In response to Marc Stein's Daily Dime article at ESPN.com this weekend, titled "It's Time to Trade Kevin Garnett", a couple folks have e-mailed to ask about the possibilities and even more are speculating in various forums. We already covered this a little this summer, but here's my take.
I see three major issues in the way of any possible trade for KG:
- He's 30 years old. He was drafted out of high school and played heavy minutes immediately (and has consistently since) so he's a high-mileage 30 to boot. While his play hasn't declined appreciably yet he is on the downslope of his career path. I doubt his career will end at 32, but he needs to go someplace that he has a chance to win big within the next 2-3 years. That isn't Portland. I imagine he'd be more than reluctant to come here. From the Blazers' point of view, while our play would undoubtedly be improved by adding a superstar presence, it's unlikely that KG alone would propel us to the promised land immediately. Even assuming our current cast is strong enough to support such a run (which is a big assumption) we wouldn't be ready to make it until KG's star had waned. In short, the timing just isn't right for either party.
- The Stein article made it quite clear that Minnesota wouldn't be trading Garnett because of dissatisfaction with his play, but because he has the choice to opt out of his contract in 2007-08. The fear is that he would do so, forsaking money in order to sign somewhere for less and pursue a ring. The only way they would trade him is if they were convinced he'd do exactly that, leaving them in the lurch. The article was also clear that many folks in the know claim that Garnett still has fierce loyalty to the `Wolves and part of him wants to be known as the next Kirby Puckett (huge hometown hero) in the Northland. Now, if the Timberwolves were so convinced that KG would leave them in the lurch even considering his great loyalty--so convinced that they decided to trade him away--what would he do to us to whom he has absolutely no loyalty, no history, nothing? If we could get him, we'd probably be getting him for a year. While you could argue that wiping some big salaries off our cap would be a good thing, we can probably get expiring contracts for much less talent than acquiring Garnett would cost us.
- The biggest problem is, and always has been, who are you going to trade for him? Most suggestions I've seen involve names like Zach, Magloire, Outlaw, and Webster. Despite the early-season stat production Zach is less than 20 days removed from being absolutely untradeable period, let alone for a superstar. He also has a huge, long-term contract. Magloire has been playing pretty poorly. Outlaw is sporadic and worth little compared to KG. Webster has been underperforming or else people would not have thrown his name in. Why, exactly, would the `Wolves be eager to trade the most popular and productive player they've ever had--the all-time face of their franchise--for this bunch, individually or as a group? Do they not watch tapes? Here's a basic rule of thumb for these situations: If you actually want to trade somebody for a guy of KG's stature, you can't trade that person for a guy of KG's stature. And I know you can quote the Miami-L.A. Shaq trade but that was a very strange circumstance and we've all seen how well it worked for the team that dumped their superstar. I don't think other clubs will be eager to follow in their footsteps. Unless you start talking terms like Roy PLUS Jack or Aldridge PLUS this year's first round pick PLUS Zach you can't even begin to sniff at KG. And if you traded all that away we'd be in the same boat Minnesota is in now, which ain't that pretty.