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kriD
11-27-2006, 01:24 PM
Endangered species

Top Timberwolf's future looks bleak because he won't turn his back on his team

By DWAIN PRICE
Star-Telegram Staff Writer

He ushered in the modern era of high school-to-pro phenoms. He will likely be remembered as one of the NBA's greatest players. And few in the game's history have played with as much passion and fire.

But the reality is that Kevin Garnett, the man-child who was selected with the fifth pick of the 1995 draft, may be destined to finish his career playing for a franchise that's simply treading water.

Mismanagement, poor draft selections and spotty talent evaluation have left the Minnesota Timberwolves in shambles, with Garnett forced to carry the franchise's fading hopes.

"It's sad to see," Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki said. "A guy like that, that's working that hard and is trying to do all the right things, you hate to see him in a situation where he won't make the playoffs.

"He's playing his heart out night in and night out. So it's just tough to see him go through that stretch."

Garnett and the T'wolves (6-6), who face the Mavs at 7:30 tonight at American Airlines Center, haven't been to the playoffs since losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2004 Western Conference Finals. Before that, the T'wolves were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in seven consecutive seasons.

In the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Garnett needs a life jacket. Could the T'wolves do the unthinkable and trade their franchise player to a contender before the February trade deadline? Not unless Garnett demands a trade, and that's something his warrior mentality will not allow.

"It's sad that we live in a society that's not built off loyalty and consistency," Garnett told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "Within neighborhoods, ratting is at an all-time high, telling on everybody.

"It seems like people forget about loyalty. I'm such an old-school guy, but the standard now is to move on when something's bad."

Rumors have popped up frequently regarding Garnett's departure, especially during the past two years. This summer he was rumored to be headed to the Chicago Bulls -- he graduated from high school in Chicago -- for two first-round draft picks and either Ben Gordon or Luol Deng.

However, nothing materialized, in part because Garnett, now in his 12th season, never pressed the issue.

"I think a lot of organizations wish they had guys like [Garnett]," Washington Wizards forward Antawn Jamison said. "Everybody pretty much respects him in the league and would love to have him as a teammate.

"He's the reason why the NBA is the best at what it does as far as entertaining and showing respect out there on the court."

Still, Garnett, 30, has to realize that the meter is running on his glorious career. Magic Johnson played 13 seasons and won the last of his five NBA titles when he was 28. Larry Bird also played 13 seasons and captured the last of his three NBA championships when he was 29.

Sure, Bird and Magic were part of a different era and played college basketball, but the question remains relevant: Have we already seen the best Garnett has to offer?

After being drafted out of Chicago's Farragut Academy, Garnett became a nine-time All-Star, the league MVP in 2004 and a mainstay on the NBA's All-Defensive first team. But his scoring and rebounding averages are on pace to decline for the third consecutive season.

If you try hard enough, you can make a case -- though not a very good one -- that Ricky Davis (14 points, 5 assists per game) is Minnesota's second-best player.

It's the proverbial rock and a hard place.

"[Garnett is] their franchise right now, and I don't blame them for not even entertaining thoughts of trading him," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "He's a special player, like Nowitzki, that you have to have special game plans for. He's a freak of nature in a sense. He's 6-11 and can shoot 3s, he can shoot perimeter shots, he's a good passer, he's a good rebounder and he's a heck of a scorer in different ways."

Garnett will earn $21 million this season, and his contract pays him another $46 million the next two seasons. However, he can opt out after the 2007-08 season.

"Everybody speaks from the newsstand, and the newsstand seems to be, 'That ain't working out for him. He needs to leave,'" Garnett said. "You hear former players speaking out. But if I was to go off what everybody else wants me to do, I'd probably be broke, out of the league, by the side of the road, living under a bridge. At some point, you've got to be a man and do what's best for you."

So what's best for KG?

"I would love to stay. That's my plan," Garnett said. "But it's got to be within the boundaries of winning.

"I take a lot of pride in being the face of the T'wolves. I'm pretty sure it would be weird to see me playing in another uniform."


