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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