Round Table Discussion: KG Trade 6 Month Anniversary

Round Table Discussion: Six Month Anniversary Of The KG Trade

As you all may or may not be aware, today is the sixth month anniversary of the blockbuster Kevin Garnett trade; which changed the faces of the Boston Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves.  It is rare for a player of KG’s caliber to get traded in today’s NBA, and this blockbuster trade was the biggest single player trade in NBA history; netting the T-Wolves five players and two #1 draft picks.  In return, the Wolves received Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff, Gerald Green, and two future first round draft picks. 

The staff here at TWolvesBlog commemorated this event by holding a “Roundtable Discussion” to look at both the Wolves and Celtics franchises, during the sixth months following the trade.  The trade has made the situation in Minnesota substantially more difficult, while the Boston Celtics are reaping immediate dividends.  As it stands, the T-Wolves have the worst record in the league at 9-36, and on the flipside the Celtics currently enjoy the league’s best record at 35-8.

(Click “Read More” to continue on with the Roundtable Discussion…)

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QUESTION:  "What are your thoughts about the state of the Timberwolves at this point in the season, six months after the blockbuster KG trade?"
 

ANTHONY:  Guys, I don’t know about you, but I feel absolutely cheated by the Wolves.  I came into this season expecting them to act…well, young.  But that hasn’t happened.  Rather than push the ball in transition like we expected them to do, this team too often gets bogged down in sluggish, ineffective halfcourt sets (and it doesn’t help matters that they can’t shoot from the perimeter with any consistency). 
 
I expected a team that would play inspired basketball on a nightly basis, a team that would give more experienced, more talented teams a run for their money because of the energy and desire they’d bring to the table.  Again, that hasn’t happened. Effort has been the most noticeable issue for me as of late…the players clearly aren’t buying whatever Wittman is selling.  Remember when we all were talking about how much fun they’d be to watch this season?  Wow, that really worked out, didn’t it?  Earlier in the season, the Wolves were losing games in the final five minutes.  Now, they’re losing games in the first half.


COLLEGE WOLF:   Like Anthony, I am discouraged with the Wolves as well.  I’m not entirely sure that “cheated” is the word I’d use right now, but it’s getting dang close.  Let’s be realistic, I expected our team to suck… but not to this monumental extent.  In my various Wolves season previews; I predicted a 21-61 overall record this year.  Never did I imagine that we would be insanely lucky to even reach that feeble threshold. 

The one thing I expected from the Wolves was that they would give 100% effort each and every game, but maybe that expectation was a tad bit unrealistic in that sense that not every player on every team gives 100% over the grind of an 82 game season.  With that said, the youngsters have nothing to lose this season, for the most part.  True, some guys are playing for contracts or the spot on the team in the future, but by and large our “core players” should be largely unconcerned with the monetary aspect right now.  Unfortunately, the effort has not been there so far.  It’s not even halfway through the season, and already it looks like our players are quitting in the first half of games.  Some nights it appears that we’ve lost before the game even starts.  Most games are anything but inspiring basketball.  Granted, the situation would be helped had Coach Wittman settled on a consistent rotation and “pecking order” before the season began, but that task was apparently too insurmountable for him, as we’ve had 19 different starting rosters already through only 37 games (as I write this.)   I didn’t expect much from this club going into the season, but I did expect more than what the fans have been getting, which is somewhere between slim and nothing.

 

DeROK: Like Anthony and CW, I’m also disappointed from what I’ve seen from the Wolves post-trade, but for different reasons.  To be completely honest, the losing really doesn’t bother me all that much.  Obviously I’d love for the Timberwolves to be in the playoffs, but I’d rather have them completely stink and net a good draft pick that can really help us, than to continue to spin our wheels by being "just good enough" and perennially picking 6th, 7th, etc. I feel like the past three years we’ve been suffering through bad seasons with not much to show for it.  At least this year I feel like there will be some sort of "payoff" in the end. 
What really bothers me is that as the days go by, I feel more and more like the Wolves got completely taken in the KG trade.  Outside of Jefferson, did we get ourselves one player who can be a real contributor on a title contender?  When the deal first went down I thought that Gerald Green was going to eventually blossom into this superstar.  Now I’m questioning whether he’ll even play in the league next year.  Telfair has exceeded expectations, but they were incredibly low to begin with.  Do you see him getting any playing time on a team like San Antonio, Dallas, Phoenix, Boston, etc?  I sure don’t.  Those are championship-caliber teams, and if we want to get to that level, we need to assemble a roster full of players who are good enough to play on those teams.  Telfair just isn’t there, and neither is Gomes, who I believe is simply putting up points because he’s on a bad team and somebody has got to score.  Theo’s contract may provide cap relief, but McHale is going to be hard-pressed to find a free-agent taker for that extra cash. Even if he can somehow manage to do that, the player will most likely come because we’re overpaying him, which again, doesn’t help our cause.  The Celtics’ pick next season is going to be very high, and the pick we got back would’ve likely defaulted to a 2nd rounder anyway.  So basically the big trade boils down to Al Jefferson for Kevin Garnett.  Jefferson may have "potential", but he’s never been a contributor on a team that would be defined as anything better than "horrible".  I can’t help but wonder, if he’s sooooo good, then why are the Wolves on pace to be sooooo bad?   I hate to say it, but we got badly, badly taken with this deal.


