Cassell never saw Garnett tank; KG won't trade jabs with Taylor

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 19, 2008 - 10:57 PM

The former Wolves guard, now reunited with Garnett in Boston, spoke out about KG's relentless work ethic and the good he did here for the community.

It wasn't a surprise that Sam Cassell, a Timberwolves teammate of Kevin Garnett's for two seasons (2003-04 and 2004-05) -- including a run to the Western Conference finals in their first year together -- came to the defense of Garnett after Wolves owner Glen Taylor accused Garnett of tanking by pulling himself out of the lineup for the final five games last year.

Cassell and Garnett are again teammates, after Cassell signed with the Boston Celtics earlier this month.

"Ask anybody in the [Wolves] organization if Kevin tanks anything. Games? Practice? I wish he did tank a couple of practices," Cassell told the Boston Globe. "I was there. I know the goings-on there. I hear the pains and what they say about Kev. I know what Kevin means to that community. The good things that Kevin did for that community was outrageous."

Well, one of the several reasons Taylor and Wolves vice president Kevin McHale had a fallout was because the Wolves traded Cassell to the Clippers in August 2005.

Garnett made it clear to teammates that he thought it was a horrible deal, and the trade didn't help his relationship with the ownership and McHale, which was already rocky.

Nobody will ever convince me that Garnett wanted to leave here, despite the poor record of the team. To the best of my knowledge, he still owns his home here and plans to spend time here.

In response to Taylor's remarks, Garnett told the Boston Globe: "First off, I want to say Glen Taylor was good to me when I was a Timberwolf and I'm a Boston Celtic now. I'm not going to be going back and forth saying tasteless things. That's not my character.

"I have nothing to do with the Minnesota Timberwolves. That's in the past. I'm in a new chapter in my life. ... I thank them for the opportunity they gave me when I was younger and not only being able to explore my dream, but to be able to make it where I'm at today. That's all I'm going to say about that."

Taylor's remarks were a big surprise to me because they were out of character for him. But when I talked to him Wednesday, Taylor did not back down from his statements, but did not want to further comment on the matter.

Want All-Star Game

The Twins continue to have discussions with Major League Baseball about being host of the 2014 All-Star Game in the new downtown Minneapolis ballpark.

The Twins are averaging nearly 7,800 fans for spring training games at Fort Myers' Hammond Stadium and rank fourth in Grapefruit League attendance.

The Twins have sold 1.1 million tickets for the 2008 regular season, and more than 45,000 tickets have been sold for Opening Day against Torii Hun- ter and the Los Angeles Angels on March 31 at the Metrodome. The opener, which will be televised nationally by ESPN, will start at 6:05 p.m.

The Twins are planning a video tribute to Hunter before the opener. Before the second game of the Angels series, they will present their former center fielder with his seventh consecutive Gold Glove.

Will try to sign Frerotte

Quarterback Gus Frerotte, who spent two seasons (2003, 2004) with the Vikings as Daunte Culpepper's backup and should get credit for some of Culpepper's success while here, had lunch with coach Brad Childress and other coaches here Wednesday and learned Childress would consider him the perfect backup for Tarvaris Jackson.

The Vikings definitely will try to sign Frerotte today before he leaves.

"Yeah, there's always a chance but we've got to see how it goes," Frerotte said. "I don't know what's going to happen with everything, obviously that's why I'm here taking the tour again. Well yeah, obviously I know it, I'm familiar with [this area] and a lot of things."

During Frerotte's two years with the Vikings, he was a great tutor for Culpepper and a great confidence-builder, something he could do for Jackson.

In 2003, Culpepper had a great year. He completed 295 of 454 passes (65 percent) for 3,479 yards and 25 touchdowns, with 11 interceptions.

In 2004, had Peyton Manning not had such a super year with the Colts, Culpepper might have won the MVP award. Culpepper had career bests in nearly every passing category, completing 379 of 548 passes (69.2 percent) for 4,717 yards and 39 touchdowns, with 11 interceptions.

Jottings

That was a beat-up Gophers men's basketball team that lost 68-58 to Maryland on Tuesday night. Freshman guard Blake Hoffarber went into the game with a cracked bone in his shooting hand that he suffered in the last play of the loss to Illinois in the Big Ten tournament semifinals, and he played all year despite having a form of plantar fasciitis in one foot. Senior forward Dan Coleman dislocated a finger on his shooting hand while blocking a shot in the first half of the Maryland game. Senior guard Lawrence McKenzie tried to play with a bad arch injury and couldn't do it. Senior center Spencer Tollackson was hampered while playing on his sprained ankle in the Illinois and Maryland games.

Gophers basketball attendance was up 2,014 per game (18 percent), with an average crowd of 12,988. Coach Tubby Smith's arrival resulted in the highest average attendance since the 1999-2000 season. ... On the other hand, even rabid hockey fans like a winner: Gophers hockey averaged 9,943, down only 118 fans per game (1 percent), the first time in many years there hasn't been an increase. ... Gophers football season tickets will remain at $250.00. The Gophers are packaging the Iowa game and the opener with Northern Illinois this year. For a total of $70, you can get tickets to both games.

Should Kim Royston, the former Cretin-Derham Hall defensive back, transfer from Wisconsin to Minnesota or any other Big Ten school, he would not be eligible for a scholarship. The Big Ten has a rule that an athlete can't transfer from one conference school to another and get a scholarship for a second time in the league.

Former Gopher and Sioux Falls coach Kevin Hartzell won his 300th USHL career game Friday when the Stampede defeated Tri-City. Kevin's son, Eric, is the goaltender for the team and 15-8-2 with a 2.82 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage. Future Gopher Jake Hansen of White Bear Lake is second in the league in goals, 31, and second on the team in scoring with 56 points. Teammate Jack Connolly of Duluth leads the league in scoring with 67 points.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on his Podcast twice a week at www.startribune.com/sidcast. shartman@startribune.com

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