THREATS TO SURVIVAL

Some of the factors that have conspired to keep KG from the top of the NBA food chain:

Bad drafts

In 2000, the NBA handed down a severe punishment to the T'wolves for attempting to circumvent the league's salary cap. Among the harsh penalties was the forfeiture of three future first-round draft picks. But even when the T'wolves had first-round selections, they wasted them: C Paul Grant (1997, 20th pick), C Rasho Nesterovic (1998, 17th), F Wally Szczerbiak (1999, 6th), G William Avery (1999, 14th) and F Ndudi Ebi (2003, 26th pick).

Bad moves

The T'wolves drafted Ray Allen with the fifth overall pick in 1996... and promptly traded him for the draft rights to Stephon Marbury. Oops. Marbury eventually was traded to the Nets because he wasn't happy playing second fiddle to KG. In 2005, the season after they made the Western Conference Finals, the T'wolves traded clutch scorer Sam Cassell and a conditional first-round pick to the Clippers for Lionel Chalmers and Marko Jaric.

Bad luck

Terrell Brandon was an All-Star in 1996 and '97 for Cleveland, and he played well for the T'wolves after they acquired him in 1999. But he suffered a knee injury in 2002 and never played again, retiring in 2004 at 33. Malik Sealy, one of the team's leaders and a valuable scorer, was killed in a car accident in 2000.


IN THE KNOW

The biggest ticket

Kevin Garnett is undoubtedly the greatest player in Minnesota Timberwolves history and one of the top players in the NBA. Some of his career highlights:

Named NBA Most Valuable Player in 2004, averaging 24.2 points (4th in NBA), 13.9 rebounds (1st), and 2.17 blocks (11th) a game.

Timberwolves franchise leader in points (17,595), rebounds (9,710), assists (3,874), steals (1,212) and blocks (1,475).

Nine-time All-Star earned six consecutive first-team NBA All-Defense honors from 1999-2005 and second-team honors in 2006.

Earned All-NBA first-team honors three times (2000, 2003, 2004), second team three times (2001, 2002, 2005) and third team one time (1999).

On March 10, 2006, he became the sixth player in NBA history to record at least 17,000 points, 8,000 rebounds and 3,500 assists, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain and Karl Malone.

EricaLubarsky
11-27-2006, 01:26 PM
"I'm Mike 'superman' James and I wanna play for a contender"

dude1394
11-27-2006, 06:09 PM
"It's sad that we live in a society that's not built off loyalty and consistency," Garnett told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "Within neighborhoods, ratting is at an all-time high, telling on everybody.

"It seems like people forget about loyalty. I'm such an old-school guy, but the standard now is to move on when something's bad."



Give me a break.

sike
11-27-2006, 06:12 PM
yawn

Windmill360
11-27-2006, 06:22 PM
which one is the top Timberwolf again?

snoop
11-27-2006, 09:53 PM
This is what makes me love KG, even if people think it is just a show he has stayed with that team and been a great citizen in the city. I really think this man loves Minny much in the way Dirk loves Dallas and you dont see that too much in this day and age.

TripleDipping
11-27-2006, 10:24 PM
It's easy to like KG when he's losing. I still remember how he was a drama king and a-hole when the wolves were still making the playoffs. I don't really feel sorry for him. Maybe I'm devoid of any human emotions.

dude1394
11-28-2006, 12:11 AM
I don't care much for kg personally at all, I think he's a poser.

However he does have one sweet baseline fallaway, really sweet.

Edit: That's kevin garnett, not KG...I like kg a lot. :) But I don't think he has a sweet fallaway jumper however.

chumdawg
11-28-2006, 12:27 AM
I thought KG played really hard tonight, and I see no reason not to root for him. Dude looks like he cares about winning basketball games.

snoop
11-28-2006, 01:11 AM
I thought KG played really hard tonight, and I see no reason not to root for him. Dude looks like he cares about winning basketball games.

yeah look at tonight game leaders every stat is lead by KG

Murphy3
11-28-2006, 07:33 AM
I always thought he was going to be a more explosive offensive player...but, it never happened.

Usually Lurkin
11-28-2006, 08:44 AM
didn't he punch a teammate?
There was also some report that he wouldn't allow music to be played in the lockerroom (until Spreewell showed up).
And he's infamous for disappearing at cruch time.

Since he came into the league, he's seemed more and more like a talented, overly intense player, a difficult teammate who simply can't use his intensity to motivate others.

