Garnett hopes to win in Bostonby Lorna Benson, Minnesota Public Radio
Kevin Garnett says he is happy to be a member of the Celtics. The former Minnesota Timberwolves star was introduced to his new teammates and fans Tuesday night during a news conference in Boston.
The Celtics acquired the 10-time All-Star after three days of intense negotiations with the Wolves. The deal gives Boston one of the best players in the NBA. In exchange, Minnesota receives five lesser-known Boston players and two first round draft picks.
Boston — It's a deal that looked unlikely two months ago when reports first surfaced about a possible Garnett trade. But a lot has changed, including Garnett's views on the deal.
The first thing Garnett told his new Boston fans was that initially, he had no interest in leaving Minnesota. But he said a few things helped change his mind.
One was a conversation with Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor. Garnett said Taylor told him he wanted to go in a different direction with the team.
Another factor was Boston's acquisition of Ray Allen in a draft-day trade with Seattle. Allen's presence on the team, along with Paul Pierce, helped change Garnett's mind, because it makes the Celtics more competitive in the next few years.
"I actually contemplated and thought about it, really didn't speak publicly, really didn't say too much to my friends or any of that," Garnett said, "really trying to be comfortable with seeing myself in a Celtics jersey."
Garnett said accepting the idea of the trade was easier than the actual negotiations. He says it was probably the hardest 72 hours he's experienced in the NBA. But Garnett made it clear he was at peace with his decision to leave Minnesota.
"I'm loyal to a point where if someone's loyal to me, then I have no problem with that. But when that changes, it's pretty easy for me," Garnett said. "So after that, going through those stages, which was really tough, I thought this was probably my best opportunity of winning the ring. So I took the big steps to make those adjustments and here we are, wearing number 5."
By trading Garnett to Boston, Minnesota is losing perhaps its biggest sports celebrity since Kirby Puckett.
And the Celtics have wasted no time cashing in. Within hours of the trade announcement, the team began selling Kevin Garnett merchandise on its Web site and promoting season ticket sales with a picture of Garnett in a green jersey.
Arguably the most promising player Minnesota gets out of the deal is forward Al Jefferson, who some consider a rising star, but hardly a household name.
In addition to Jefferson, there are forwards Gerald Green and Ryan Gomes, guard Sebastian Telfair and center Theo Ratliff. The Wolves will also get two first-round draft picks.
At an outdoor basketball court in St. Paul, the Timberwolves new lineup didn't generate a lot of excitement among the teenagers and adults playing a pickup game in the hot afternoon sun.
Earl Anderson said without Garnett, the Timberwolves won't be a good team for a long time.
"I know it's going to be a different style of ball with him out of the lineup, which will open up a lot of other guys' game and we'll see other people's game. But that's all a part of growing and seeing and maturing and making it there. But they're going to struggle for awhile," he said.
Kyle Chatmon of St. Paul said he's disappointed that Garnett is leaving too.
"I don't know how we going make this do, except for we'll probably do what we always do," he said. "We'll probably try to make it up top again, except for it's going to be hard having Garnett on another team."
Long-time Timberwolves fan Jim Ferstle says the trade is a risky move for the Timberwolves.
"If they're able to get a championship team out of it, then it's worth it," he said. "But if they don't, then ... they've lost a community asset." Ferstle says Garnett was a big draw for the Timberwolves. He suspects some fans won't be as interested in attending games now that the team is without its star player. But he says he'll stick with the Wolves for awhile to see how the move plays out on the court.
Ferstle says he hopes the trade is a sign that the Timberwolves are willing to do what it takes to put a championship team together; something he says they did not appear willing to do while Garnett was here.
"The unknown factor is the commitment of Glen Taylor and Kevin McHale and the rest of the crew of the Timberwolves to building a championship team here. Or is it just a business?" he said.
In a news release, the Timberwolves said the trade is about improving the team for the future.
Vice President of Basketball Operations Kevin McHale is quoted as saying that the team's performance the past few seasons has been "disappointing."
McHale says the trade brings some very talented young players to Minnesota who have a lot of potential. The team will introduce its new players during a news conference at Target Center Wednesday night.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
- All Things Considered, 07/31/2007, 5:18 p.m.