Don’t confuse this claim with one that would attempt to convince you that the Minnesota Timberwolves would be better off if they still had Kevin Garnett. What I would like to call to your attention is that after trading Al Jefferson to the Utah Jazz for two future first-round picks, the T-Wolves have now rid themselves of every piece they received from the Celtics in return for Kevin Garnett in 2007, excluding draft selections. After getting what looked like a ton in exchange for The Big Ticket at the time, this can’t be what Kevin McHale and the Minnesota front office envisioned.
When you deal the greatest player in your franchise’s history — one who, at the time, was still at the peak of his game — you intend to get something out of the players you dealt him for. If the T-Wolves had known that Sebastian Telfair, Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, and journeyman Theo Ratliff would all turn out to be duds and trade bait, they would have looked elsewhere to make a deal. Had they envisioned Al Jefferson becoming expendable at the age of 25, they wouldn’t have wasted their time even speaking to the Celtics’ brass. Obviously, Minnesota received something in the form of draft picks and other players when they dealt all of the former Celtics, but at this point it doesn’t appear they’ve gotten their hands on anything promising.
As far as the Jefferson trade itself, I don’t really get it. Minnesota has seemingly improved a bit this off-season by re-signing Darko Milicic and trading for Michael Beasley, but didn’t they give up on Jefferson prematurely?
When Big Al signed his 5-year, $65 million contract it appeared as though he would become the core of the Minnesota franchise for years to come. He justified the contract by averaging 21 points and 11.1 rebounds in his inaugural season with the T-Wolves and 23.1 points to accompany 11 rebounds over the first 50 games of his second season, before blowing out his right knee.
Jefferson fought back from the knee injury to appear in 76 games last season and post impressive averages of 17.1 points and 9.3 rebounds. Take into account that he’s only 25 years old and that it takes most athletes a full season to shake off the rust from major reconstructive knee surgery, and you have every reason to believe Big Al will at some point resurface as a top-flight, All-Star big man. If he does, he’ll be doing it in a Utah Jazz uniform.
We have no way of predicting what will become of the draft picks Minnesota has received in return for trading every former Celtic on their roster. That being said, one world title and two finals appearances in three years later, I think it’s safe to say the Boston Celtics got the better end of the deal in 2007.
Report: T-Wolves trade Jefferson to Jazz [AP/Fox Sports]