Back when the Celtics obtained Kevin Garnett from the Wolves--for Theo Ratliff, a bunch of no-name kids, a pair of draft picks, and cash-- practically everyone said Danny Ainge had taken advantage of his old Celtic buddy Kevin McHale. Some in Minnesota even suspected a Celtic conspiracy. Since then, with the Celtics racing off to the best record in the league, McHale has become the butt of jokes.
But I had my doubts initially as to who had really gotten the better of that deal. I wasn't that familiar with some of the young players the Celts had given up, but I knew Ainge had considered them major talents. In the end, with his job on the line, maybe he'd been forced to give up the Celtics' future in order to keep his job. Garnett would bring short-term respectability but no titles to the Celtics, whereas the Wolves would now be in a position to contend long-term.
I admit the Celtics' fast start made me question that assessment of the trade. They HAVE looked like world-beaters. But watching the young Wolves last night--with all of those young former Celtics (Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, and Sebastian Telfair) playing fairly well--I got to wondering again. Add Randy Foye and two more lottery picks to that mix, shake, stir, and wait a few seasons, and the Wolves could be battling the Blazers for Western Conference supremacy. At least that seems conceivable.
Meanwhile, the Celtics could have faded back into the Eastern cellar. Sure they look strong now. But the Pistons or Spurs could knock them off this season, and Ray Allen could easily break down next year. Where will that leave them?
So: do you feel that Ainge really got the best of McHale? Or could it be the other way around?