Trade Retrospective: Kevin Garnett To Celtics

The trade that will send Kevin Love to the Cavaliers for Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, and a future first round draft choice cannot be made official for another two weeks. That is when the 30-day required time period from when Wiggins inked his deal expires.

In light of the Timberwolves deciding to part with their franchise player, I’ve been taking a look back at past blockbuster deals to see how each team involved fared after these trades. So far I’ve looked at the deal that sent Dwight Howard from the Magic to the Lakers, and the trade that saw Deron Williams go from the Jazz to the Nets. Neither of those trades has worked out especially well for any of the franchises involved.

The next one I’ll be revisiting is the 2007 trade that saw the Wolves ship Kevin Garnett to the Celtics. Let’s start by looking at the players and assets that changed hands.

  1. The Celtics received Garnett.
  2. The Timberwolves received Ryan Gomes; Gerald Green; Al Jefferson; Theo Ratliff; Sebastian Telfair; the Celtics 2009 first-rounder (used to select Wayne Ellington at No. 28); the return of the Wolves’ 2009 first-round pick that was sent to Celtics as part of the Ricky DavisWally Szczerbiak trade (used to select Jonny Flynn at No. 6); and cash considerations.

I’ll begin with the Celtics’ end of the deal, which worked out as well as anyone in Boston could have hoped. The Celtics record the year prior to the trade was 24-58, and the franchise had not been to the playoffs since the 2004/05 season. In Garnett’s first year in Boston, he earned Defensive Player of the Year honors, and helped the franchise capture their first NBA title in 22 years. During Garnett’s six seasons in Boston, the franchise’s cumulative record was 314-161.

Garnett’s season averages were:

  1. 2007/08=18.8 PPG, 9.2 RPG, and 3.4 APG. His slash line was .539/.000/.801.
  2. 2008/09=15.8 PPG, 8.5 RPG, and 2.5 APG. His slash line was .531/.250/.841.
  3. 2009/10=14.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG, and 2.7 APG. His slash line was .521/.200/.837.
  4. 2010/11=14.9 PPG, 8.9 RPG, and 2.4 APG. His slash line was .528/.200/.862.
  5. 2011/12=15.8 PPG, 8.2 RPG, and 2.9 APG. His slash line was .503/.333/.857.
  6. 2012/13=14.8 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 2.3 APG. His slash line was .496/.125/.786.

Garnett was the heart and soul of the Celtics during his tenure, and I don’t think anyone can make an argument that the trade wasn’t an enormous success for the franchise. His time with Boston came to an end in June of 2013 when Garnett was traded to the Nets.

That deal saw the Nets receive Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry. The Celtics in return received Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, Kris Joseph, Keith Bogans, and 2014 (James Young), 2016, and 2018 first-round picks. The Celtics also have the ability to swap first-rounders with Brooklyn in 2017.

From the Timberwolves’ perspective, this deal hasn’t worked out very well for the franchise, and just might be a harbinger of things to come once Love finally dons a Cleveland jersey. The franchise’s record since the trade has been a dismal 135-341, with zero playoff appearances.

One telling fact about how poorly the trade worked out for Minnesota, is that not one of the original players or draftees are still with the team. Let’s take a look at what each player provided the Wolves and where they ended up.

Ryan Gomes spent three seasons in Minnesota, where he was primarily a starter. His season averages were:

  1. 2007/08=12.6 PPG, 5.8 RPG, and 1.8 APG. His slash line was .457/.330/.830.
  2. 2008/09=13.3 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 1.6 APG. His slash line was .431/.372/.807.
  3. 2009/10=10.9 PPG, 4.6 RPG, and 1.6 APG. His slash line was .447/.372/.825.

In June of 2010, Gomes was traded to the Trail Blazers along with the draft rights to Luke Babbitt for Martell Webster. Gomes was subsequently waived by Portland. In his two seasons in Minnesota, Webster averaged 8.3 PPG and 3.4 RPG.

