We thought we'd try something new: an email round table among the writers of Canis Hoopus about the Kevin Garnett trade. This also gives me the opportunity to introduce our newest writer Lindsey Young, aka LindseyMNSports. She joins us from TImberpups.com among other places, and will start contributing articles soon. We are pleased to have her and expect good things. GIve her a nice welcome.
Here's how it went:
Eric in Madison: I want to try something we haven't done before if you are up for it. I thought we could have an email "round table" about the KG trade over the course of the next day or so then publish it on the site over the weekend.
I have a bunch of angles I want to hit on this, but I'll just start by saying that despite my intellectual reservations, I'm thrilled. KG is back and is going to finish his career in a Wolves jersey. That's pretty awesome. It brings back a ton of memories for me--Game 7 against Sacramento anyone?
You guys remember that movie "Back to School" when Rodney Dangerfield recites the Dylan Thomas poem "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Goodnight"? I remembered that yesterday. I love that KG rages against his limitations and against losing. I don't know whether the "teaching" element of this that Flip spoke about yesterday will be real or not, but just thinking about that KG intensity in a Wolves uniform makes me smile.
I know that Flip approaches things in ways that I usually don't agree with, but I'm not going to let that get in the way of my joy in having my favorite player back for his swan song.
David Naylor: This might just be a perception thing, but if AB's problems have had anything to do with effort this year, an angry KG in his face will fix it or nothing will. While we likely would have the chance to add KG to the team's staff at the end of the season or whenever he's done, starting that transition now isn't necessarily the worst idea from a motivation perspective. Basketball-wise, I would have liked there to be more than KG and Thad in the trade, but I can live with this. I like Thad's game, but if he was simply going to be moved as an expiring next year or over the summer (if he picked up his option), much less just walk, it's good to get something for him. I wish I knew more about what Dallas's package for him looked like before they picked up Amar'e. Then again, I don't, because it would probably make me sad.
It will be amazing to see KG back in a Wolves uniform, and as John pointed out in this morning's thread, he should actually have a positive effect on defense and rebounding, so there are rays of light in this deal right now. The future beyond this year is what concerns me more than anything, both contract and healthwise. For the moment, I'm pretty content to look forward to Wednesday night, because it should be a pretty ridiculous occasion.
John Meyer: Can you take everything I wrote this morning about KG? Just kidding, I'll have a more succinct answer for you later on once my brain recovers from that post. KG was an idol growing up, but one thing Canis has taught me is to leave the heart out of assessment as much as possible. It's made me be more objective while looking at these moves and it's hard to support trading Thad Young when I wanted him to stick around; the Wolves could have signed Garnett in free agency this summer if they wanted him so badly. From a pure basketball perspective this trade looks awful, but that's also not the reason it was done in the first place. Maybe Thad was going to exercise his ETO, or maybe he wasn't and the organization didn't want to take his $9.7 million cap hit next season, who really knows besides him and the front office. Of course Milt and Flip will say that Young's reps had been expressing that he wanted out, but we'll never know for sure.
Eric in Madison: This is a good point and something I've been thinking about. What about Thad? My thought was that I wanted him to stick around, at least for one more year. That might or might not have been possible, but I like Thad and thought he did good stuff for the team. He was one of the better defensive players the Wolves had, and his ability to play heavy minutes meant less minutes going to frankly poor players. This opens up another hole for next year that has to be filled one way or another, and it makes me nervous. We've seen in recent seasons that derailment is often as much about NOT playing terrible players as it is about having great ones.
LindseyMNSports: I think I echo the feelings of most Timberwolves fans when I consider this a bittersweet move in my book. I am beyond excited to see KG back in Minnesota (Yes, I'm wearing my #21 jersey at work today), but I'm also disappointed to see Young leave the team after less than a season here (and let's be honest--I bought a Thad jersey 4 weeks ago). I think him losing his mom and going through that process did throw off his performance a bit, but overall he was producing great things here. That being said, however, I think it was becoming clear that Young didn't plan to stay in MN very long, so it makes sense that the Wolves were looking to deal him. They shopped him a couple of times to other teams, and there were no bites on his contract.
After stewing on the trade overnight, I've come to the realization that I'm pretty okay with it. Garnett won't give us the minutes and point totals that Young has, which is just the reality of a 38-year-old, but he will improve our defense--even if it's just for the short-term. For team morale, I think it's 100% helpful. Rubio has already made comments about being excited to learn from one of the best, and you know the first dish from Rubio to KG for a slam will blow the doors off the Target Center. I'm really hoping he will be a mentor to some of the younger guys and step into that role well. Garnett has been a bit of a pain for the media and such over the past few years, but I think his attitude here will be positive. He wants to be here, otherwise he would not have waived the no-trade clause.