I would very much like to see him traded - both because I'd like to see him do well in a better situation and because part of me would like to confirm that he would be equally unsuccessful elsewhere.

kriD
11-28-2006, 12:30 PM
T-Mac can relate to KG

Rockets star learned in Orlando what shouldering team's expectations is like

By JONATHAN FEIGEN
Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

If only Tracy McGrady and Kevin Garnett had that team in the commercials, with Tim Duncan in the middle and Gilbert Arenas and Chauncey Billups in the backcourt.

If you put that fantasy team together for even one season, how different would their careers look?

How different would their reputations be?

"That's an unbelievable team," McGrady said. "Imagine if we were all on the same team."

If they were, McGrady might not be labeled by his years as the league's most prolific scorer. Garnett would likely not be hearing the talk that he should find a way out of Minnesota to a team that could help him become a champion.

Two playoff series wins

McGrady and Garnett, meeting tonight with Garnett's Timberwolves in town for the last game of the Rockets' homestand, are perhaps the league's most celebrated active players to have never taken teams to the NBA Finals. They have won two playoff series between them, both when Garnett and the Timberwolves went to the Western Conference finals in 2003-04.

McGrady, a six-time All-Star, has won two scoring championships. Garnett, a nine-time All-Star, has been the league MVP. Yet they are often labeled, even defined by some, for what they have not done.

McGrady, however, sounds in awe of what Garnett, in his 12th NBA season, still does, particularly since McGrady had his time carrying that load with the Orlando Magic.

"It's exactly the same thing," McGrady said. "He's just been doing it for a longer time than I have. It's tough, and it's frustrating. People looking on us or on him don't understand how tough it really is when a guy has to carry so much on his shoulders.

"He's got to carry the city. He's got to carry the franchise. He's got to make his teammates better. He's got to put up 25, 30 points for his team to win. When you play 82 games in a regular season, it takes a toll on your body. If you have to do that night in and night out, it's really tough, man. But he's not complaining. He's not griping. He's being a true professional going out and doing his job.

"Thank God I don't have to do that anymore."

McGrady doesn't have to carry that load because he was traded to a team with Yao Ming inside.

In what became a bitter, public divorce, McGrady was dealt to the Rockets when he would not pledge to remain in Orlando. While many have suggested Garnett should similarly force his way out of Minnesota, McGrady said Garnett never will.

"Me knowing KG, I know how loyal he is," McGrady said. "He's been there so long, he's stuck through everything that's been going on there. Everybody is talking about how he should demand things and get out, but he's a loyal guy."

Draws criticism

Yet Garnett has been criticized for Minnesota's postseason failings, though rarely in his career have the Timberwolves been expected to do more than they have.

"I just think that Garnett's a tremendous player and competitor and seemingly handles himself extremely well," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "He's only been favored in that year, in those two series. In every other year he's been in the playoffs, he's not been favored. And if you're not favored, it's usually because you're not as good a team."

McGrady knows how his fantasy teammate feels, but when he thought of facing the Timberwolves, the fantasy was over.

"It's a huge challenge for us," he said. "We have the Big Ticket coming in here."

fluid.forty.one
11-28-2006, 12:46 PM
T-Mac can relate to KG

Rockets star learned in Orlando what shouldering team's expectations is like

By JONATHAN FEIGEN
Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle


McGrady and Garnett, meeting tonight with Garnett's Timberwolves in town for the last game of the Rockets' homestand, are perhaps the league's most celebrated active players to have never taken teams to the NBA Finals.

What about that two-time mvp?

dude1394
11-28-2006, 12:52 PM
"He's got to carry the city. He's got to carry the franchise. He's got to make his teammates better. He's got to put up 25, 30 points for his team to win. When you play 82 games in a regular season, it takes a toll on your body. If you have to do that night in and night out, it's really tough, man. But he's not complaining. He's not griping. He's being a true professional going out and doing his job.


This may be why Avery doesn't force everything through dirk.

V2M
11-28-2006, 12:54 PM
"I just think that Garnett's a tremendous player and competitor and seemingly handles himself extremely well," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "He's only been favored in that year, in those two series. In every other year he's been in the playoffs, he's not been favored. And if you're not favored, it's usually because you're not as good a team."


And if you're not as good a team... it's usually 'cuz your superstar ain't all that super!