COLLEGE WOLF:   The KG trade wasn’t amazing per se, but without any solid evidence of any other offers that may have been “out there”, I consider it a decent trade.  Remember, the Wolves got three things that were needed from trading someone like KG:  1) Cap Space (aka Theo’s contract)  2)  Young Talent (Gomes, Telfair, GG, and Jefferson)  and 3) Draft picks (Our #1 pick back we owed them, and the Celtics #1 pick top three protected in 2009.)  

I also disagree with your assertion that Gomes isn’t a real contributor.  If anything, he’d be an even better contributor on a veteran laden title contender… like Dallas, Boston, Detroit, San Antonio, etc.  He’s a smart basketball player that does everything on the court pretty well and won’t hurt us.  He’s got legitimate size (6’8” and 240 pounds), and can defend most small forwards or power forwards (key word: “most”, but can any one player defend every single guy in the league at any one position?)  Gomes also has shooting range out to the three point line, can get to the foul line, and is a superb rebounder.  What else could you ask for in a “throw in” to the trade?


THE OLD LOGO:  The easiest way to put it: The Timberwolves are really bad.  Historically bad.  If the 1991-1992 Wolves team played this team in a seven game series, the 91-92 Wolves would win in 5 games.  However, everyone knows they’re bad and I don’t think that’s the point of CW’s question.
 
The state of the team is miserable as is, and ultimately incomplete because of Foye’s absence.  As it stands, I still don’t know what kind of player Randy Foye is.  If you listen to the Timberwolves broadcast team during televised games, they’re clear that Foye will put up as good as, if not better output as Brandon Roy (summarized statement from Jim Peteson during Wolves/Blazers broadcast from Portland on 12/28).  Without causing a "who should we have drafted" debate (Roy), Foye is advertised as, and should be, one of the better players on the team once he is back.  However, he’s currently not here and the remainder of the team is not good.  There are some decent individuals on this team, but the skill set of the individual players overlaps at several positions.  The Timberwolves still do not currently have anyone who can consistently put down a mid-range jumper, much less a three point shot.  Oh, they also don’t have any slashers, go figure.  The point guards turn it over too much and can’t get the ball in the right places.
 
As for the trade, we lost one of the most popular sporting icons in Minnesota history.  It was a trade that had to happen to open up for the future, but it leaves the present rather bleak.  I’m pleased that the Wolves got the draft pick back that never should have gone, and I’m overall pleased with Al Jefferson’s play.  However, Al’s being used too much at center.  It’s obvious this team isn’t going to win many games and he should be developing at power forward and playing defense against the West’s other elite power forwards in preparation for a, hopefully, brighter future.  Here’s my breakdown of the players we got in that trade for KG:
 
AL JEFFERSON -
Without trying not to repeat what I said above, Al Jefferson is basically doing what I expected him to do, which was 17-21 ppg and 9-12 rpg.  Solid play.  I admire him signing the $65 million dollar contract, which will at least give the team a fighting chance to add other legit pieces (with the right decision making).  His defense needs work, and he needs someone else to be the Alpha Dog, but you can pretty much make a game plan counting on steady production out of that spot.  As far as his play in some of the 4th quarters (see: disappearing), I think it’s possibly one of three things, or a combination of (1) his teammates can’t get him the ball in the right spots, (2) he’s rusty because Witt usually keeps him on the bench for several 4th quarter minutes, and (3) he looks tired in the 4th quarter.  I first noticed this last night at the Golden State game (1/15/08.)  He could not shake Biedrens and get open for even a split second.  That said, I’m not worried about Al (except for that bunk nickname).
 
