Garnett voices complaints as Timberwolves struggle

MINNEAPOLIS -- Kevin Garnett has seen some difficult times
during his 11 seasons in Minnesota.
From the death of teammate and friend Malik Sealy in 2000, to
years of first-round playoff exits, to last season's epic fall from
Western Conference finalists to the lottery, the disappointments
have been many.
Yet this may be Garnett's most challenging season yet, and as
his Timberwolves sink toward missing the playoffs for a second
straight year, the former MVP is letting it be known that his
patience is wearing thin.
"I don't want to go through this any more," Garnett said after
the Wolves squeaked out a win over the lowly New York Knicks on
Sunday. "I think I'm more deserving of a better team and I think
the city's more deserving of a better team, coming in here having
something that's going to be competitive and having us getting back
to the Western Conference finals. But I do know you just can't
blink and it's going to happen; you have to actually spend the time
and effort. So, we'll see."
The Timberwolves were off on Monday and after practice on
Tuesday, Garnett, as usual, declined to speak to reporters. His
coach and teammates, however, echoed the sentiments when talking
about a trying season. While not mathematically eliminated from the
playoff race just yet, the Timberwolves trail eighth-place
Sacramento by six games with 12 to play.
"Kevin has opinions and is frustrated," first-year coach Dwane
Casey said Tuesday after practice. "We're all frustrated. We're
not happy with where we are. Nobody wants to not be fighting for
the division lead. I think he just spoke his mind on the feeling of
everyone, from [owner] Glen Taylor all the way down to our trainer.
We're not happy, our fans our not happy. It is frustrating to be in
this situation, but it's something we have to build on."
Garnett certainly is trying. In a town where former Vikings
receiver Randy Moss once infamously uttered, "I play when I want
to play," no one has ever questioned KG's effort. He is averaging
21.8 points and 12.4 rebounds in 39 minutes this season, the latest
in a long line of superb performances.
For all those efforts and all that energy expended, the wins
have been hard to come by. The young Timberwolves enter Wednesday
night's game at 29-41, well on their way to their worst record
since they won 26 games in 1995-96.
"We're not in such dire straits as everyone thinks," Casey
said. "We're probably in the rebuilding process, whatever, but I
think we're a couple pieces away, or not that far away from getting
to where we want to be. ... But it's a process."
For the most part, Garnett has kept quiet, preferring not to
criticize teammates or the organization in public. He had some
strong words for vice president Kevin McHale during a television
interview early in the season, and questioned his teammates'
commitment after a loss to Phoenix on March 11, but Sunday's
comments were the most poignant yet.
"I've always said I'll be in Minnesota as long as they want me
here," he said after the game. "I don't think I can take another
one of these rebuilding stages. I've always said that I think I'm
worth not only being listened to but I think I'm definitely in a
position where I [should] have a team and ... a chance to win a
ring. So I think, at the end of the day, they should at least give
me that. If it's anything different from that, then it's a
discussion we have to talk about."
McHale has declined all interview requests, but it's clear he
has some work to do in the offseason. He tried to shake up the team
in February, when he traded Wally Szczerbiak and Michael Olowokandi
to Boston for Ricky Davis, Marcus Banks and Mark Blount.
The Timberwolves have been slow to jell since, and Taylor may be
forced to spend some serious money on free agents in the offseason
to keep his only superstar happy.
"I have faith in Glen that he'll do the right thing," Garnett
His teammates hear their leader loud and clear.
"I think Kev's a really emotional guy," said Banks, one of the
young players who has been learning on the job. "He wears his
emotions on his shoulders. You know when he's mad. You know when
things are not going well. Every night he's going to come out and
give you 100 percent."