Either way, the 14-year-old Wolves fan in me is over the moon to see The Big Ticket back in a Wolves jersey!
ZacharyBD: As we know, Kevin Garnett has returned to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Yesterday, a poll was published on this website that asked readers what they think about Kevin Garnett returning to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Here are the results as of 12:20 PM.
36% (690) of voters are excited to see Garnett back in a Wolves uniform but believe the cost was too high.
27% (519) of voters are happy to have him around a while and believe trading Thad Young was worth it.
20% (378) of voters would have possibly paid more for KG--I'm assuming.
18% (338) of voters think it's a terrible trade and a horrific use of assets.
In a separate poll over at StarTribune.com...
41% (1991) of voters believe this is ‘great thing.'
22% (1047) of voters don't think this is something to be ‘excited about.'
22% (1043) of voters believe this is an ‘ok move.'
16% (766) of voters believe this is a ‘horrible idea.'
The trade for Kevin Garnett, in theory, ensures younger players will have a mentor to look up to, but it also guarantees some degree of fan engagement. For me, the best part of this trade is that people are talking about the Timberwolves again.
The ‘casual fan' will embrace Garnett's return, presumably opening the door for the organization to sell more tickets and merchandise. The Wolves are 29th in attendance. We'll see if that number increases. I think it will.
The dedicated Wolves fans are more concerned about whether or not Garnett can leave an impression not just on the court, but in the locker room and practice facilities as well. Garnett is a proven leader that turned himself from a kid that couldn't pass the SAT into an NBA MVP, but he isn't the player he was 10 years ago. Garnett knows what it takes to become a great player but he should know that his time as a dominant force in the league are over.
Will Garnett show Wiggins, Rubio, LaVine, etc. what it takes to become a great player? By returning to the Minnesota, one can certainly assume he intends to at least try.
He is the most well respected player in franchise history--no Wolves fan has ever *not* cheered for Garnett. Wolves fans of all varieties, young and old, are now hoping for Garnett to leave an impact that extends beyond the court. At the very least, and even if it's only temporary, Garnett's return brings Wolves fans together again--that's what I think matters the most.
Eric in Madison: Another good point. I agree there is value in exciting the casual fan and getting some more bodies in Target Center even beyond the value to Glen Taylor's wallet. The Wolves have to engage the fan base and give the impression that they are an exciting product with something to offer. On the other hand, how long will the "Garnett buzz" last? Ultimately, they have to win to get any consistent growth or momentum with the fans. That's something they haven't been able to do in a while.
So it sounds like possibly one of the reasons KG was willing to waive his no-trade was the temptation of an extension, perhaps even for two years. Does that worry you? The power forward position seems all of a sudden crowded with guys who are probably backups...where do you see that position going heading into next year?
LindeyMNSports: I like the idea that this will be more than a "two-month victory lap" like Jon Krawczynski said yesterday on KFAN. Having Garnett around for at least another full season after this will be a good thing for his experience, team morale, and increased pressure on defense--even if he only plays 15-20 minutes a game. That being said, I'll admit the idea of extending it up to two years seems a bit risky to me. At that point, I'm hoping that the Wolves don't spend an exorbitant amount of cash on him. Yes, he's KG. But he's 38-year-old KG.
As far as the PF position being a bit overloaded, it definitely is. And we still don't have one solid starter at that position. I may be jumping off the Anthony Bennett bandwagon a bit too early, but I'm over him. I think he's proven that he doesn't have what it takes to really make an impact in the NBA. In all honesty, I would usually rather see "Always-Ready" Hummel coming off the bench at that spot than AB. My hope is that Adreian Payne pans out into something more than he was able to demonstrate with Atlanta, and that he becomes a solid part of the lineup. We have a couple months to see what he has to offer, and if it's just not there, that's a position that we need to go out and get a starter for--no question. In my mind, AB needs to go. Maybe Hummel as well. With adding KG to the lineup, there's only so much room for backups.
ZacharyBD: Well, Milt Newton was on the radio this morning (1500) and said that the assertion the Wolves will sign KG to an extension is false. Newton said--paraphrasing here--that KG is here for the next 27 games. At the end of the year they'll renegotiate a deal that will keep him here, but I'm not sure extension is the correct term here.
Garnett has made a ton of money, so if he re-signs it may very well be for the veterans minimum. Regardless, I don't think he'll burden the team financially in a way that prevents them from signing a free agent.
I'm convinced the goal is to make sure that Garnett is in some capacity involved with the franchise long-term, whether it be as an owner, consultant, assistant coach, or whatever. The rest of the season will determine what type of impact Garnett has on the younger players, and then I think they'll go from there.