SEBASTIAN TELFAIR -
Of all the high school kids that went straight to the NBA since KG, not one of the success stories was a true PG.  Why?  It’s nearly impossible to go from playing with against high school sized teams, where the other centers can be 6’4", to playing with the size and speed of NBA players.  My buddy Ben brought up an interesting statistic that sounds asinine at first, but as you analyze it, it proves this point: Have you ever seen Telfair throw an alley-oop pass?  I haven’t, and there are some players on this team that can go up and get it.  I went on eBay and got a copy of "Through the Fire" for $2.50.  Two things that worked for him in high school don’t work anymore.  First, 6’0" is a very decent size for a high school point guard.  Add on NBA speed, and Telfair was a very tough matchup for some of the other high school players.  He could get in the lane and finish easily over other 18 year olds that probably did not possess the athleticism Telfair had (admittedly, I assume Telfair’s Lincoln HS team played some of the best competition in NYC).  Second, and more importantly, Telfair doesn’t command the same double teams he got in high school AND his passing lanes close much faster than they did in high school.  What I’m trying to say is that he cannot get the ball to players that aren’t wide open.  He should have gone to Louisville for at least 1 year.  As it stands, I hope the best for him, but I don’t want to see him in a Wolves uniform next season.

RYAN GOMES -
I don’t mind Gomes’ game.  However, he needs to quit with the 3 point shot.  Why can’t players stick with hitting consistent mid-rangers and then moving out to the 3 point line?  The college three pointer is a reasonable distance away, but the NBA three point line is a ridiculous distance away.  I’ve been advocating Gomes as a Doug West type player.  Doug West was a very solid player, could hit a baseline J, play defense, and drive to the hoop.  West turned that into 4 straight double-digit seasons.  In any event, I wouldn’t mind resigning Gomes, if the price is right…
 
THEO RATLIFF -
Sign me up for his job.  Games played per season starting with 2004-2005: 63, 55, 2, 6 (this season).  Salary for those respective seasons: $10,937,500, $11,666,666, $11,666,666, $11,666,666.  Respectively, per game – $173,611, $212,121, $5,833,333 (Nice!), pro-rated this season $877,371.  At least that number comes off the books.
 
GERALD GREEN –
My first reaction to Green earlier this season – "He looks as lost and confused as a 16-year old whose girlfriend just uttered the words ‘I’m pregnant.’"  I stand by it.  See Telfair analysis up above.  From what I’ve read, Green did not start playing organized high school ball until his sophomore year.  Basically, Green was able to get into the NBA with 3 1/2 years of athleticism…and it shows.  He doesn’t move around on offense and he doesn’t play good defense.  I hope we do not sign him.
 
As far as the rest of the team, Turbo (aka Corey Brewer) is struggling, Marko is way too inconsistent, Rocksteady (Smith) never passes the ball once he gets it, and Launchpad McCants is streakier than Hollywood Robinson.  There’s something else, too.  The only guy that looks like he hates losing right now is Walker.  When he’s on the floor and something goes right, he’s the only one who looks pumped up.  When things go wrong, he’s the only one that looks pissed off.  This team seems like the give up every night.  I know there are people on the Wolves coaching staff (and front office) that know infinitely more about basketball than the fans, but there’s one thing I know for sure: there’s a real debate over whether or not Dwayne Casey sucked.  Some were pro-Casey, some hated him.  However, there’s no debate on Wittman.  Everyone thinks he sucks; people that know and play basketball, and people that don’t.
 
I guess he did deliver LeBron to the Calves…
 
In summary, state of the Timberwolves: Awful.


ANTHONY:  Solid points all around, Jeremy.  I absolutely agree that Jefferson is being used too much at center…has Wittman realized that playing Craig Smith and Jefferson on the same front-line doesn’t work?  Decent in concept, perhaps, but disastrous in execution.  I also loved the Hollywood Robinson reference…admit it, who doesn’t miss Hollywood?  All he did was make plays, one 10-day contract at a time.  OK, OK, I might be slightly overrating the guy.
Dan Barreiro was 100% right about this organization, when he called Target Center the "600 First Avenue Country Club."  There’s no other way to explain why a 12-30 record last season netted Wittman an extension…as far as embarrassing moments in this franchise’s recent history go (and there’s been no shortage of those), I think that’s one of the most humiliating developments.  Casey goes 20-20 and gets the boot.  Witt goes 12-30 and signs a multiyear contract to remain with the Wolves.  On the front-office level, it doesn’t get any more incompetent and downright embarrassing than that.  They’ve made more moronic decisions than I care to mention, but when I look back at recent years, the coaching moves are what makes me scratch my head the most.  I’m way beyond the point of being angry about the decision to fire Casey (who I actually liked quite a bit, despite his stingy playing time for rookies and often strange rotations) and the decision to retain Wittman…again, I simply feel embarrassed for the front-office.  Their coaching decisions have been nothing short of laughable. 

