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Another Rumor and a Comment

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I hadn't  heard this rumor yet, as advanced by the by Racine Journal Times, via HoopsHype:

Rumors still flying

With the NBA draft less than two weeks away – June 26th, to be precise – rumors continue to swirl around the Bucks.

There has been ample talk the Bucks would like to package their No. 1 pick and a player — perhaps Charlie Villanueva – for an established player – or to move up in the draft — possibly with Minnesota at No. 3 — to possibly select Southern California guard O.J. Mayo.

It’s no secret the Timberwolves are receptive to moving back and acquiring another player, especially considering they have so many holes to plug.

There are also whispers both Washington — which has the 18th pick — and Golden State — which has the 14h pick — are more than willing to unload their picks.

Golden State has shown interest in Villanueva and Bucks power forward Yi Jianlian in the past. The Wizards apparently are looking for a player who can immediately fit into their rotation.

While Villanueva is okay, I don't think I'd make that deal. The Wolves would be Charlie's third team in four years, and while he could pose some matchup problems for opposing teams, would anyone really care that much?

Apologize for doubting KG?

Between work, watching the tributes regarding Tim Russert's death, and attending graduation parties, I ended up reading Britt Robson's latest Rake entry only yesterday. As I've said before, Britt's the gold standard in online sports opinion around here, and wouldn't take a backseat to anyone on a national scale. He's that good. His blindspot for one Kevin Garnett, however, is taking on small nebula proportions. His post has been well responded to; whatever I could offer on the subject would be well buried--if not somewhat irrelevant--but I'll throw a couple things out here, mostly because I can, and I'm feeling contrarian today.

Here's the most interesting part (for me anyway) of his entry:

Put me in the long line of people who need to apologize for doubting Kevin Garnett, who in his first year away from the dysfunctional gulag of Minnesota, is on the verge of accomplishing all anyone could ask of him. And remember that the man who belongs at the head of that line is Kevin McHale.

I'm still scratching my head on that one. I would certainly agree that the Wolves are an organizational gulag, but it's one where the gates were biometrically attuned to KG's DNA. Any time this guy wanted out, the doors would have automatically swung open. I suspect however, that it wasn't just loyalty, it was the fact that he had two upper echelon, 100 plus million dollar contracts he was able to negotiate that had a lot to do with his sticking around for as long as he did, and the fact he was THE MAN here, for better or worse. The only way he agreed to leave wasn't until a cherry picked, veteran team could be assembled AND a significant salary extension could again be negotiated. It was clear by the end not only that McHale failed miserably, but that Garnett wasn't capable of being the clear number one guy here, not without once again breaking the bank and revisiting the "failed experiment"--acquiring veterans who would still demand to get paid major coin themselves. It seems to me there's plenty of blame--and stubborness--to go around. If a guy can't stay enthused about being here and demand more after two big, salary cap eating contracts and having an adoring fan base who still held him relatively blameless, then not only should he go, but maybe we fans are the ones who are owed an apology.

What this year has proven to me is that the Celtics received probably the greatest table setter in NBA history. Yes, KG brought an intensity and helped revitalize a moribund team, but again, if the Boston players couldn't get buzzed about their team participating in the perfect storm of quality player acquistions and signficant salary extensions...well, the word soulless comes to mind. Spending premium dollars to assemble a championship team doesn't always work (ask the Yankees), but the Tri-Core up to this point hadn't won a damn thing. It's to their credit--all three of them--that they checked their egos at the door and worked to realize their dream.

What this playoff season has proved to me is that for the Celtics, Paul Pierce is THE MAN, with KG being 1A. Folks can argue about who's Butch or Sundance all they want, but particularly in these finals if Pierce, and the Boston bench, don't perform, the Celtics aren't primed to win a championship. I think KG is a great, great player, but the foundation? I would certainly give Pierce, and to a smaller degree Ray Allen, a piece of the rock. It couldn't have happened without them.

KG's doing what he's always done, but now he doesn't have to close. He can have two subpar Finals games and bad shooting nights, and the Celtics are still in the hunt. No one ever doubted his ability, or questioned his heart. But I think they've simply performed as expected--not an easy task by any means, but one that was certainly in reach if the kids played well together. And, they have, big time. I still think given the amount of money he was paid here in Minnesota, he could have been a better leader, or even played on the block a little more. Nothing he does in Beantown will ever change that, and I certainly am not going to be in that long line of KG apologists for thinking that way.