen. 

That’s where you come in. 

We’ve got to storm the gates for Garnett.  Call into KFAN, post it on the message boards, shout it from the rooftops of the Target Center.  “We, the fans, will not tolerate a Kevin Garnett trade!” We’ve put up with too much for far too long to have him taken away from us.  If we never win the NBA title, so be it. But we will not be robbed of watching him play his final game on the court of the Target Center and have his jersey raised to the rafters next to Malik Sealy’s. 

I don’t know if it’s fear for their jobs, different priorities, or financial difficulties that have turned our front office against keeping Garnett.  But whatever the reason, trading him is wrong.  We deserve better.  KG deserves better.  Now it’s up to us to set things right.  We’ve all spent countless nights screaming our hearts out for Kevin Garnett, and now it’s time to raise our voices louder than ever before.  Because if we don’t, we may never get to shout for him again…

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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.

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