Like College Wolf said, nobody expected this team to win more than 25 games this season.  But we didn’t expect it to be this bad…and as far as I’m concerned, the downright awful effort we’ve been seeing lately falls directly back on the coaching staff.  Wittman is a joke, but he’s not going anywhere…this is, after all, the 600 First Avenue Country Club.

 

QUESTION:  “Looking back upon "The Trade", and with the value of hindsight, who got the better end of the deal and why?”


THE OLD LOGO:  The simple answer is the Celtics, but it’s easy to say the Celtics got the better end of the deal because one can quickly gauge whether or not the Celtics are getting what they wanted out of the trade (answer: yes).  If the Celtics were only in the playoff hunt and not on a torrid pace, the answer may not be so black and white.  The Celtics definitely got the best player from both a basketball and business standpoint, and the Celtics acquired Garnett and Allen to make a genuine title push in the next 1-3 seasons (the "1" including this season).  The Wolves deal is contingent on many factors leading into the next few seasons, and their end of the deal can only be gauged in the next two to three seasons when they use the cap space cleared in the trade.  The short answer is that they got what they wanted: Al Jefferson, draft pick(s), and cap space for the future.  Here’s a small breakdown:
 
BOSTON SIDE:
The Celtics have basically pulled a better version of the trade the Heat made for Shaq a few years back.  They’ve somewhat leveraged the future (more so with Allen) in order to win now.  The Heat are paying the price for Shaq ($60 million over this year and the next two), but it payed off in the form of a championship.  The Heat traded to win right away; they went from a 7-8 seed to the Eastern Conference Finals and, subsequently, won the whole thing.  In the process, they acquired one of the best players in NBA history, sold more tickets and jerseys during the run, and also presumably had better books from the business end because of it.  Here’s why the Celtics, at least for now, have a better situation than the Heat: KG will not fade as fast as Shaq, barring injuries.  KG can hit jumpers from almost anywhere and his style of game combined with the fact that he doesn’t weigh 350 lbs will keep KG in his prime much longer than Shaq.  Thus, the extension KG signed which will continue to pay him $20 million won’t be wasted in the later years like it’s being wasted on Shaq now (again, barring injuries).  The Celtics are definitely getting more TV time, selling more jerseys (KG’s is #1 at the NBA Store if I remember correctly), selling more tickets, and probably making more money.  In order to complete their goal, they will have to win a championship, a goal that looks realistic this season and probably in the next two or three.
 
WOLVES SIDE:
Again, the Wolves really suck right now.  However, the team’s publicly stated goal was to (a) free up cap space in the future (accomplished), (b) acquire Al Jefferson (accomplished), and (c) get draft picks (accomplished…sort of).  I say "sort of" because it’s lame getting back a pick you never should have traded, but whatever.  Not only can they clear up cap space next season with Theo, but Al Jefferson signed a deal that will at least give the team a fighting chance to sign free agents going forward.  The lingering problems are the inept front office and a coach who has the same inspiring persona as George McFly before he punches out Biff.  The stands are empty, I see maybe three jerseys every game, and FSN/45’s TV coverage looks like NBA on CBS footage from the 70s.
 
Simple answer right now: Celtics got the better end on almost every level, BUT, objectively, both teams theoretically got what they wanted.  It’s just that the Celtics answer was meant to be immediate.

 

DeROK:  I think it’s pretty clear that the Celtics got the better end of the deal.  OldLogo is right, in that it’s going to take a few years before we actually know how well the Wolves did for themselves. The situation is actually very similar to the Roy/Foye trade in that regards.  Right now the Blazers have benefited the most, no doubt.  However, the true result won’t be known until we get a good look at how Randy pans out.  Unfortunately for Wolves fans, it looks like both of those deals are going to need monumental changes of direction to end up in the Minnesota’s favor. 
 
