It's official: Kevin Garnett has been traded. KG goes to the Celtics for Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, the expiring contracts of Theo Ratliff, Ryan Gomes, and Sebastian Telfair, and 2 #1 picks- the Wolves own that they gave up in the Wally Deal, and a 2009 1st rounder that's Top 3 protected. Long story short Jefferson could be a really nice player, Green has shown huge potential (which means he could be the next Tracy McGrady, or more likely, the next Darius Miles), Gomes and Telfair could be contributors before they hit free agency next summer, and I'd be surprised if the oft-injured 34 year old Ratliff ever makes it to Minnesota.
Still not sure what to think of the deal for Minnesota. For Boston? Really had to happen, and I wondered as much to Jer on draft night when they dealt for Ray Allen but didn't have to give up Jefferson or Ratliff's expiring deal, leaving them the two key pieces for Garnett still in play. The Celtics should be able to find some decent bench players to fill in the holes, and with Garnett, Paul Pierce and Allen they have to be the favorites in the East. For the Wolves this was really inevitable, and I would have rather it gone down before the draft than after. There SEEMED to be some better deals out there, especially before the draft, but there's no way of knowing for sure what was available and what wasn't. They did get Jefferson and a couple of picks, but getting that much cap relief is huge for their rebuilding. Within that same Strib story is word that the Wolves have already bought out the last 2 years of Troy Hudson's deal, and you wonder how long Ricky Davis (not exactly a good influence for the kiddies), Trent Hassel, Mark Blount, Marko Jaric, and the newly acquired Juwan Howard will be around. The story also points out that even by letting Hudson go the Pups still have 16 players under contract for next year. 16! So there's more work for McHale, or work for Freddy Hoiberg to undo all of McHale's messes. Actually, read this from former Strib beat writer Steve Aschburner (who it looks like latched on at SI.com), who, being that he's a professional writer and all, sums up the whole situation and McHale's awful tenure much better than I ever could.
As a Wolves fan you can't be happy about this. You lose an amazing player in Garnett and receive nothing that's a sure thing in return. However, they were going to be the worst team in the West with or without Garnett, so at least this will help speed the rebuilding process. A nucleus of Jefferson, Randy Foye, Rashad McCants, Craig Smith, Green, and #1 pick Corey Brewer isn't going to pack Target Center, but it's a start, and when the cap relief comes this summer and continues in the coming seasons as more and more of McHale's awful signings come off the books, there'll be more opportunities.
How many Wolves fans will be left after today will be interesting to see, as they have fallen completely off the sporting map in the Twin Cities. Fans were already staying away from Target Center in droves last year, and whether Garnett got dealt or not, there wasn't a lot of hope coming into this year. With Garnett gone, they're starting over, and in the minds of the vast majority of Upper Midwest sports fans, the Wolves have, to borrow a phrase from Mr. Mike Tyson, fallen into "Bolivian."
In the end, a huge thanks to KG. You gave Timberwolves fans 12 years of hard work and tireless effort every single night. Too bad McHale couldn't do the same, or you might have had more success. Good luck in Boston.
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