Kevin McHale Confirms Kevin Garnett Trade Was Financially Motivated
One of the biggest trades in the NBA occurred a few offseasons ago and it helped bring the Celtics their first championship in 22 years. In the trade, Kevin Garnett was dealt from the Timberwolves to the Celtics after Boston had already acquired Ray Allen, completing one of the biggest offseasons for a team this side of the Yankees. So far several reasons have been suggested as explanations for the trade. For one, the Timberwolves were going nowhere and either Kevin Garnett wanted to get moved and/or the team felt they owed him a shot at a title. Secondly, people suggested that as part of the “free KG movement,” GM Kevin McHale decided to give his former Celtic teammate, Danny Ainge, a nice present. Another suggestion was that the Timberwolves decided it was time to rebuild without Garnett. Well since he was fired by the Timberwolves in June, it seems like McHale wants to set the record straight about the trade that tarnishes his resume as a front office guy. In an interview with the 2 Live Stews on Sporting News Radio, McHale said it was owner Glen Taylor’s financial decision that led to the Kevin Garnett trade:
“There was a contract extension coming up … I had talked to [Garnett's] agent and I said ‘hey man, you guys are looking for some big money, you better talk to our owner on it.’ I called up our owner and said this is kind of where everything’s at. It just got to the point where our owner came back and said ‘I’m not sure I can spend that amount of money — we’re going to make a trade.’ At that point, it’s just try to get the best deal. I really liked Al Jefferson — I always have. I think you’re looking at trying to get the best, young player you can in that situation. It was really just trying to find the best, young player available to get a good, young nucleus and go from there.”
In addition to explaining how his hands were tied with the deal, McHale made another reference during the interview to the difficulties of running a small-market franchise:
“Financially-wise, small markets, it can get tough in the NBA. Rebuilding in the NBA is tough because I think people expect immediate success. I don’t know if it’s how the kids are taught the game today, if it’s AAU, if it’s more games than practice, or maybe it’s just the fact that guys are coming out younger, and younger, and younger. When I came out, after two or three years, you were expected to really be a leader on your team — you were expected to help your team win games. [Young players] are so ill-equipped to become leaders these days because they don’t spend much time in school and they’re not counted on by their coaches to be leaders.”
Two crap seasons later and it’s pretty clear that the Timberwolves are still hurting without Garnett who, outside of last year’s knee injury, is still rolling along at an All-Star level. Meanwhile the Timberwolves are still very much in rebuilding mode with no seeming turnaround in sights. And it sounds like the fans have their owner to thank, and possibly themselves for not making the organization more profitable while KG was on the roster.