The Wolves have acquired Kevin Garnett from the Nets in exchange for Thaddeus Young. These will presumably be the final 29 games of Garnett's career, and he will play them in the uniform of the team he started with, stuck with for 12 years, and became an All-Star and MVP with.
This is a classic heart vs. head trade from my point of view.
Let's start here: Kevin Garnett is my favorite. I absolutely loved watching him play with the Wolves, and later with the Celtics; his skills, passion, and desire to win were always on display, and he was the undisputed centerpiece of the one good era in Timberwolves basketball. He's now obviously at the end of his career, and not the player he once was, but despite that, I'm actually thrilled that he will finish things out here with our favorite team, where it all started.
It also may smooth the path to KG becoming a part of this franchise once his playing days are over. He's spoken about wanting to own the Timberwolves some day, and certainly it's easy to imagine an immediate post-playing role for him with the organization, one that could ultimately lead to ownership.
But realistically, this is terrible asset management. Following on the heels of what I view as a clear overpay for Adreian Payne, trading a 26 year old quality NBA player for a nostalgia tour that will last a couple of months is bad business. The Wolves used a first round pick they acquired in the Kevin Love trade to get Thaddeus Young. Less than a season later they are moving Young for the final games of Kevin Garnett.
The pick is a sunk cost, yes, and there is no need to belabor it. I liked the trade for Thad, and still think it was a move worth making. The point is this: They could have done better. Thad Young is not without value, and using him this way strikes me as very short sighted. I understand the desire to get some more tickets sold the rest of the season, but that hardly seems a good reason to make this trade.
I like Thad Young, and was hoping he would opt in to the final year of his contract. He was the best available option as a power forward for next season as things stood, and having him on a reasonable one year deal would have been a good thing.
As things currently stand, there is yet another gaping hole at power forward for next season, and the Wolves have limited assets available to fill it. Payne and/or Bennett cannot be counted on; any positive stuff you get from those guys is a bonus, but expecting one of them to be the starter would be foolish. The draft might offer some options, but again we don't know who will be available when the Wolves pick, and you can't expect a ton of help from a rookie, especially if he's a teenager as seems likely. That means they will have to find a way to fill that hole with a veteran via free agency or trade. The reality is that whatever player they get via one of those methods is going to have flaws just as Thad Young has flaws.
Even if you don't think Young is the long term solution for this team, there is no way he wouldn't have been valuable in another deal either now, in the summer, or next deadline. Even if you know or think you know that Young plans to opt out this summer, it's hard for me to imagine that there isn't a team that would have taken him on in exchange for some value. Arron Afflalo netted a protected first rounder and other stuff. Whether a player or a draft pick, the Wolves should have been able to get something of longer term value for a quality player in his prime than the last few weeks of Kevin Garnett's career.
The Wolves will no doubt emphasize KG's ability to "mentor" younger guys, which might have some validity, though his track record in this area is not at all clear, and he isn't going to be around for all that many practices. Perhaps there is something there and it adds a tiny bit of value, but you have to go through some contortions to convince yourself that it's significant.
Ultimately, this trade is about getting fans excited enough to buy some tickets. But the way you get people to buy tickets is by putting a winning team on the floor, something the Wolves have been unable to accomplish. Thad Young, either as a player on the Wolves, or as part of a trade for something with some long term value, could have been helped create a winning team here. Instead we get 14 home games where people get to see KG in a Wolves jersey once more, and Glen Taylor gets to sit courtside and pretend it's 2004.
I plan to enjoy the nostalgia of watching Kevin Garnett play for the Wolves once again. It brings back fond memories. But I can't say I approve of this trade. Valuing assets properly is one of the most vital elements of running an NBA franchise, and this is another indication that Flip Saunders doesn't value them in a way that makes sense to me.