Trade grades: Nets ship Kevin Garnett to Wolves for Thaddeus Young
Garnett, 38, was selected by Minnesota in the first round of the 1995 draft. After making 10 All-Star appearances for the Timberwolves, Garnett was traded to the Celtics in 2007. The future Hall of Fame power forward went on to win the only title of his career in 2008. Garnett is averaging 6.8 points and 6.8 rebounds while earning $12 million this season. His contract expires this summer and and many assumed he was headed for retirement.
Young, 26, was acquired by Minnesota from Philadelphia in a trade last August. The 6-foot-8 power forward is averaging 14.3 points and 5.1 rebounds this season. This summer, he can opt out of a contract that is paying him $9.4 million this season and $10 million next season.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Grade: F
This originally came off as a pretty cheap attempt to grab a positive headline during a brutal season, but Timberwolves president Flip Saunders is reportedly intent on keeping Garnett around for awhile. It's enough to make you scratch your head.
Young's short tenure really reveals Saunders' muddled thoughts about his team. Last summer, he moved a first-round pick to add Young as a downgrade replacement for Kevin Love, even though his squad was bound to enter an extended rebuilding cycle, even though that extra pick could have been very helpful, and even though Saunders had acquired a young frontcourt prospect in Anthony Bennett during the Love deal. That deal raised eyebrows at the time and it looked worse and worse as Minnesota plunged down the standings.
Now, Saunders has embraced the youth movement by trading away some veterans, featuring Andrew Wiggins and adding Adreian Payne. Into that logical mix falls Garnett, who is at least two years away from playing consistent basketball. His acquisition neatly ties a bow on an outstanding career, it will surely be hyped as a crucial locker room move, and it would lay the groundwork for a transition to a potential position in management or ownership -- that is, if the Associated Press wasn't already reporting that Minnesota is interested in signing Garnett to a two-year extension. Why? Why! Why?
There's just no reason for a team in a youth movement to invest any playing time or cap space in a player at this stage of his career. If his mentorship is that desired, make him a ridiculously well-paid assistant coach. Garnett's oversized personality and legendary status ensure that he will be a defining personality in the locker room. Why reach way back into the past when Wiggins and others are already charting a course for the future? Only Saunders knows. Every time Garnett misses a game over the next year or two, and there will be many of those times, remember that he could have been a first-round pick (if the first Young trade hadn't happened) or he could have been something (if Saunders could have worked up a better offer during the second Young trade). Poor Wiggins.
Brooklyn Nets: Grade: C
It doesn't happen every day, but the Nets just won a trade. Let's call it a modest win. The deal saves Brooklyn a pro-rated portion of the $2.4 million between Garnett's salary and Young's salary and it will also help make a dent in the Nets' luxury tax bill. Brooklyn is going nowhere fast with its current core; dumping contracts and scratching out savings in that environment is a logical and commendable thing to do.
Brooklyn will get a chance to evaluate Young, who isn't too far removed from a career year in Philadelphia in 2013-14. There are plenty more roster changes coming for the Nets in the near future; Young will get the opportunity to see how he fits in Brooklyn before weighing all of his options this summer.
Celebration isn't exactly in order here, if only because the Nets are still so hampered by the fallout created by the 2013 trade that landed Garnett and Paul Pierce from the Celtics. The hole of the future is slightly smaller but it's still a hole: Deron Williams and Joe Johnson are still on the books and all those lost picks are still gone. Brooklyn might have shoveled a little dirt here, but they're still about five feet and six inches underground.