Theo Ratliff didn’t provide much for the Wolves, appearing in only ten games during the 2007/08 season, averaging 6.3 PPG and 3.9 RPG. Ratliff was waived in February of 2008 and then finished that season with the Pistons.

The Wolves used the 2009 first rounder they acquired from Boston to select Wayne Ellington with the No. 28 pick. Ellington never developed into the scoring threat the team had hoped he’d become. His season averages with Minnesota were:

  1. 2009/10=6.6 PPG, 2.1 RPG, and 1.0 APG. His slash line was .424/.395/.871.
  2. 2010/11=6.6 PPG, 1.7 RPG, and 1.2 APG. His slash line was .403/.397/.792.
  3. 2011/12=6.1 PPG, 1.9 RPG, and 0.6 APG. His slash line was .404/.324/.800.

Ellington’s time in Minnesota came to an end when he was dealt to the Grizzlies for Dante Cunningham, in July of 2012. In two seasons with the Wolves, Cunningham has averaged 7.5 PPG.

Sebastian Telfair had his two best seasons as a pro while with the Wolves. Telfair had entered the NBA out of high school, and never realized his potential. He was one of the pieces Minnesota had hoped would energize the franchise, but poor shooting and on-court decision-making have always hampered his game. Telfair then became a part of the revolving door of point guards the Wolves have either drafted or traded for since the Garnett deal. Telfair’s season averages in Minnesota were:

  1. 2007/08=9.3 PPG, 2.3 RPG, and 5.9 APG. His slash line was .401/.281/.743.
  2. 2008/09=9.8 PPG, 1.7 RPG, and 4.6 APG. His slash line was .383/.346/.819.

The Wolves re-signed Telfair to a three-year, $7.5MM deal after the 2007/08 season, but then Minnesota selected both Jonny Flynn and Ricky Rubio in the 2009 NBA Draft, thus making Telfair expendable. He was dealt along with Craig Smith and Mark Madsen to the Clippers, in return Minnesota received Quentin Richardson. A few weeks later, Richardson was dealt to the Heat for Mark Blount. Blount never played a game for Minnesota, and was waived the following March.

The selection of Jonny Flynn with the No. 6 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft was a head-scratcher for many. Not because of Flynn’s talent level, but because the Wolves had just selected Ricky Rubio with the No. 5 pick. The franchise knew there was a better than average chance that it would be a few seasons before Rubio would make the jump from international competition to the NBA, but when selecting that high, redundancies can severely hinder a franchise.

At the risk of making Timberwolves fans even more upset, look at who they passed on to select Flynn. Available at the time were Stephen Curry, Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson, Jeff Teague, Brandon Jennings, and Darren Collison. All have had better career numbers than Flynn.

Here’s what Flynn provided during his two seasons in Minnesota:

  1. 2009/10=13.5 PPG, 2.4 RPG, and 4.4 APG. His shooting numbers were .417/.358/.826.
  2. 2010/11=5.3 PPG, 1.5 RPG, and 3.4 APG. His slash line was .365/.310/.762.

Flynn’s tenure came to an end with a trade during the 2011 NBA Draft. This transaction is a bit complicated to break down since it set off a number of subsequent deals. Here’s the chain of events that resulted:

  1. Flynn was traded to the Rockets along with the rights to Donatas Motiejunas for Brad Miller; the rights to No. 23 pick Nikola Mirotic; a second-rounder (No. 38); and a 2013 first round pick (Andre Roberson). The Rockets would later buy back the No.38 pick from the Wolves. And whom did they select with that pick? Chandler Parsons. Ouch!
  2. The Wolves then dealt the rights to Mirotic to the Bulls for the rights to No. 28 pick Norris Cole and the No. 43 pick in the draft (Malcolm Lee).
  3. Then Minnesota dealt Cole to the Heat for the No. 31 pick (Bojan Bogdanovic); a future second-rounder; and cash.
  4. Bogdanovic was later traded to the Nets for a 2013 second-rounder (Lorenzo Brown) and cash.

