When the #7 envelope was opened to reveal the Timberwolves logo, it was the equivalent of putting a bullet through this franchise’s chest. Landing one of the first two picks seemed like the Timberwolves only hope of salvaging the dream of Garnett winning a title as a T-Wolf. At that point, Wolves fans were left grasping for straws…
[ad2] “If Randy Foye ends up being a Deron Williams or Chris Paul, and our #7 pick ends up being a stud, and we can pull off some miracle trade, well, then we’ll have a shot!”
These are the things you tell yourself when you desperately need hope. After the lottery night, the Timberwolves nation saw its last ray of it fade away. It’s been a long, painful week full of racking our brains to find a way out of this mess. Like that contestant on Survivor who’s alliance is outnumbered 5-2, we’ve been running the numbers and constantly mulling over scenarios looking for the one strategy that will turn the tables in our favor. But despite our best efforts, deep down, we know our torch is inevitably going to be snuffed out.
And then Kobe Bryant went and demanded a trade.
In that instant, hope came flooding back into our lives like a tidal wave. Finally a player who could change our entire future was “available”. Even though the odds of us trading for him are a mile long, there’s still a chance. And just the fantasy of having Kobe and KG teamed up together has made life as a Timberwolves fan, much, much better.
Now for the logistics…
Kobe has a no trade clause which means the Lakers can’t send him anywhere he doesn’t want to go. This is pretty important, because if Kobe doesn’t want to come to Minnesota, then it’s not happening. The general consensus is the Kobe’s ego is going to keep him in a major market - New York, Chicago, L.A., Houston, Dallas, or Philly. I’d have to agree that any of those place are probably more appealing to him than the frozen tundra of Minnesota. However, the Wolves have one thing that none of those other teams do - Kevin Garnett.
Kevin Garnett is the absolute PERFECT teammate for Kobe. In fact, he’s probably the only superstar in the league that Bryant could co-exist with. Garnett has next to no ego. He’s 100% team driven and entirely fed up with losing. He’d welcome Kobe with open arms, defer to him when needed, and have no problem sharing or even giving the spotlight to him. You think that Dirk, Nash, LeBron, Carmelo, Iverson, or Duncan could handle him as well? Not a chance.
You’d have to think that Kobe would salivate at the chance to pair with KG. That fact alone is probably what could keep the Wolves in the running.
Of course Kobe’s not in total control. The Lakers still have to make the trade. And here’s what I’m proposing the Wolves offer L.A. for Kobe, straight-up.
Just when you thought the Timberwolves were finished… [image2]
Ricky Davis (6-7 million dollar expiring contract and our second best player), Randy Foye (lots of upside), Marko Jaric (in order to make salaries work, we have to include one of our bad contract because there aren’t any good ones), and whoever we select with the #7 pick (Lakers choice). We can’t simply trade the pick, because our next one goes to the Clippers. But we could draft the player and then send him to L.A.
This gives L.A. an good player with an expiring deal and two up and coming rookies. This leaves the Wolves pretty much decimated, but we’d have KG and Kobe. How hard could it be to build around that nucleus?
You’re never going to get fair value for Kobe. Especially when he can veto any deal and everyone knows the Lakers would be desperate. I don’t think that deal would be horrible for them given the situation. However, other teams may be able to outbid us. So let’s take a look at that possibility.
Bill Simmons proposed a number of potential trades. They all made pretty good sense. Here’s how I rank them in comparison to the Wolves offer I proposed.
Houston trades Tracy McGrady, Bobby Sura (expiring contract in 2008) and the No. 26 pick for Kobe and Vladimir Radmanovic.
T-Mac is definitely better than any player we offered. However, this would basically be trading Kobe for Kobe Light. I don’t see how this makes them any better. They’d be a worse team with the same problems. The Wolves could at least give them some young players and a new direction.
Better offer: Wolves
Philadelphia trades Andre Igoudala, Sam Dalembert, Kevin Ollie (expiring contract in 2008), the No. 12 pick and the No. 21 pick for Kobe.
One, Kobe is pretty hated in Philly, so I’m not sure he’d want to go there. Two, I’d rather have the #7 pick than the #12 and #21. Ricky Davis and Randy Foye vs. Andre Igoudala and Sammy Dalembert? Tough call. I’d personally go with Davis and Foye since Randy’s got more potential and Dalembert’s contract is kinda bad.
Better offer: Wolves
Boston trades Theo Ratliff (expires in 2008), Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, the No. 5 pick and their rights to Minny’s future No. 1 for Kobe.
Boston offers a better expiring deal, a better pick, and additional pick, and a young player with just as much upside as Foye.
Better offer: Boston, no question.
Dallas trades Josh Howard, Jason Terry and Jerry Stackhouse (sign-and-trade starting at $7.3 million per) for Kobe.
There’s no pick here and no expiring deal. Howard’s a nice young player and Terry’s a solid PG. Stackhouse at 7.3 million is a little steep in my book. (This is coming from the guy who’s team has Mark Blount locked up for the same amount) I just don’t know if the Lakers would really want a deal that provides no cap relief and no picks.
Better offer: Wolves
Atlanta trades Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Ty Lue and the No. 11 pick for Kobe and Radmanovic.
Joe Johnson is wildly overpaid. Marvin Williams cancels out Foye. Again, the #7 pick is better than the #11. And you can’t tell me Kobe’s okay-ing a trade with Atlanta.
Better offer: Wolves
Chicago trades Luol Deng, Ben Gordon, Victor Khryapa and the No. 9 pick for Kobe.
Deng is by far the best player being offered so far. Ben Gordon is also a nice addition. The #7 pick beats the #9 pick, but not by much.
Better offer: Chicago, by far.
Phoenix trades Shawn Marion, Leandro Barbosa, Marcus Banks and the rights to Atlanta’s 2008 first-rounder to the Lakers for Kobe and Radmanovic.
Marion is right up there with Deng as one of the best players on the table. Barbosa’s a nice player. And Atlanta’s 2008 pick could pan out better than our #7.
Better offer: Phoenix
I’d rank the potential trades as Chicago, Boston, Phoenix, and then the Wolves. I’m guessing that Kobe would probably be alright with any of those destinations, so that’s not really a factor. I’m pretty sure the Lakers would do everything in their power to avoid shipping Kobe to Phoenix, so that will definitely hurt their chances. With that in mind, I’d rank Minnesota as the #3 destination.
So this means we have to somehow beat out Chicago or Boston. Basically all we could do is throw in players like McCants and Craig Smith. But at what point are we adding too many players to the mix. If the Lakers make a 6 for 1 swap, how are they going to play everyone?
Simmons seems to think that the Lakers would hesitate to send Kobe to Boston because of the history. If I’m the Lakers GM, I don’t let that stop me from making the best deal I can. He also thinks that Paxson might balk at including Deng. I think Paxson would be nuts if he did.
So after examining it all, the Wolves definitely have a chance. Of course that’s only if Chicago and Boston mess things up for themselves. But hey, at least we’ve got hope for a few more weeks…