REPORT: The Timberwolves are on the verge of trading Kevin Garnett to the Phoenix Suns in a three-way deal that would land the Wolves the #3 and #11 pick, along with F/C Zaza Pachulia, presently of the Hawks.
As you know, yours truly has been awfully hard on Kevin McHale -- as recently as yesterday I said his tenure as GM has landed poor draft picks, poorer free agents, and hardly a single trade of note.
That could all change VERY quickly. If the Wolves pull the trigger on this deal, one that would send Amare Stoudamire to Atlanta for the bevy of picks headed to Minnesota, tomorrow evening would become Kevin McHale's new signature moment. He made his mark early in his career as a GM by signing the first high schooler since Moses Malone and that player has become the face of a franchise, earning MVP honors along the way. But this would give McHale and the Wolves three picks in the top 11 of what is seen as the deepest draft in many a year. In fact, if you rule out the first two obvious picks of Greg Oden and Kevin Durant, it in fact gives them three of the "first" nine picks on what would still remain a deep pool of talent. This team would be young, and three years from now will be one hell of a negotiation session to resign everyone, but, if done right, they could cement their spot as a young, talented team for years to come.
Just count on one thing NOT happening, and that's drafting Chinese 7-footer Yi Jianlian with that third pick. Yi has indicated, with the backing of the Chinese government, that he will not go to anything other than a major market. How can the Chinese government back him, you ask? They are his employer -- if he doesn't go to the team that drafts him, they pay him for one more year and he goes back into the draft as a potential number one pick just months before the Beijing Olympics. They can do that -- therefore, despite the lure of selling 1 billion t-shirts, he won't be a Wolves' player next year.
So, that means either Al Horford of Florida or Mike Conley, Jr. of Ohio State with the third pick and likely Jeff Green of Georgetown or Joakim Noah, also of Florida, with the seventh. Frankly, although they project to the same position in the NBA, something has me drooling about the possibility of keeping two players who earned back to back national championships (Horford and Noah) together and adding a third SF/SG type (Corey Brewer, a third Gator, for example) with pick #11. Add a young player in Pachulia who can shoot and rebound and continues to develop (offensively, at least), match them up with the talent of Randy Foye, and although it begs the what-if questions for Mark Blount and Craig Smith if they do draft big, and... well... let's just say McHale is making or breaking his career in just two days.
It's not just better than nothing. It's three lottery picks and the start of a brand new era, for better or worse.