Point blank, the Celtics went from being the 2nd worst team in the league to the best, almost overnight.  Unless KG and Co. continually prove to disappoint and don’t make the Finals in the next 3-4 years, you’d be hard-pressed to say that this deal was a negative for them.  Even at that, the trade has so re-juvenated the franchise in both reputation, popularity, and finances that the Celtics would probably have to pull off a Wolves-esque string of first-round exits for this deal to be considered any sort of a bust.  Remember, without that trade, the Celtics would be lingering in the lottery for another 2, 3, or even more years.  When you make moves in the NBA, you look to improve your team for the next 3-5 seasons, not the next 7-8 years.  I think it’s clear that the Celtics have improved their situation for the next half-decade, regardless of how their lack of youth, picks, and financial flexibility may hurt them in the long-term. Throwing an asterisk on the Celtics’ situation in 2014 isn’t very reasonable as so many other factors will come into play between now and then. 
 
Many will argue that the Timberwolves will be a better team in 3-5 years than if they had held onto KG, and perhaps even be better than the Celtics in the long-term.  I do have to agree, as the Wolves had zero flexibility to improve their situation and are now faced with a host of options.  However, with this move, the Wolves only served to speed up the rebuilding process.  When you compare that result to the impact this trade had on the Celtics, I don’t really see how the T-Wolves will ever be considered the winner in the deal.  Still, that doesn’t mean that it was a "bad" deal.  As Jeremy pointed out, it just means that it helped the Celtics more than it helped the Wolves.  Al Jefferson appears to be a great piece to build around.  When you pair him with a healthy Randy Foye, and perhaps the 2008 #1 draft pick, you’re looking at a team that could have a very bright future. 
 
My worst fear is that Randy’s knee is a continual problem, and that Al turns out to be one of those "good player on a bad team"-type of guys like Stephon Marbury, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, etc.  I certainly hope that’s not the case with Jefferson, because if it is, the Timberwolves will have traded away a legendary player and gotten practically nothing in return.  None of the other pieces of the deal are going to make-or-break this trade. Still, I have faith in “Old Skool” to turn this team around eventually.  If he’s able to do that, the Celtics will still have gotten the better end of the deal, but instead of being viewed as losers, the T-Wolves will be viewed as that team that simply won a little bit less.


COLLEGE WOLF: I mean no disrespect when I say this, but OldLogo pretty much stole my thunder when summing up the trade.  And combined with DeROK’s thoughts, there isn’t much left to analyze.  However, I do have a few thoughts left I could share.  When I personally ponder any given trade, my main criterion for judgment is:  1) Did this trade help the team now and 2) How will this affect the team in the future. 

From the “Now” standpoint, this trade has vaulted the Celtics to the top of the Eastern Conference, and they are being considered legitimate title contenders.  The Wolves, on the other hand, have the worst record in the entire league.  Therefore, the Celtics can answer yes to criteria #1, while the Wolves cannot.  However, criteria #2 is where the Wolves can make up for the lack of #1, and possibly eventually be considered as “getting the better deal” at some point down the line.  First off, let me just state that it’s basically impossible to trade a superstar in today’s NBA for equal value.  Because of many factors, it’s just not feasible.  Therefore, what the Wolves were looking for when they traded KG was Cap Space, #1 draft picks, and young talent.  We can say that at the time, it appeared as if the Wolves had received all three things in return.  Theo Ratliff’s contract is cap space (along with Gerald Green, Ryan Gomes, and Sebastian Telfair’s expiring contracts, should the Wolves choose not to resign them), and we received 2 #1 draft picks (albeit one of our own that we never should have traded them in the first place, as OldLogo pointed out.)  The biggest question mark amongst those three facets is the young talent the Wolves received.

 Al Jefferson has started off strong, and all indications point to him becoming a future star in the low post.  However, it is not yet known as to whether or not he will ever truly become an “alpha male” type player that can lead the Wolves to greatness.  Gerald Green was thought to have potential, but all he has shown thus far is that he’s completely clueless on defense and streaky at best on offense.  It does not seem likely that the Wolves will re-sign him.  Telfair was a question mark who seems to be playing decent, but he is too undersized and cannot shoot well enough at this point to ever be considered a full time starting NBA point guard.  Ryan Gomes is a solid, yet not completely spectacular athlete.  He does many things well, but nothing amazing.  However, it should be noted that he could be considered our second best player so far this season.  It is unknown as to whether or not the Wolves will re-sign him after this season (although he is a restricted Free Agent.)  Theo Ratliff resumed his warm seat on the injury list, and most likely will not be back.   With all that said, it does appear that the Wolves have a chance at a brighter future, due to the influx of talent and the fact that our salary cap situation will soon become much more flexible than it ever has been the past 6-8 or so years.  The Wolves #1 pick this season should be a top 4 pick in the draft.  Combine that with some of our youngsters “panning out” and continuing to further develop, and a large amount of cap space due to expiring contracts; and the Wolves could have the makings of a good young squad for years to come.  However, it could also blow up in our faces.  The thing is, no one yet knows.