If everyone is on the same page, then they're going to do what they believe is best for the team.
But there is a lot that has yet to be determined.Anthony Bennett has played underwhelmingly throughout the season, which is why I think Flip hopes Adreian Payne is competent enough to contribute right away. The Wolves know they can only get so much from Garnett, and thus they are depending on Bennett and Payne to just not embarrass themselves throughout the remainder of the season. Once it's over, and the Wolves find themselves with a top 10 draft pick in the offseason, Flip will assess the situation accordingly.
But indeed, there is a void at PF that will need to be fulfilled before the Wolves can become serious contenders in the Western Conference.
Key Dae: It does change the look of things to now know that Young had requested a trade. Even if you didn't believe Thad was a real solution, he was easily the best available, realistic option the Wolves had a power forward, and signing him long term (or at least letting him pick up the player option on his contract) was the best way to stop the bleeding, so to speak. But if he didn't want to be here, then keeping him around wasn't really an option. I mean, I guess the Wolves could have forced him to stay, but that's not a good look, and quite frankly, Thad's earned the privilege of being in a winning situation.
I don't blame Thad for wanting a change. This was not an ideal situation for him...an awkward roster fit and what unfortunately turned into another full-on rebuilding situation (also, his wife seemed less than thrilled with the weather) Thad already paid those dues in Philadelphia. He's a good player and good people, so if he sees an opportunity to choose his destination he deserves to take it. I can't hold that against him.
Brooklyn's been chasing Thad basically since day one. Their GM, Billy King, was the original Thad guy back when he ran the Sixers. That would explain why the local guys where all caught by surprise by this after expecting nothing to happen at the deadline, while the national guy, Marc Stein (a Wolves homer with a lot of connections to the Flip Saunders wheelhouse) saw it as huge news. For the Minnesota beat, a call about Thad was just another Tuesday. The Nets were *always* calling about Thad.
One would think Thad asked for a trade fairly far out in advance. It probably wasn't something that happened like, 3 days before the deadline. And Flip's been plotting a Garnett reunion since the day he took the job. Apparently he made a genuine attempt at it with the Love situation, but KG wasn't willing to move. That's no surprise. Anyone who knows KG knows he's a ride or die. His brand of insanely intense loyalty will sink him along with the ship, even if the ship's not worth going down with.
So with all that in mind, I have to then figure that Flip had already decided Thad was being dealt before he made the trade for Payne. That at least makes me feel a little better about it. Rather than simply lighting a first rounder on fire chasing a guy he had an infatuation with, Flip was buying a lid for a hole he knew was about to open up. Granted, that still leaves some serious questions about why he specifically picked Adreian when there were definitely other 4s on the block (Kenneth Faried, Jason Thompson and Terrence Jones to name a few off the top of my head). But it's somewhat reassuring to realize that deal wasn't made just randomly, and that spending that first round pick wasn't just a case of revolving the door just because he could.
It also makes me feel a little better knowing that this isn't (probably) going to just be a 3 month farewell tour. That's actually more reassuring that worrying, to me. Garnett's still hitting league average this year, and I think he can probably stay near that for another year yet. He's still top 20 in Defensive RPM and still one of the most cerebral rebounders and defenders in the league. He's far from a franchise player now, but if there's one thing I absolutely do trust Flip with, it's knowing how to get the most out of KG. It's not exactly ideal, especially considering he'll only play maybe 20-25 minutes a night. But the Wolves don't need the 4-spot to be a standout strength, they just need it to not be a liability. Having Garnett just to set the tone right away, especially on defense, can make up for the shortcomings. The Wolves have had a bad habit this year of getting blasted early in games this year because they're more or less sleepwalking. That won't happen with KG around, and if he's going to be around for another year or two, we at least have some time to see if Bennett or Payne can become something, rather than just having to thrown them out there blind next season.
If nothing else, Flip seems grudgingly willing to play Dieng at the 4. And he has Jahlil Okafor and Karl Towns atop his draft list, with a flotilla of other decent power forwards littered throughout the first round projections. If we get to a year from now and we're still in the same position, then I'll be really worried.
And of course, I think Garnett can do wonders for the young guys in the locker room, particularly Dieng and Payne. Dieng's got a lot of skill overlap with Garnett, but hasn't figured out the difference between just "doing stuff" and really making an impact. And Payne just has a lot of KG's fight in him. Garnett can be a great refinement furnace for that guy, in terms of teaching him how to use which tool when. If Payne's going to become something, KG is the right guy to be showing him the way.
