There should be no attempt to analyze the latest and last Kevin Garnett trade from a basketball angle. This was strictly a move made to do right by a legend. It won’t act as symbolic as, say, the one-day contract NFL players sometimes sign with favored teams prior to retirement, but it’s not far off. KG can still play and he would have helped a contender down the stretch this season, but he also doesn’t like change and didn’t want to back into another team’s championship run.
The Brooklyn Nets traded Garnett back to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday in exchange for forward Thaddeus Young, David Aldridge was the first to report the move. Garnett had to waive the no-trade clause in his contract in order to make this happen, the same no-trade clause he waived in order to become a Brooklyn Net in 2013. Garnett had no such clause in his contract when the lacking Timberwolves dealt him to Boston in 2007, but the team still waited until he gave a years-late go-ahead to be traded in order to do right by a person that will probably be the best player the Timberwolves ever have – a designation that will probably stay in place even if Andrew Wiggins leads the Wolves to a championship someday.
Garnett never had the sort of supporting cast that Wolves coach and president Flip Saunders hopes to put around Wiggins in Minnesota. The best group of his era came during KG’s MVP year in 2003-04, a season that saw the Wolves felled by injury at the absolute worst time in the playoffs. That year stands as the last time Minnesota made the postseason, and the fact that Garnett may have even improved on his MVP year the following season speaks volumes about how MVP voters tend to oftentimes vote for the best player with the best team.
The 2015-version of the Garnett deal is not an admission that the Timberwolves erred in dealing him back in 2007. Minnesota received a 20-and-10 guy in Al Jefferson and cap space in return, and they should have been able to move on. No, this deal is an admission that the move to grab Young from the Philadelphia 76ers last summer (in a part of the otherwise-fine deal for Wiggins) was needless and shortsighted. Minnesota now owes the 76ers a pick they grabbed from the Heat a while back, a selection that could be an unprotected first-round draft pick in 2017, unless Miami falls into the top ten in 2016 or this year.
Even with Minnesota’s promising core, they may not even get out of the top ten themselves by then, and Wolves fans will have to steel themselves to the realization that they may have to give up a significant draft pick in the future in return for 46 games of Thaddeus Young.
Having Kevin Garnett around to cheer for, as the Timberwolves finish out a season that currently sees them at the bottom of the Western Conference, will help. Saunders, who kick-started KG’s career by giving the rookie extended minutes after Saunders himself took over as a rookie coach, will no doubt try to convince Garnett to remain a member of the Timberwolves franchise following the expiration of his contract and his probable retirement this summer.
If Garnett wants to wait a while on deciding to take up Saunders’ offer, it’s fine. He’s certainly earned a break.
Then again ...
AP Source: The Timberwolves are not bringing KG back for just this year. They want to do a 2-year extension with him.
— Jon Krawczynski (@APkrawczynski) February 19, 2015
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