The Celtics, on the other hand, are a little shakier in response to criteria #2.  Their “Big 3” are on the wrong side of 30 years old, and get paid a lot of money.  They don’t have a whole lot of depth or young stars in the making, as they mortgaged their future to win now.  But who can blame them?  I know I can’t.  With that said, if the Celtics win a title or two (and they have a decent chance), the future can never truly be very gloomy. 

Being that the aspirations of all clubs is to win the NBA title, and the fact that the Celtics have now put themselves in a very good position to do so; one would have to unequivocally suggest that the Celtics have indeed gotten the “better end of the deal.”


ANTHONY:  The Celtics got the better of the deal, but Jeremy is absolutely correct to say that both teams got what they wanted.  Danny Ainge saved his butt by catapulting the Celtics not only back to "relevant" status, but to a team that could very likely win it all this season (or in the next 2-3 seasons, at least).  Ainge was looking to win now, and at the moment, it seems like he accomplished that to perfection.  With that said, though, I agree 100% with College Wolf that the future is quite unpredictable for the Celtics…but they’ll be a contender for the next few seasons, and because of that, Boston has the clear edge when looking back at the Garnett trade.
 
For the Wolves, Al Jefferson has lived up to expectations this season, but can he take another step down the road, and become a truly elite big man in this league?  Can he reach Tim Duncan status, Kevin Garnett status? 
 
The other pieces in the trade have left much to be desired.  College Wolf’s description of Telfair was spot-on…Bassy has the quickness to be a slasher and create baskets, but he doesn’t have the size to finish drives (we’ve seen him get manhandled by defenders on literally hundreds of fast breaks this season).  And his jumper is inconsistent at best.  Just when Gerald Green finally seems to be turning a corner with his game, he makes a bad pass or takes an ill-advised shot.  He also doesn’t have the mental toughness necessary to compete in the NBA…when something goes wrong for him, he keeps his head down and can’t recover any confidence.  If Green can get rid of his mental roadblocks (confidence, decision making, and his much-discussed "basketball IQ"), he’ll be a serviceable player.  He has a pretty good jumper, and we all know that he’s a playmaker on the fast break.  But overcoming those mental issues will be easier said than done.  Gomes has rebounded from a rough November and December to have a solid January…he’s shooting the ball better, and we’re also seeing improved rebounding out of him.  While I thought of him as a huge disappointment earlier in the season, I’m now glad he was thrown into the deal.  He’s not a game-changer by any means, but you’ve gotta have quality role-players on your roster, and Gomes fits quite nicely into the mix.
 
The Wolves are moving in the right direction with the addition of Jefferson (Derok’s correct to say that the success of this deal depends almost entirely on Jefferson), but there needs to be more pieces added to the puzzle.  Randy Foye’s return will help Jefferson quite a bit, and a high draft pick next season (I’m not getting my hopes up for the number one pick, as it only seems appropriate for this team to get screwed in the lottery) will also provide the Wolves with a player who can hopefully help take this team back to relevancy in the Western Conference.  With Jefferson, Foye, (Derok’s fear of Foye’s knee being a continual problem is completely justified, in my book) Brewer, McCants (if he can start displaying anything resembling consistency) and an additional high draft pick on the squad, they’d have a good nucleus of young talent to build around and develop. 
 
But I’ll go back to a question I raised earlier: Can Big Al take the next step, and become a truly elite big man in this league?  The answer to that question will have a sizable impact on the future of this organization.  And the Wolves absolutely must use their cap space wisely, but I’m not getting my hopes up for that…I doubt free agents will exactly be lining up for the chance to play with the Wolves, and our front-office doesn’t exactly have an illustrious history of free agent signings.  Like CW said, things could truly go either way for the Wolves…this team could develop into a squad full of dangerous young talent, or we could have a disaster at Target Center.


COLLEGE WOLF:  My biggest fear with this trade is that it turns us into the “Celtics West” and we compile young “assets” in the hope that we can eventually make a trade somewhere down the line… a trade for perhaps a star veteran like KG.  That’s what Ainge was able to pull off, but unfortunately, I don’t have the same confidence in McHale.  Perhaps he will be gone soon and we’ll have a new voice (meaning not McHale) acting as our GM.  Unfortunately, we’ll most likely lose some of our tradable youngsters to free agency before we have a chance to turn them around into a consistent asset, whether it would be through development or trades. 

