BOSTON -- Kevin Garnett gives Boston a new Big Three that
brings the Celtics much closer to what their old Big Three
delivered -- an NBA title.
The Celtics, who have 16 championships but have gone without one
for more than two decades, obtained the former MVP and 10-time
All-Star on Tuesday in a 7-for-1 deal -- the NBA's biggest trade for
Boston sent the Minnesota Timberwolves forwards Al Jefferson,
Ryan Gomes and Gerald Green, guard Sebastian Telfair and center
Theo Ratliff, two first-round draft picks and cash considerations.
Besides Ratliff, 34, the other four are 24 or younger.
With Paul Pierce and Ray Allen already on the roster, the
Celtics have been transformed from a promising collection of
youngsters who had the NBA's second-worst record last season into
an instant contender in the mediocre Eastern Conference.
"This is probably my best opportunity at winning a ring,"
Garnett said. "It was a no-brainer."
Garnett liked the idea so much he gave the Celtics something of a discount when he subsequently signed an extension.
Based on salary figures obtained by ESPN.com's Marc Stein, Garnett signed a three-year extension worth just over $51 million, with $8.8 million in trade bonuses that take the overall value of the extension to $60 million. Garnett eliminated the early termination portion of his contract as part of the transaction and will see that trade kicker spread out evenly over the next five seasons.
The three-year extension breaks down to earnings of $14.7 million in the 2009-10 season, $17.1 million in 2010-11 and $19.5 million in 2011-12. Garnett was already scheduled to earn $22 million and $23 million over the next two seasons.
The Celtics won their last championship, the third with the
original Big Three of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish,
in 1986. Two members of that club orchestrated Tuesday's
blockbuster trade -- Celtics executive director of basketball
operations Danny Ainge and Timberwolves vice president of
basketball operations Kevin McHale.
But Ainge cautioned that it's much too early to equate the two
"These guys will never be the Big Three until they win" a
championship, he said.
The Timberwolves get the Celtics' first-round pick in 2009,
unless it is among the top three, and a return of Minnesota's
conditional first-round draft pick obtained in January 2006 when
they sent Ricky Davis to the Timberwolves for Wally Szczerbiak.
The previous biggest NBA trade for one player came in 1999, when
Houston obtained Scottie Pippen from Portland for six players.
"I'm confident I made the right decision here, even though that
it was a difficult one," said Wolves owner Glen Taylor, who made
it clear that Garnett did not request a trade.
The Garnett trade eclipses the latest one involving an NBA star,
Allen Iverson. Philadelphia traded the guard and Ivan McFarlin to
Denver last Dec. 19 for Andre Miller, Joe Smith and two first-round
"This is a tremendous day," said a smiling Pierce, who had
been frustrated for years as the sole star on a rebuilding team.
"I feel like a rookie again."
The key to the deal for Minnesota is Jefferson, whom the Celtics
were reluctant to part with. He had a breakout season in 2006-07,
his third with Boston, when he averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds
after struggling with injuries. He joins a youth movement in
Minnesota, which drafted forward Corey Brewer from Florida.
"The past few seasons our on-court performance has been
disappointing to our fans, myself, [owner] Glen Taylor and the
entire organization," McHale said. "Through this trade, we have
obtained very talented, young players with a lot of potential,
future flexibility with the salary cap and two future first-round
NBA draft picks.
"Personally, I want to thank Kevin for all of his hard work
through the years and what he has meant to the Timberwolves
The teams had discussed a trade for the 6-foot-11 Garnett, the
NBA's leading rebounder each of the past four seasons, before the
June draft. But he preferred other teams than Boston, and the
Celtics didn't want to give up Jefferson.
The acquisition of Allen, 32, in a draft-day trade with Seattle
to go with Pierce, 29, was a major factor in changing Garnett's
mind. It gave Garnett, 31, a better chance at a title after
Minnesota missed the last three playoffs in the tough Western
He also realized that he didn't fit in with Minnesota's strategy
of rebuilding with youth and was amazed at all the activity to
finalize the trade.
"It's like being in a Lamborghini doing 200 [mph] with your
head stuck out the window," Garnett said. "It's been like a
whirlwind the last 72 hours."
The Celtics' other starters are second-year point guard
Rajon Rondo and center Kendrick Perkins. Only nine players are under
contract, although they are expected to sign second-round draft
picks Glen Davis, a forward from LSU, and Gabe Pruitt, a guard from
The Timberwolves came within two wins of the NBA Finals in 2004.
Garnett averaged 24.2 points and a league-high 13.9 rebounds that
season, joining Bird as the only players to average at least 20
points, 10 rebounds and five assists for five consecutive years.
But Minnesota has fired two coaches and not made the playoffs
since. Garnett never said he was unhappy and never asked to be
traded, but expressed frustration with some of McHale's personnel
decisions and challenged him to upgrade the roster.
"I'd say this certainly is a big day in our franchise's
history," Taylor said. "Kevin Garnett has really meant a lot to
our franchise, not only as a member of our team, but as a friend.
"On the other hand, it was time we had to make a decision on
the direction of this team, look toward the future and try to
figure out the best way we can develop a team that has a better
record and better success than we've had."
Garnett was the fifth player drafted in 1995, coming out of
Farragut Academy in Illinois and skipping college. He has averaged
more than 20 points and 10 rebounds for each of the last nine
seasons. He is among five players in NBA history with at least
19,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists. The others are
Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and Charles
Barkley. He also is an outstanding defensive player and an
The Timberwolves had lost 60 games in each of the four seasons
before Garnett arrived. But in his second season, he helped lead
them to the first of eight straight playoff appearances.
Before his third season, Garnett got a six-year, $126 million
extension in 1997.
With Garnett, seven-time All-Star Allen and five-time All-Star
Pierce, the Celtics upgraded their profile in a sports market
dominated by the New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox. Owners
John Henry of the Red Sox and Robert Kraft of the Patriots and
Boston Bruins executive vice president Charlie Jacobs all called to
congratulate Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck.
In his four full seasons as executive director of basketball
operations, Ainge has stockpiled youngsters. He could be patient
and let them develop or speed the process through trades for stars.
"We are delighted to have a core of three All-Star talents to
anchor our team," Grousbeck said.
Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.