Finally. After months (years?) of rumors and speculation, Kevin Garnett will no longer don a Minnesota Timberwolves uniform. The T-Wolves and Celtics agreed on a deal that will send Garnett to Boston in exchange for Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff, and two first-round picks. The trade sends shockwaves through the NBA's Eastern Conference and significantly overhauls both rosters. Let's take a look at the fantasy implications of the end of the KG era in the Twin Cities.
The trade gives the Celtics arguably the league's best trio in Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen. What it also means is that they have three high-usage superstars who want and need plenty of touches. All three have experience working with legitimate "other" options on offense, and all three are smart players, so it certainly should work from a basketball standpoint. All three are likely to score a few less points on a nightly basis, but of the three, Allen stands to lose the most from the perspective of overall value. KG's post presence and Pierce's inside-outside game means they will still see much the same amount of touches, and their defensive and rebounding numbers won't change much (Garnett's should actually increase slightly). Allen may become a bit more of a three-point specialist on this roster, and at the very least I'd expect him to be the third option in the grand scheme of things. He's likely to end up posting near-career-high numbers in three pointers while seeing his scoring average dip to 20 points or fewer per game. One pleasant side effect could be reduced wear and tear on his surgically repaired ankles. None of the three studs is moving significantly on my draft board, however.
The Celtics' depth chart now looks something like this (includes unsigned rookies):
Clearly, the Celtics need to find ways to fill in the depth chart behind the starting five, so expect some signings. Rondo remains a solid sleeper candidate at point guard, on the strength of 5.8 assists, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.4 steals in 25 starts last season – don't expect him to contribute much offense, but as of right now he's looking at as many minutes as he can handle. Could this be Perkins' year? He's been working hard on his conditioning and hopes to shed as much as 30 pounds this offseason (he's already down 10), something that has seriously limited his impact to this point. Keep an eye on him when camps open, as he could end up surprising people this season. Every player not in the starting five is a key reserve at this point, with the team having dealt five players to acquire one. Glen Davis could end up making an impact as a rookie simply because of available playing time.
Minnesota is looking at exactly the opposite problem. Check out this bloated roster:
PG – Randy Foye, Sebastian Telfair, Troy Hudson
SG – Ricky Davis, Gerald Green, Rashad McCants
SF – Trenton Hassell, Ryan Gomes, Corey Brewer, Marko Jaric
PF – Al Jefferson, Juwan Howard, Craig Smith, Chris Richard
C – Mark Blount, Mark Madsen, Theo Ratliff
It's worth noting that Jefferson, Davis, Gomes, Green, Telfair, Smith, and Ratliff are all in the final years of their contracts, and the team is also currently in negotiations to buy out Hudson's final three seasons. As for how it will all shake out … Foye, Jefferson, and Davis are locks for the starting five, but it's a bit hazy after that. Be sure to target Foye this season – it's a little-known fact that his per-48 minute averages last season (21.3 points, 1.7 threes, 5.6 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.4 steals) compared favorably to Brandon Roy's (22.7 points, 1.3 threes, 5.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.6 steals), despite not having the benefit of an established role or consistent playing time. Davis' line should remain pretty much the same, and he's a nice draft-day target if he can build on his career-highs of 1.5 threes per game and 40 percent shooting from behind the arc. Jefferson broke out for 16/11 last season, including 20/12 after the All-Star break. Expectations will be sky-high as he "replaces" Garnett, but he's emerged as one of the best young big men in the league – as long as T-Wolves fans and fantasy owners aren't looking for KG-like lines from the outset, but rather simply building on last season's success, then they won't be disappointed.
Small forward is a real quandary for the Wolves – Hassell is the incumbent, but he's a defensive specialist who is likely an inferior defender to Brewer and is a massive offensive liability. A changing of the guard overall could mean Hassell is replaced by Gomes, Green, Brewer, or McCants in the starting lineup, as Davis can play either shooting guard or small forward. Green and McCants have the ability to post solid offensive numbers, Brewer's main contributions would come from his plus-defensive ability, and Gomes is good for steady but unspectacular play. One wild-card scenario would be Jefferson at center, with Howard, Smith, or Gomes starting at the four. Blount has firmly-established limitations, both in real life and fantasy hoops. Minnesota may not be done making moves, either. With so many expiring contracts and young players, they've got a number of commodities that are highly sought-after in today's NBA.
- Ryan Gomes