Sid Hartman: Truth is, Garnett rumors are just that

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 27, 2007 - 10:49 PM

Only Kevin McHale knows what's really going on regarding a possible deal for the Timberwolves star, but website hearsay forces the media to report on it.

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Kevin Garnett dunks againsgt Seattle on Tuesday night.

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Various websites continue to speculate on deals that could send Timberwolves star Kevin Garnett to the Lakers, Celtics, Suns or Hawks.

Nobody knows what to believe or not to believe because Kevin McHale, the Wolves vice president of basketball operations who is at the center of the trade discussions, isn't talking about it. The Internet, however, has changed how reporting is normally done. There is a lot of speculation, and the media are forced to cover it, not knowing whether it is accurate or not.

Wolves owner Glen Taylor said last week it would take a blockbuster offer for the Timberwolves to trade Garnett. And you wonder what Garnett's attitude will be if, after all of this speculation, nothing happens.

One thing McHale will talk about, however, is today's NBA draft. "This is a good, solid draft," he said. "I think there are 10, 12 really good, solid, quality players that come in with a real good upside and are NBA-ready."

Then again, McHale said there are some players who are projects and absolutely not NBA-ready.

"I think some of the project guys will go 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, probably the way it should, because there are some [NBA-] ready guys," McHale said.

McHale seemed to speak more glowingly about the quality of the players in this year's draft than he has in previous interviews.

"There's no question I would be shocked if we don't get a guy who can step in next year and play similar to what Randy [Foye] and Craig [Smith] did," McHale said. "There's some mature guys that can come in and play."

As I have said before, if Florida star Corey Brewer is available, I expect the Wolves will draft the small forward, who could step in and start next year and help make this a better team. It will be difficult to make a mistake with the Wolves picking No. 7 in this year's draft. And one reason the Wolves are considering trading Garnett is that they could acquire two additional first-round draft picks and possibly pluck three starters out of the draft.

Neshek is hot

Pat Neshek, the 26-year-old from Brooklyn Park who was acquired in the sixth round of the 2002 draft by the Twins, has a sensational 1.18 ERA, which is fourth-best in the major leagues.

The three pitchers ahead of the righthanded reliever are Kevin Cameron of San Diego (0.36 ERA), Hideki Okajima of Boston (0.95) and J.J. Putz of Seattle (0.99).

Neshek has not given up a run in 28 of his past 30 appearances. In the past 12 2/3 innings he has given up one earned run (0.66 ERA) and has 15 strikeouts.

"It's a lot different, you know, than last year," Neshek said. "I started the year up in Rochester in Triple-A and when I went into the big-league camp last year I really didn't know anybody -- nobody really knew who I was.

"You go into spring training this year and you know everybody in the clubhouse. It's a good feeling and you don't really have that -- I don't know -- that feeling where you know you don't know what's going on, kind of."

Neshek said he has been working on adding a changeup to his repertoire. "It's still not where I want it to be," he said. "I feel a lot more comfortable throwing it. I've been throwing it a lot to the lefthanded batters, so, you know, if I get a lefty out you might have seen me using it.

"The righties have always been the easiest for me, just with the way the ball moves, you know, from coming from the sidearm. The ball has a tendency to run in on righthanded hitters, and vice versa, it runs away from lefthanded hitters. That's where my strength is going to be, so you know that's why I had to add the changeup --to help get some of those lefties out."

Jottings

Who do you believe? In March, Forbes Magazine rated McHale the best general manager in the four major professional sports (NBA, MLB, NHL and NFL). Now Sports Illustrated recently ranked the NBA personnel bosses from No. 1 to No. 30, and McHale ranked last. Billy Knight of the Atlanta Hawks and Michael Jordan of the Charlotte Bobcats were No. 28 and No. 29, respectively. The top three were R.C. Buford of the San Antonio Spurs, Donnie Nelson of the Dallas Mavericks and Detroit's Joe Dumars. The truth is nobody really knows. Had the Spurs not been fortunate enough to get David Robinson and then Tim Duncan in the lottery, I'm sure Buford would not rank No. 1.

Timberwolves European scout Pete Philo said Yi Jianlian, the Chinese player who will go high in the draft, might be a little more culturally ready to play in the NBA than Houston Rockets star Yao Ming was at the same age. "He's a guy that has been outside of China a little bit more, whereas Yao was not, at that age. That's a tough culture to leave from, but he's going to be pretty good, I think," said Philo, who expects three or four foreign-born players to go in the first round of the draft.

Rick Spielman, the Vikings vice president of player personnel, said, "We may be involved with an international player that would be joining us for the whole year and be a part of our practice squad. It's kind of an NFL initiative to develop European players, and our division is one of the divisions that will host an international player, which gives you an extra practice squad guy for the entire year."

Alex Goligoski, the Gophers defenseman who was selected in the second round of the 2004 draft by Pittsburgh, has informed Penguins General Manager Ray Shero that he will decide by Sunday whether to sign a pro contract or return to college. ... Two New Jersey Devil stars -- former Gopher Paul Martin and Zach Parise, the former North Dakota star from Faribault, are restricted free agents. So if the Wild is interested in two of the Devils' best players, it could make them offers. Of course, the Devils could match them.

Gopher Illustrated reports DeLaSalle star Royce White is now ranked 17th in the nation among junior basketball players. Early on, White received offers from Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan State, but after performing well in the recent Nike Hoop Jamboree has received many other offers. Mike Broghammer of Hopkins and Rodney Williams of Robbinsdale Cooper also performed well in the Nike Hoop Jamboree.

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