FanPost

Did the Wolves get Jonny Flynn in the KG Trade?  NO!


Lots of discussion after the Jefferson trade about what the Timberwolves ended up with from trading KG when all is said and done.  I keep seeing posts saying the Jonny Flynn pick was part of the KG trade.  I think I can explain both why this not really true, AND why so many people believe it.

Most people consider Jonny Flynn to be the first round pick that the Timberwolves owed Boston, which was returned in the KG trade.

To see if Jonny Flynn should be considered part of this deal or not, here's what I propose:  Imagine the Wolves and Boston made this exact same KG trade, except Boston did NOT return the first round pick.  What pick would Boston actually have received, assuming everything else played out the same way after the trade? I think that's the fairest way to describe what the return of the pick actually gave the Timberwolves.

Here's the full story of the two important 1st round picks the Timberwolves have traded away in the last 5-6 years.  Buckle up, it's going to be a long ride:

In August 2005 (after the draft), the Timberwolves gave a protected 1st-round pick to the Clippers for Marco Jaric.  This pick was protected, so it could be delivered to the Clippers anytime between 2006 and 2012 depending on how good the Timberwolves record was.  NBA rules said you can't trade your picks more than 7 drafts into the future, so the teams agreed that the pick would be given up without protections in 2012 (the last year possible) if somehow the Timberwolves managed to be a terrible team for 6 straight years.

Along comes the January 2006 trade between Boston and Minnesota, involving Wally for Ricky Davis among other pieces.  As part of this trade, the Timberwolves agree to give a 1st round pick to Boston.  Remember, they already owe the Clippers a pick at this point.  More NBA rules about draft picks say you can't make any trades that give up your first round pick 2 years in a row.

How can the Wolves trade a 1st round pick to the Celtics when they might have to give a pick to the Clippers next year, or any year following?  Simple, write the trade so that the Celtics get their pick 2 years after the Clippers get their pick, whenever that may be.

Alright, so now the Wolves owe 2 future first round picks.  The protected pick to the Clippers, and the pick that goes to Boston 2 years after the Clippers get theirs. 

What if, by some unfathomable set of events, the Wolves are so bad that the Clippers don't get their pick until 2012?  By the seven-year rule I mentioned above, the Timberwolves are not allowed to trade away their 2014 pick in 2006.  So as a compromise, the teams agree that the pick owed to Boston will become a 2012 (I think - maybe 2013) 2nd rounder if the Clippers pick gets deferred until the last possible year.

How do ESPN and other media sources report the Boston pick in 2006?  Do they explain the complicated chain of protections and hypotheticals I just outlined?  No way, this is way too much information for a national audience when it's not the main point of your article.

The general way these complicated conditional picks get described is to just list the earliest possible year they MIGHT get transferred.  If you're writing an article between the 2006 and 2007 drafts, and you want to describe the 2 picks the Timberwolves owe, you just say they owe the Clippers their 2007 pick and the Celtics their 2009 pick.  That's the soonest the picks might move, and it's easier to say that than to explain the whole story.

If you find any articles that try to quickly describe the 1st round pick owed to the Celtics, they will use this shorthand.  If written a few months after the Wally-Ricky trade, they will describe the Clippers pick as a 2007 (next draft) pick and the Boston pick as 2009 (2 years later).

This "shorthand" description of the picks is why you'll find, in articles written between August 2006 and July 2007, lots of "proof" that the Timberwolves owed Boston a 2009 1st round pick.  In reality, they owed Boston a pick that might be delivered anytime between 2009 and 2012.

Anybody still with me?  I think I've now covered why so many people THINK the pick that got returned was a 2009 pick (thanks to the media shorthand for the extremely complicated pick that was actually owed.)

Again, let's pretend the KG trade went down without the pick being returned.  The pick to Boston would still be owed, but wouldn't have to be delivered until 2 years after the Clippers get the Wolves' first rounder.

Now, it's coming up on the magic year of 2012, and it's pretty clear that the Clippers won't get their pick until 2012.  That means the pick we owe to Boston becomes a 2nd rounder in 2012 (maybe 2013)  as explained above.

In the hypothetical world where the pick was NOT returned, Boston would NOT have received our 2009 1st round pick.  What Boston would get is this 2nd round pick.  Therefore, I think it's fair to say what we really got back from Boston was this 2nd rounder, not the 2009 1st round pick we used on Jonny Flynn.

Anybody know for sure what year that 2nd rounder actually would have gone out?  Anybody able to back me up on the facts above, preferably with links?

Sorry all, but I'll be posting intermittently until next week.  If you care about this topic nearly as much as I do, (a) what's wrong with you? and (b) I'll reply to any comments, accusations of being an idiot, or requests for more info next week!

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