Gerald Green was another player who entered the league right out of high school. He has always had amazing athletic ability, but hasn’t been able to translate that into the production expected of him, with the exception of the 2013/14 campaign he spent with the Suns.

Green found himself buried on the bench behind numerous players, and only appeared in 29 games for the Wolves during the 2007/08 season, averaging 5.1 PPG on 33.1% shooting. He asked for a trade via his agent, which the Wolves granted.

On February 21, 2008, Green was dealt to the Rockets for Kirk Snyder; a 2010 second-rounder (used to select Paulao Prestes); and cash. Prestes never played in the NBA, and Snyder spent one season in Minnesota, averaging 8.4 PPG and 4.2 RPG. That was Snyder’s last year in the NBA, and he’s been playing overseas since then.

Lastly, I come to Al Jefferson, who was the most productive player that Minnesota acquired. Jefferson passed up the chance to test out restricted free agency, and in November 2007, he inked a five-year, $65MM extension with the Wolves. While it didn’t translate into wins, Jefferson did provide the franchise with some excellent numbers.

  1. 2007/08=21.0 PPG, 11.1 RPG, and 1.5 BPG. His slash line was .500/.000/.721.
  2. 2008/09=23.1 PPG, 11.0 RPG, and 1.7 BPG. His slash line was .497/.000/.738.
  3. 2009/10=17.1 PPG, 9.3 RPG, and 1.3 BPG. His slash line was .498/.000/.680.

It could be argued that based on pure stats, Jefferson almost made up for Garnett’s departure offensively. But on the defensive, intangibles, and leadership fronts, it wasn’t possible to recoup what “The Big Ticket” provided.

Jefferson’s tenure in Minnesota came to an end on July 13, 2010, when he was dealt to the Jazz for Kosta Koufos; a 2011 first rounder (used to select Motiejunas) and a 2012 first round pick. The 2012 first-rounder was subsequently traded to the Rockets for Chase Budinger and the rights to Lior Eliyahu, and Houston used the pick to select Terrence Jones. Eliyahu has never played in the league, and in two seasons with Minnesota, Budinger has averaged 8.0 PPG.

That was a whole lot of player movement to track. I think it illustrates quite well the dangers involved with trading away a franchise player, and it’s a situation the Wolves are facing yet again with Love.

The biggest difference this time out for Minnesota is in what they are getting in return. The biggest piece they acquired for Garnett was Jefferson, who while productive, has never been thought of as an anchor-type player who can carry a franchise to a title. While it may be a bittersweet consolation to the franchise’s fans, I think the Love trade has the potential to work out slightly better.

Wiggins has superstar potential, and Bennett looked much improved in Summer League play. If both players can reach their ceilings in the next few seasons, and if they do in fact obtain Thaddeus Young from the Sixers, then there is a chance the Wolves can break their run of missing the playoffs. Cleveland, though, might follow Boston’s lead and use the trade to capture an NBA title. Time will certainly tell.

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15 thoughts on “Trade Retrospective: Kevin Garnett To Celtics

  1. Sky14

    The Wolves actually got a great haul for Garnett, they just completely wiffed on the draft picks. The Flynn pick was just devastating, because they picked the one terrible PG out of many solid to great ones that came out of the first round that year. The recap of the eventual Flynn trade is what really makes me cringe. They could’ve walked away with Mitotic, Parsons and Roberson which would have been a historic heist, but the great Kahn decided otherwise. I remember when he executed all those trades that draft, it was baffling. He turned a mid-first into a second and some money ( probably so he could fire his coach), he really got poor value.

    • Eddie Scarito

      This deal would be looked at much differently with Steph Curry in the backcourt, and Parsons at the three. Absolutely right.