Jefferson is a good; scratch that, a pretty great young talent.  His defense is overall pretty weak, but he’s young and seems to have a stellar work ethic.  His offensive post game is already up there amongst some of the best in the league.  With some hard work and capable teammates, I think the sky is truly the limit for Al.  Jefferson did his part and signed for less money than he could have probably gotten on the open market.  Now it’s up to the Front Office to surround him with talent that will create synergy on the court, something they were mostly unable to do with KG.

I just hope this Front Office has a plan for our future.  If not, this trade could be looked back upon as a complete disaster for the Wolves.

 

QUESTION:  "Do you think KG will win a title with the Celtics?  And what are the Wolves chances of ever wining a title with Big Al as our cornerstone?"


JEREMY:
Do you think KG will win a title with the Celtics?
 
It’s possible.  And by "possible" I’m not saying possible like recreating Dinosaurs out of fossilized mosquitos, I’m saying they are a definite contender this year and next year, definitely, and possible beyond if their front office is savvy enough.  With a record of 33-6 as a type this (I’m not sure exactly when this will be posted), they’re definitely one of the teams to beat.  In the East, I think they have to watch out for Detroit and Cleveland.  Although I don’t like Clevaland to win the East again, I still think that LeBron is dangerous enough to take his team past any other eastern team in seven games.  I also think Detroit is still my favorite to win the east this season.  Boston has been lucky on the injury front to this point and they will need that to continue.  Assuming they get past the East, the West’s contenders are all very tough.  I still think that the Spurs are the favorite until someone beats them.  So, to specifically answer the question above:  No.  I don’t think he will, at least not this season.  I really think the Spurs are going to repeat this season, even though I hate the Spurs.  After this season, it will depend on what Celtics management can do going forward.  As long as KG is in his prime, I think it’s possible.  However, I think they need to acquire a twilight-year point guard that still has enough in him.  If they do that this season prior to the trade deadline, then I definitely think they can win.  But as it stands, I still see a Spurs/Pistons final.
 
And what are the Wolves chances of ever wining a title with Big Al as our cornerstone?
 
None.  I think Al Jefferson is a great player to have on a championship team, but he’s just not an alpha dog.  I think you can definitely make a gameplan around him scoring 21-24 a game once he’s completely matured with 10-13 rebounds, but he’s going to need to play with a leader who can take the big shots.
 

COLLEGE WOLF:  Very good analysis OldLogo.  I too agree that it’s *possible* that KG can capture a title with Beantown, however, unless a few changes are made before too long, I don’t see it happening this season.  Specifically, they need more depth amongst their bigs, and a mentor/veteran PG that can play decent minutes while spelling and/or tutoring Rajon Rondo.  Some big men available would be Chris Webber, PJ Brown, and possibly Theo Ratliff if he is truly healthy and gets bought out by the Wolves.  They are several options at point guards for the Celtics via trade or free agents; but I think they would be best served to bringing Sam Cassell in.  IF they can get a big and/or PG before too long, they should have ample time to assimilate him into their team chemistry and rotation.  Sam Cassell can hit big shots, tutor RR, and bring the ball up the court when Rondo is out.  Eddie House and Tony Allen have already been proven vastly incapable of playing backup PG during crunchtime, as they do not have the necessary handle to lead the offense when pressured. 

It’s hard to say that KG *won’t* win a title on the Celtics, but I just don’t think their team (as currently constituted), has enough to get past the elite of the Western Conference in a seven game series.  I think they have a great chance of making it to the Eastern Conference Finals, with perhaps a 50-50 shot of making the NBA Finals this season.  It’s true that anything can happen in the Finals, but teams like San Antonio, Dallas, (and even the Lakers, Hornets, and Jazz to some extent) matchup too well against them.  Like OldLogo said, I foresee a San Antonio vs Detroit/Boston NBA Finals, with SA taking the crown.

With a few changes this off-season, the Celtics should be amongst the cream of the crop in the Eastern Conference for the next few years.

And what are the Wolves chances of ever wining a title with Big Al as our cornerstone?

If Big Al is our de facto #1 star/leader/point scorer, I do not see the Wolves winning a title under those circumstances either.  I think Al would be a superb power forward and #2 or #3 option, on a championship contending team.  I think that is Big Al’s best chance at winning a title, rather than as a leader of other youngsters.  He still needs to improve his defense tremendously, as well as remain at the power forward position, rather than at Center, which is what our brain-dead Front Office continues to employ.  The only way Al slides over to Center is if a team (whether it be the Wolves or not) has another tremendous, defense orientated power forward already on their squad.  The irony of this situation is that I think KG and Big Al would be a near perfect fit together.  Unfortunately, I think we could all agree to that not being a possibility during the remaining years of KG’s prime. 


