Jim Souhan: McHale should be the next Kevin to leave Wolves

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 1, 2007 - 12:18 AM

Trading Kevin Garnett is a good idea, in the same way that climbing onto a life raft in the middle of the ocean is a good idea.

It becomes a good idea only after you scuttle your boat on a reef, and your choices become boarding a life raft or drowning.

Wolves general "manager" Kevin McHale made the best deal he could make under the circumstances. That is not a compliment: It was McHale who created those circumstances, and it appears he was forced to make this deal by his desperate owner.

If McHale had traded Garnett two years ago, when it became obvious the team was going nowhere and Garnett was only going to lose value, McHale would have commanded a ransom. If he had traded him a year ago, he might have incited a bidding war. Instead, McHale waited until he couldn't cut a deal with anybody other than his old buddy Danny Ainge, the Celtics GM, who, without a former teammate to take his roster refuse, might have eclipsed McHale as the worst general manager in the NBA.

Instead, Ainge looks like a comparative genius, in the same way that Homer Simpson might look smart if you stood him next to Lew Ford.

The Garnett deal solidifies our state's status as a farm club for Boston. We've given New England Randy Moss, Manny Fernandez, David Ortiz and Garnett, and what have we gotten in return? "Lump of Coal" Lew, the former Red Sox farmhand, and the role players who helped the Celtics to dozens of victories last year.

Two years ago, Ainge had a lousy team, a lousy reputation and one frustrated star, Paul Pierce. After two trades with McHale, he's rid himself of the execrable Marcus Banks, the unnecessary Justin Reed, the offensive Ricky Davis, the mediocre Mark Blount, the redundant Ryan Gomes, the one-dimensional Gerald Green, the troublesome Sebastian Telfair, the theoretical Theo Ratliff and the promising Al Jefferson.

Ainge now has three stars -- Garnett, Pierce and Ray Allen. The Wolves, like losers in a shell game, have zero. McHale has struck out again, only this time he had no choice.

His owner, Glen Taylor, finally recognized there was no reason to keep Garnett around. The Big Ticket wasn't selling any, fan apathy had reached levels only previously approached by American soccer, and Garnett could have left as a free agent in '08.

Give McHale this much -- he made a better deal this week than Twins GM Terry Ryan, who traded a useful everyday player during a playoff race for two embryos.

McHale made another necessary move Tuesday, buying out the ridiculous contract of Troy Hudson. If he can continue to get rid of the oddities he has overpaid -- such as Trenton Hassell and Marko Jaric -- he could set the Wolves up for a torturous-but-welcomed rebuilding arc, much like Ryan did when he traded his only star, Chuck Knoblauch, in 1998.

With this trade, McHale has effectively taken responsibility for his misguided stewardship of the Wolves by trading the only franchise player in franchise history. Now one Kevin should follow the other out of Target Center.

McHale can resign now with a modicum of dignity, and he should because running this franchise for the next three years will require foresight and patience. Someone who signed Hudson and traded for Jaric, Davis and Blount possesses neither.

McHale did draft Garnett, which was considered a risk at the time. He brought in Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell and took the Wolves to the Western Conference finals.

What he has done the last year and a half is recreate one of the great dynasties in NBA history -- the 2004-2006 Boston Celtics.

McHale added Jefferson, Reed, Davis, Blount, Gomes, Ratliff, Telfair and Green and the suspicion here is he could probably get Banks back if he were willing to trade one of his game-used, Danny Ainge-autographed Celtics jerseys.

You remember the glory days of these recent-vintage Celtics -- like that time they beat the Knicks in the Garden? Me either.

This winter we're destined to see an old, ineffectual former Celtic presiding over a bunch of young, ineffectual former Celtics.

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