“With the 5th pick in the 1995 NBA Draft…the Minnesota Timberwolves select Kevin Garnett from Farragut Academy, Chicago, ILL.”…
At this time, no one other than Glen Taylor and Kevin McHale thought that this kid from Mauldin, SC was worth the risk. Although he was named High School player of the year and McDonalds All-American game MVP, with a draft filled with several proven collegiate players (i.e. Jerry Stackhouse, Joe Smith, Antonio McDyess, Rasheed Wallace) it seemed that with the 5th pick that the Wolves would/should have taken a player who had been through the college level. The Wolves took a huge risk in taking a player straight from high school, the first time it had happened since 1975. Who was that player? Darryl “Chocolate Thunder” Dawkins. Exactly 20 years later the Timberwolves take a chance on another 6’11” high school student with freak-ish abilities and with the exact same pick, coincidence?...I think not.
This was the legacy and mysticism that surrounded Garnett’s career from the beginning. Unfortunately, until he wins a title, he will only be remembered for one thing. From 1997 until 2004, the Timberwolves could not make it past the first round of the NBA playoffs. Every year, Garnett was criticized by the legends that he idolized the most. Who can forget when Magic Johnson was on TNT and more or less called out KG by saying that he was being too un-selfish. This killed Kevin to hear his idol say this. That summer, KG worked harder than he ever had. Unlike previous years, the Timberwolves had done some hard work as well. With the signings of veterans Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell, the Timberwolves had the most seasoned team since their conception in 1989. It proved a great move as the Wolves went 58-24 and made it to the Western Conference Finals but lost to the Lakers in 5. The 2004-2005 season started with the Wolves being an early favorite for the NBA title after keeping the core of their team. Unfortunately, the team fell apart. Cassell and Sprewell had contract disputes and longtime coach Flip Saunders was fired midseason to be replaced by Kevin McHale.
Since then, the story has been the same. Garnett gets older and the Wolves get younger. He has been in the league now for 13 years and even though he is only 31 years old…his prime years are coming and going quickly. With many trade rumors lately surrounding KG, the Timberwolves and Garnett NEED to part ways.
The Timberwolves and Garnett must face it, he is getting older and they aren’t getting better. With so many years of being beat on, working hard and having to carry the team, we must look at Garnett’s age in dog years. I believe you have to multiply by 6, this would make Garnett…about 186 years old. Now, obviously this is a bit of a stretch but you really have to put in perspective the stress that has been put upon Garnett since he’s been in the league. If the Timberwolves plan on winning in the future they need to get something in return. Teams around the league know that he is getting older and if the Wolves want any value for Garnett, now is the time. Statistically, with the exception of his 2004 MVP season, Garnett’s numbers have slid somewhat. Still one of the most consistent and dominant players in the league, you can’t help but notice that he is getting aged. The ’06-07 season saw Garnett’s shooting percentage dip to its lowest total since the ’01-02 season (.476/.470). The only statistic that has gotten better with time has been his rebounding average (averaging an even 13.0 RPG since 2004). Yes he has intangibles, but the statistics don’t lie. No team is going to trade away their young nucleus for an aging player with maybe 2 or 3 good years left in him. If this franchise feels it has any future in the NBA win column, now is the time to trade.
But the NBA also needs this to happen. Who are some players that come to mind when one thinks of greatness in the NBA. Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. What do these players all have in common? They all were part of championship teams. The NBA lives on the legacies of its greatest players. It would be a blow to the NBA to have a player as great as Garnett to have the career he has had and end it with no titles. Imagine Bird or Magic with no titles. No one would be talking about Magic’s great passing skills or Bird’s automatic shot without the sentence “He was one of the best who played without ever getting a title”. Unless Garnett is traded to a title contending team (i.e. NOT THE CELTICS), that phrase is all that we will here for years to come, “Kevin Garnett, he was one of the best who played without ever getting that title”. It will eat away at Garnett and it will hurt the NBA as well, to have a player of his caliber never hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy.
The Wolves also owe this to Kevin. Trading Garnett to a contender would be the utmost showing of respect that they could do. The amount of trust and respect that Garnett has put into Taylor and McHale is innumerable. I actually calculated what McHale and Taylor could give Garnett in return for the amount of respect he has put in them. Along with a trade (to a title contender) they would have to give him a lifetime supply of Chipotle (with the options of no beans), a chance at the Governorship of MN for 2011, a shot on American Idol and a stipulation that when he is retired he can be the new host of Price is Right. Throughout the 7 years of losing in the first round of the playoffs, Garnett was asked if he’d want to be traded. It was the same response every year, “I don’t just jump ship, and I’ve committed myself and here for the long haul.” Year in and year out, Garnett put faith into McHale and Taylor and they let him down. Out of the 12 years that he’s been with the Wolves, only one year have they respected him enough to put together a team that could get him the championship. They’ve abused Garnett’s loyalty. If the McHale and Taylor have any shred of dignity and respect for Garnett, 2006-2007 will have been Garnett’s last of a great career in Minnesota.
Many will argue, mostly in Minnesota, that Garnett should not be traded. I, just as much as the next person, want to see Garnett ride into the Minnesota sunset with the Larry O’Brien trophy in hand. Unfortunately, the sun may have already set for Garnett in Minnesota.