ANTHONY:
Do you think KG will win a title with the Celtics?
 
I sure hope so…with so many unforgettable memories of KG’s days with the Wolves, I’d absolutely love seeing him in the Finals–and besides, I don’t think I’ll be able to stay awake through another Spurs-Pistons championship series.  I think you two guys hit the nail on the head about Boston’s need for a veteran point guard…and College Wolf, I really like the idea of the Celtics bringing Sam Cassell in.  Rajon Rondo has excelled this season, but they need another piece at the point to come off the bench, and Cassell would be a great fit for Boston in that role.  He’s clutch, proven, and his presence would help Rondo’s development.  And as CW said, the Celtics offense has run into big problems when Allen, Allen, and House have been forced into running the point.
 
The Celtics have shown that they can hang with the Pistons, as they’ve beaten the Detroit by seven at the Palace of Auburn Hills (and they only fell by two to the Pistons at home earlier this season in an excellent game).  If they can avoid the injury bug, they’re a lock to reach the Eastern Conference finals and have an excellent chance at getting past the Pistons (assuming Detroit advances to that point).  But this year, I’m just not sure they could beat San Antonio in a seven-game series.  It would take a lot for me to bet against the Spurs…I couldn’t agree more with Jeremy’s take–that the Spurs should be considered the favorites to take home the title until another team proves otherwise.  And that sucks, because I can’t stand the Spurs…Duncan and Ginobli, in particular.  In the season or two beyond 2008, though, I could absolutely see KG and company winning a championship.
 
And what are the Wolves chances of ever wining a title with Big Al as our cornerstone?
 
Won’t happen.  I honestly don’t have a lot to add from College Wolf and Jeremy’s comments, as they nailed the reason that the Wolves won’t win a championship with Big Al as the first option…simply put, he’s an excellent second option, but he’ll need to be playing alongside a star for the Wolves to win a title.  I love his game, but I don’t think he’ll ever have the mentality or dominant game necessary to be "the guy" on a championship roster.  And that, my friends, makes this upcoming draft absolutely critical for the future success of this team–anything short of drafting a future superstar will be a disappointment, as the Wolves need to acquire their first option before we can start discussing future championship contention for this team.


DeROK:  I think Garnett’s odds of winning a title are slightly better than his odds of not winning one.  With days off between games, and often multiple days off, Doc will be able to play the Big Three pretty heavily in the Conference and League Finals.  If KG, Ray, and Paul are on the floor together for 80-90% of the time, any opponent is going to be hard-pressed to put a better lineup on the floor.  Obviously injuries may kill their chances, but I think they’ve got a good shot against any of the Western Conference powers, especially if they have home court advantage.  It’s important to keep in mind that as good as San Antonio has been, they’ve never pulled off a back-to-back.  Right now they look like the favorite, but they’re far from unbeatable. The window for the Celtics is small, maybe only this year and the next. That’s probably the biggest argument against Garnett winning a title. I think if it were five years ago, they’d be a near-lock to at least win one. 
 
If Al Jefferson is the cornerstone, the Timberwolves have almost zero chance of winning an NBA title.  Over the previous twenty seasons only the Lakers, Pistons, Bulls, Rockets, Spurs, and Heat have won NBA Championships.  Of those twenty seasons, only once (2003-04 Pistons) did the championship team not have Magic Johnson, Isaiah Thomas, Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Tim Duncan, or Shaq on their roster.
 
My point in all of that is to say that it’s extremely difficult to win an NBA Championship.  This isn’t the World Series or Super Bowl where it’s up for grabs every season.  The teams that win usually have a superstar that is arguably one of the Top 10 All-Time greats.  Basketball is probably the least team-oriented of the team sports.  If you have that one great player and one great sidekick, you’re in good shape to win year after year.  I think you’d have to have your head checked out if you wanted to put Al Jefferson in the discussion with the players I listed above.  The Wolves real shot of winning a title is either to luck out in the draft lottery or to amass enough assets to pull off a trade for one of those big-time players, then hope that whoever is left, beit Jefferson, Foye, or a future pick, is good enough to be that great sidekick. 


We hope you all enjoyed the first TWolvesBlog Round Table Discussion.  We attempted to be as insightful, knowledgeable, and humorous as possible, while still taking things seriously.  Don’t be afraid to leave your thoughts/comments/questions below.

-  The TWolvesBlog staff


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