    • guccci7383

      my god wolves fans should march to khan home with picthfolks and torches

    • Al-Zamar McKinney

      The Minnesota Timberwolves front office is a joke. Look at everything the Wolves missed out on: Stephen Curry, Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson, Jeff Teague, Demar Derozan (he was also on the board when the Wolves selected Flynn) Norris Cole, Nikola Mirotic, Chandler Parsons, Donatas Motiejunas, and Terrence Jones.

      Then in the 2010 draft Minnesota selected Wesley Johnson (a small forward) and left Paul George, Gordon Hayward, and Demarcus Cousins on the board.

      But it’s Kevin Love’s fault that the Timberwolves have never been to the playoffs? LOL!

  2. The Wolves didn’t get the Flynn pick in the Garnett trade. For some reason this has been reported over and over again for years but it’s absolutely wrong. The Wolves at the time owed their protected first round pick to the Clippers as part of the Marko Jaric/Sam Cassell deal. Once that pick was conveyed, they would trade their first to the Celtics two years later, as the Stepien Rule prevents teams from trading first round picks in consecutive years. Given that the Wolves had yet to convey their pick to the Clippers, it’s not possible that the pick the Celtics gave the Wolves turned into Flynn. What actually happened was the Wolves gave their pick to the Clippers in 2012, and that pick was sent to New Orleans in the Chris Paul deal and used on Austin Rivers. The Wolves pick two years later just happened. So if you want to accurately discuss the trade return I guess you have to wait until we find out what Zach Lavine becomes.

    EDIT: Because you can’t trade picks more than seven years out, the Wolves would have only ended up giving the Celtics a second rounder in 2012. The Lavine point is therefore moot. Makes the return in this trade even worse for the Wolves. Source:


    • Eddie Scarito

      EVERY website I researched this piece at has Flynn as the pick that changed hands. Here’s one link of many (Basketball Insiders: http://www.basketballinsiders….

      “1-27-06: Minnesota acquires guards Ricky
      Davis and Marcus Banks, center Mark Blount, forward Justin Reed and two
      second-round picks (Craig Smith and Nikola Pekovic) from the Boston
      Celtics for forward Wally Szczerbiak, centers Michael Olowokandi and
      Dwayne Jones and a future first-round pick (Jonny Flynn).”

      • And every single one is wrong. You have to explain how the Wolves could have traded a first rounder to Boston when they owed their next first rounder outside the top-10 to the Clippers. It’s just not possible. Again, the first rounder in the Ricky Davis trade was to be conveyed two years after they conveyed a first to the Clippers. This is a very simple part of the CBA that for whatever reason the internet has failed to grasp when it comes to this one trade. You just simply cannot come up with a way that the Wolves could have traded their own 2009 first rounder to the Celtics when they still owed a pick to the Clippers. The below article, written in 2006, understood it quite well:

        link to

  3. You’re really going to delete my comment noting that the Flynn pick wasn’t involved here? C’mon Eddie you’re better than that. I can’t even blame you for the error given that it’s reported incorrectly in plenty of other places, and the analysis in this write-up is generally very solid. But at least leave my comment up stating that the Wolves could not have possibly traded their own 2009 first to the Celtics in the Ricky Davis trade (and therefore gotten it back in the Garnett trade) given that they owed a pick to the Clippers.

    • Eddie Scarito

      I didn’t delete it, Mark. Not even covering site right now. Plus, not something I would do since you make a compelling argument, and aren’t doing anything out of line. Not sure what happened to your comments.

      • Eddie Scarito

        Actually, the comments are still here. Are you able to see them too? If not, then something is wrong with Disqus. Let me know, please.

        • Yeah I can see them now. Thanks for the site. Appreciate the work you guys do.

          • Eddie Scarito

            Appreciate you reading AND your input. And your info is something I intend to research further. This will annoy me until I know for sure…either way.

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