Celtics land Gar­nett in record deal

Largest trade in NBA his­tory

The Covington News - - SPORTS - By Howard Ul­man

BOS­TON— Kevin Gar­nett gives Bos­ton a new Big Three that brings the Celtics much closer to what their old Big Three de­liv­ered— an NBA ti­tle.

The Celtics, who have 16 cham­pi­onships but have gone with­out one for more than two decades, ob­tained the for­mer MVP and 10-time All-Star on Tues­day in a 7-for-1 deal — the NBA’s big­gest trade for one player.

Bos­ton sent the Min­nesota Tim­ber­wolves for­wards Al Jef­fer­son, Ryan Gomes and Ger­ald Green, guard Se­bas­tian Telfair and cen­ter Theo Ratliff, two first-round draft picks and cash con­sid­er­a­tions. Be­sides Ratliff, 34, the other four are 22 or younger.

With Paul Pierce and Ray Allen al­ready on the ros­ter, the Celtics have been trans­formed from a promis­ing col­lec­tion of young­sters who had the NBA’s sec­ond-worst record last sea­son into an in­stant con­tender in the medi­ocre East­ern Con­fer­ence.

“I am ex­cited to be­come a Celtic,” Gar­nett said. “It’s won­der­ful to have the op­por­tu­nity to play with play­ers the qual­ity of Paul and Ray. The Celtics have had a proud tra­di­tion and now I hope that we can add to the legacy.”

The Tim­ber­wolves get the Celtics’ first-round pick in 2009, un­less it is among the top three, and a re­turn of Min­nesota’s con­di­tional first round draft pick ob­tained in Jan­uary 2006 when they sent Ricky Davis to the Tim­ber­wolves for Wally Szczer­biak. Min­nesota also re­ceives cash con­sid­er­a­tions in the deal.

The pre­vi­ous big­gest NBA trade for one player came in 1999 when Hous­ton ob­tained Scot­tie Pip­pen from Port­land for six play­ers.

The Gar­nett trade eclipses the latest one in­volv­ing an NBA star, Allen Iver­son. Philadel­phia traded the guard and Ivan McFarlin to Den­ver last Dec. 19 for An­dre Miller, Joe Smith and two first-round draft choices.

The Celtics won their last cham­pi­onship, the third with the orig­i­nal Big Three of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, in 1986. Two mem­bers of that club or­ches­trated Tues­day’s block­buster trade — Celtics ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of bas­ket­ball op­er­a­tions Danny Ainge and Tim­ber­wolves vice pres­i­dent of bas­ket­ball op­er­a­tions Kevin McHale.

The key to the deal for Min­nesota is Jef­fer­son, whom the Celtics were re­luc­tant to part with. He had a break­out sea­son in 2006-07, his third with Bos­ton, when he av­er­aged 16 points and 11 re­bounds af­ter strug­gling with in­juries. He joins a youth move­ment in Min­nesota, which drafted for­ward Corey Brewer from Florida.

The teams had dis­cussed a trade for the 6-foot-11 Gar­nett, the NBA’s lead­ing re­bounder each of the past four sea­sons, be­fore the June draft. But he didn’t want to go to Bos­ton, and the Celtics didn’t want to give up Jef­fer­son.

But the ac­qui­si­tion of Allen, 32, in a draft-day trade with Seat­tle to go with Pierce, 29, may have helped change Gar­nett’s mind. It gave Gar­nett, 31, a bet­ter chance at a ti­tle af­ter Min­nesota missed the last three play­offs in the tough West­ern Con­fer­ence.

The Tim­ber­wolves came within two wins of the NBA fi­nals in 2004. Gar­nett av­er­aged 24.2 points and a league­high 13.9 re­bounds that sea­son, join­ing Bird as the only play­ers to av­er­age at least 20 points, 10 re­bounds and five as­sists for five con­sec­u­tive years.

But Min­nesota has fired two coaches and not made the play­offs since. Gar­nett never said he was un­happy and never asked to be traded but ex­pressed frus­tra­tion with some of McHale’s per­son­nel de­ci­sions and chal­lenged him to up­grade the ros­ter.

Gar­nett was the fifth player drafted in 1995, com­ing out of Far­ragut Academy in Illi­nois and skip­ping col­lege. He has av­er­aged more than 20 points and 10 re­bounds for each of the last nine sea­sons. He is among five play­ers in NBA his­tory with at least 19,000 points, 10,000 re­bounds and 4,000 as­sists. The oth­ers are Wilt Cham­ber­lain, Ka­reem Ab­dul-Jab­bar, Karl Malone and Charles Barkley. He also is an out­stand­ing de­fen­sive player and an ex­cel­lent passer.

The Tim­ber­wolves had lost 60 games in each of the four sea­sons be­fore Gar­nett ar­rived. But in his sec­ond sea­son, he helped lead them to the first of eight straight play­off ap­pear­ances.

Be­fore his third sea­son, Gar­nett got a six-year, $126 mil­lion ex­ten­sion in 1997. He has one year and an op­tion left on his cur­rent con­tract.

With Gar­nett, seven-time All-Star Allen and five-time All-Star Pierce, the Celtics up­graded their profile in a sports mar­ket dom­i­nated by the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots and Bos­ton Red Sox.

In his four full sea­sons as ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of bas­ket­ball op­er­a­tions, Ainge has stock­piled young­sters. He could be pa­tient and let them de­velop or speed the process through trades.

The Celtics have sec­ondyear point guard Ra­jon Rondo and could try to sign a vet­eran at that spot. Only nine play­ers are un­der con­tract, al­though they are ex­pected to sign sec­ond-round draft picks Glen Davis, a for­ward from LSU, and Gabe Pruitt, a guard from South­ern Cal­i­for­nia.

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