As for the rest, he and Ricky share the same competitive fire. Don't see any problems there. Flip is constantly talking about how Zach has KG's hunger and work ethic, so we'll see how they react to each other. And I think KG can do as much for Wiggins off the court as he can on, teaching him how to handle the spotlight while still being able to be a real person, like Malik Sealy did for him.
I always wanted Garnett to come back to 'Sota as a player, and in weird way, always figured he would. I don't know why, or how I was expecting that to happen. But KG's *the* guy I grew up with (my other favorites, Reggie Miller and The Admiral, were already men when I was a kid just getting into basketball) so now that he's back and still able to be a somewhat useful player, I can't be mad about the trade. I'm not exactly in love with the process or cost, but it makes more sense now than the day of, at least. And it's still Kevin Garnett. If there's one guy I'm willing to throw the rationale out the window for, it's him.
John Meyer: There's plenty to be said about bringing KG back to his original NBA home. I discussed most of my thoughts on the Garnett/Thad swap in detail here already, but in a nutshell my immediate reaction to the deal was that it's okay to oppose the trade and still love that KG was coming home. I disliked the move from a pure "what does this player give me on the court today" basketball perspective and also have a tough time supporting it from an asset management standpoint. But with that being said, as I've had more time to consider the pros and cons, I'm far more excited than I originally felt.
The trade helps me make sense of why the organization acquired Adreian Payne in the first place, as Key detailed above. I couldn't help but scratch my head at that move when it first went down, but giving up a lottery-protected first rounder (starting in 2017 and lasting until 2020) makes a lot more sense today since the front office likely had the framework in place to obtain Garnett and wanted another young power forward on the roster to help after moving Young.
Maybe Payne will turn out to be a good role player or maybe Atlanta was right to dump him based on their knowledge (working with him in practice at what not) while he still had some perceived value. Maybe he'll never amount to anything more than a third-string power forward/center option, but at least I can understand why they went after him now. I'm sure they knew there was a strong chance Thad would be gone at the deadline, that Garnett could only play so many minutes at power forward, that second-year forward Anthony Bennett might not be in the picture down the road, so they wanted another option at the four and they trusted their pre-draft assessment of Payne (who Saunders allegedly coveted).
Being in the Wolves' locker room after Friday night's win over the Phoenix Suns helped me understand just how big the trade could be in terms of culture. Down the line, every player talked about how excited they are to be around KG and how critical his presence will be on a team with such little NBA experience. I started to realize how thrilled the team actually is to learn from an all-time great, to be around him, to soak up anything and everything they can from him. There was a level of excitement, beating the Suns certainly played into that, that simply hasn't been seen all year; a serious jolt of energy, like a new season started last night.
The Wolves desperately needed a vocal leader to step into a normally quiet and unassuming locker room. They needed a veteran on the team to help guide the rebuild and teach them the tough lessons, which they didn't have. All of the players seemed to accept this as reality -- that they needed a veteran presence like Garnett, a player on the roster they could look towards when things start to fall apart. That's what KG will offer and I'm much more excited about the deal today after seeing the collective response by the players.
To conclude, Target Center was rocking on Friday night and there's really no question this move will help create a far better atmosphere during home games over the rest of this season. People will come to see The Kid, and perhaps they will leave the arena excited about the future, like last night, more willing to return for another game.
Eric in Madison: Great stuff guys. I'll write this up for tomorrow, probably.
I have one last question for Key Dae: What do you think Tim would have written about this? Remember how much he hated KG? Was so turned off by his trash talking and cursing. How would he react to KG coming back? That was one of the first things I thought of when this went down.
Key Dae: Tim would have probably hated it, honestly, yeah. I never learned if he had any sentimental attachment to KG growing up, but he loathed disrespectful behavior. One of the few things that could crack his relentless positivity. All of Garnett's antics...the barking, the cheap shots...in any player were everything he didn't like about the NBA. And it didn't matter if the guy was a big name or not; he held it against everyone from DeMarcus Cousins all the way down to Kirk Snyder.
Also, and in Tim's case probably even more important, Thad was exactly the kind of player Tim would have loved. Thad is a guy who goes out of his way to be friendly and get to know you, which meant everything to Tim. His infamous attachment to Wayne Ellington was entirely built on this, when Wayne made a point to make Tim feel like he belonged in that locker room when no one else did. I feel pretty confident in saying Thad would have been his favorite out of the current group. Losing him would not have sat well with Tim.
So that's our round table. Let us know in comments what you think. Is this an interesting format that we should consider doing more often? Also, another welcome to Lindsey to Canis Hoopus.
One more thing: Can we bring back some of the first KG era uniforms? So. Much. Better.