After a more-than-week-long roller coaster of reports involving Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and the LA Clippers, it seems that a deal has finally been struck. Rivers will coach the Clippers next season. Assuming he isn’t fired or doesn’t force another trade (!) he’ll also coach the Clips for the two seasons after that. The Celtics receive a first-round pick in 2015 and the financial relief of paying a cheaper coach to lead what looks to be a rebuilding team.
Perhaps more interesting is the part of the deal that has not — and probably will not — happen: Kevin Garnett won’t be joining his coach, as was originally hoped for and expected. Howard Beck reported in Friday’s Times that David Stern was skeptical that the teams could arrange transactions including both coach and players that pass muster under the collective bargaining agreement. Today, after the Rivers announcement, Paul Flannery reiterates that the league views the Rivers/KG situation as “either/or” for the Clippers, and that in light of today’s news, Garnett for DeAndre Jordan is off the table. Flannery notes Garnett’s no-trade clause and finds it likely that KG will remain a Celtic.
In the internet spirit of KNEE-JERK REACTION I thought I’d pay a quick visit to espn.com — specifically, the Trade Machine — and come up with a
n unlikely plausible trade proposal that brings Garnett back home to Minneapolis, where he spent his prime seasons as the greatest ever Timberwolf.
Why the Wolves do it:
Garnett is a good veteran post. He can play forward or center — backing up either position ably filled in the starting lineup by Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic. Last season, at age 36, Garnett led the Celtics in plus-minus. KG is a defensive captain, barking out assignments and using his elite combination of length, mobility and smarts to prevent opponents from getting easy looks. He’s the most popular player in franchise history and could finish his career where it began. Derrick Williams — one of the outgoing pieces in the deal — has proven himself a poor fit on this team, if not just a poor player. Whatever the case, he needs a fresh start. J.J. Barea will struggle to find minutes in the Wolves rotation when it includes a healthy Ricky Rubio and full-sized shooting guard.
Why the Celtics do it:
In short, to get worse so that they can get better. Rebuilds are rarely swift and rarely easy to go through. Keeping Garnett means winning 35 games instead of 27 games, drafting 12th instead of 5th, all while missing out on the opportunity cost that a Garnett trade right now would mean. (In the hypothetical deal above, the Wolves could also send a pick or two Boston’s way.) Derrick Williams might benefit from a change of scenery. I doubt it would matter much, but crazier things have happened than a high draft pick needing one change of scenery to make good on his potential.
Why Garnett agrees to it:
So that he can finish his career in a community that he knows and loves on a team that — with his added presence — could compete as a fringe title contender. If the Wolves ever get healthy, they’ve got the makings of a playoff team. When Pekovic goes to the bench, though, there’s a pretty sharp dropoff. Imagine Garnett coming off the bench instead of Stiemsma for 20 or so minutes per game. The situation might appeal to Garnett as a final chapter of an all-time great career. It certainly sounds better than playing for a new coach on an underwhelming Boston team that waits patiently during Rajon Rondo’s knee-surgery recovery.
Why it probably won’t happen:
Because Glen Taylor said some dumb stuff about Garnett in a bitter moment after the trade when the Celtics were dominating and the Wolves were in last place. Garnett is nothing if not proud and nothing if not loyal. It would not be easy convincing him to play for Taylor’s Wolves again, even if the Celtics see enough in Derrick Williams’ play to have interest of their own in the deal. Garnett would probably not agree to it, and would exercise his no-trade option.
Why it isn’t totally outside the realm of possibility:
Because time heals all wounds. Garnett’s Timberwolves coach, Flip Saunders, is now back with the organization after an extended hiatus. He worked as a special assistant with KG’s Celtics during one of the playoff runs and has a good relationship with his former superstar player. Perhaps Flip could mediate any lingering disputes between Garnett and Wolves Brass.
Hell, if Chris Webber could return to Golden State to play his last career games for Don Nelson, then — for Garnett and Glen Taylor — ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!!!
In Woj’s latest update, he writes about Garnett returning to Minnesota… to be an owner:
Garnett has two years, $24.4 million left on his Celtics deal, but there’s a growing belief that he’ll play one more season before retiring and joining his old coach, Flip Saunders, with a ceremonial role in Minnesota Timberwolves ownership, league sources told Y! Sports.
“The opportunity will be there for him,” one source said, “but there’s nothing decided yet.”