HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
August 6, 2006

Kevin Garnett for who? Let’s see who the Wolves got

By Matt Kane

What a week for the professional sports teams in Minnesota.

Just as the Vikings kicked their preseason training into another gear down in Mankato, the spotlight was stolen by the Twins, when they traded away gold glove second baseman Luis Castillo. And then it was stolen from the Twins by the Timberwolves when they dealt away a Minnesota sports icon.

Minnesota sports fans have been listening to rumors and speculation that the Timberwolves were going to trade Kevin Garnett for months, but then, just as trade talks seemingly slowed to a hush, the volume was pumped up to an eardrum-popping level Tuesday when Garnett, also known as “The Big Ticket,” was scalped for a bunch of nose-bleeders.

Al Jefferson is supposed to be the biggest prize out of the five players and two draft picks the Wolves got from the Celtics for Garnett.

Jefferson is a 6-10 forward who averaged a double-double per game — 16 points and 11 rebounds — so at least we know he can clear the bricks that his Wolves’ teammates lay on the offensive rim and then deposit them for two points.

Jefferson is a big man who will play in the low post. Unfortunately, that means one thing: He will get mentoring from Kevin McHale.

Let’s hope Jefferson doesn’t receive the same lessons that Joe Smith, Stanley Roberts, Paul Grants and Michael Olowokandis did.

If he can score 16 points per game and pull down 11 rebounds, I’m sure Wolves’ fans will be happy having Jefferson around. One big problem, though, is that Jefferson will always be known by Wolves fans as someone they got in the Garnett trade.

I doubt Jefferson will ever match Garnett as a player, but, by the looks of it, he won’t have to. Jefferson will only have to be one-seventh the player Garnett was in Minnesota.

Of course, the names of the two draft picks are not yet known, but, unlike in baseball, at least the other four players dealt for Garnett are not the infamous “player to be named later.”

In Gerald Green, the Wolves are getting the 2007 slam dunk champion. Can you say Isaiah Rider?

The other three players the Wolves received are Ryan Gomes, Sabastian Telfair and Theo Ratliff.

NBA fans know the 12-year veteran Ratliff. He’s not much of a scorer, but, like Garnett, he is a solid defensive player. Ratliff has rejected 1,815 shots in his dozen years in the league. Garnett has 1,576 blocked shots in 12 seasons.

The only thing Gomes seems to have in common is that he is a nice guy.

“The first thing you hear about Gomes from people that know him is what a terrific, well-spoken, nice kid he is,” Wolves reporter Mike Trudell wrote on the Timberwolves’ official web site.

With that whole Minnesota Nice thing this state is known for, Gomes should fit right in.

As for Telfair, his name may sound familiar. Too bad it’s not recognizable for anything positive he’s done in the NBA — Telfair has averaged seven points per game in his three seasons in the NBA.

Remember what I said about that Minnesota Nice idea for Gomes? Not so much for Telfair.

Telfair is probably recognized more for what he’s done in a judicial court than what he’s done on a basketball court. He has been arrested for firearms violations twice, and, in 2006, he left a preseason game early so he could view a police lineup after a $50,000 necklace was stolen from him.

So let’s recap what the Timberwolves got in exchange for Garnett, who is one of the game’s greatest players ever and was Minnesota’s most popular sports figure since Kirby Puckett. A prospect; someone who can dunk; an aging shot blocker; a nice guy; and a crook. Not bad, but where are Sneezy and Dopey?

I know Timberwolves fans were frustrated with losing season after losing season.

But wouldn’t we rather lose with Kevin Garnett than without him?

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