It’s one of the biggest trades in NBA history. For some, this is the real beginning of the “Superteams”, before the “Three Amigos” of Miami. It was in any case an event that redistributed the cards in the league.
Arrived at the Wolves in 1995 right out of high school, Kevin Garnett has been shining there ever since, accumulating statistical exploits… and eliminations in the first round of the playoffs.
The arrivals of Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell allowed the team to reach the conference finals in 2004, but the upturn would be short-lived, as the two men’s salary demands came up against owner Glen Taylor’s wallet in 2005. In the summer of 2007, the Wolves had therefore just missed the playoffs for the third time in a row, and the club boss explained to the “Big Ticket” that everything had to be rebuilt…
Kevin Garnett in the blur
“I said to Kevin, ‘It’s going to take us some time. And I think he said, ‘I want to win’. I said, ‘I’m not sure I can get this to you as fast as you want. He was in doubt. »
Howard Beck thus traced the history of the exchange (among others) in a fascinating article devoted to Kevin Garnett a few years ago. The latter has always assured that he never asked to leave Wolves, but Glen Taylor explains that it is less clear than that.
“Now he’s like, ‘Glen, you traded me. I didn’t want to be traded. But I’m not sure it’s so clear. He sent me messages where he told me he wanted to be in a team that was playing the title. »
The only certainty is that Minnesota decides to turn the page, and that the interested teams knock on the door.
The Cavaliers position themselves to surround LeBron James but the fight really opposes the historical enemies, Lakers and the Celtics. Los Angeles is looking for a superstar to reform a fearsome outside/inside duo with Kobe Bryant, while Boston is looking to revive itself by surrounding Paul Pierce.
“Like Kevin (McHale, Wolves GM) and I are very close, we often had conversations about KG over the years details Danny Ainge, the GM of the Celtics. “We thought that Paul (Pierce) and him would form an incredible duo. We thought they complemented each other very well. So we had discussed the possibility of sending Paul to Minnesota, or having KG come to Boston. Which would have worked best. »
At the Lakers, it is Phil Jackson who pushes to recover the “Big Ticket” and associate it with Kobe Bryant.
Los Angeles offers Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum
Los Angeles offers Lamar Odom and young Andrew Bynum to Wolves. The casual temperament of the first frightens Glen Taylor a little, who on the other hand likes the second very much. But Kevin McHale doesn’t look convinced.
“Dr. Buss came to me and said, ‘I have an oral agreement with Taylor, Kevin Garnett is coming to LA but McHale hasn’t approved yet.’ I told him that was a good excuse. As an owner, you can always say, ‘I’m going to do this but…’ But I was hopeful that he would join the Lakers.” continues Phil Jackson.
The problem is that Kevin McHale adores Al Jefferson, an extremely gifted young pivot at the low post, like him. Boston adds a few more players (Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair), two first-round draft picks, and the deal is done between the Wolves GM and his friend in Boston.
“Obviously, it’s always easier to make an agreement with someone you know” sorry Phil Jackson. “The main thing was that they wanted to get him out of the conference (West), send him to the East, as far as possible, so that they didn’t have to face him four times a year. It makes sense, it makes sense. »
But according to Glen Taylor, it was really when the Celtics got their hands on Ray Allen that Kevin Garnett accepted the trade. Even if the owner recognizes that it was not as clear as that.
“We talked to Boston, I got a deal, I pitched it to Kevin, and he said, ‘No, I don’t want to be traded. Then they picked up [Ray] Allen. I went back to Kevin and said later, ‘Well, they’re still here, they want you.’ I think he said ‘OK’ to me. Really… I don’t know if he remembers it like that or not. Because he said at different times, ‘I wish I could have stayed there. But I think I asked him. I think he agreed. Thinking about it, I think Kevin wasn’t sure how he wanted it to go, and I made the decision for him, rather than having to ask him again. »