By Marc Stein
Minnesota Timberwolves president David Kahn insists that Al Jefferson has not been made available -- to anyone -- in advance of the Feb. 18 trading deadline.
“As I’ve said publicly,” Kahn told ESPN.com, “I have no intention of trading any of our core players this season.”
It’s a subject we covered in the Weekend Dime after hearing multiple rumbles during last week’s D-League Showcase in Boise, Idaho, that the Wolves were prepared to start exploring the trade market for Jefferson amid questions about Jefferson’s compatibility with Kevin Love and how he fits in Minnesota’s more free-flowing triangle offense under new coach Kurt Rambis.
“A case can be made that either Jefferson or Love -- undeniably good players individually who are still both developing -- would be helped greatly by playing next to a more athletic sidekick no matter what the system.”
But a source with knowledge of the Wolves’ thinking subsequently dismissed the idea that Kahn would part with Jefferson just a half-season into his recovery from a torn ACL in his right knee that limited him to 50 games in the 2008-09 season.
In a pretty candid recent appearance on ESPN’s NBA Today podcast with Ryen Russillo, Kahn himself conceded that the Wolves aren’t sure if Jefferson and Love can play together in the long term . . . but also said that it’s too early in Jefferson’s comeback for such judgments. The interview sure made it sound as though Minnesota wants to give the tag team an entire season of evaluation before thinking about breaking them up, since Jefferson -- when healthy -- ranks as one of the league’s last true back-to-the-basket forces.
Jefferson speculation, however, isn’t likely to be easily hushed now that it’s out there. Yahoo! Sports reported Sunday that the Wolves recently offered the original centerpiece of Minnesota’s post-Kevin Garnett era to Indiana for a return package headlined by Pacers swingman Danny Granger.
No such discussions have taken place according to Kahn, who said Monday: “I spoke to [Pacers president] Larry Bird in person Friday in between our shootarounds for 20 minutes and neither player’s name was ever mentioned.”