Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said that while different media sources were speculating about trade possibilities for Kevin Garnett for some time, the only trade that even came close before the actual deal was made was an earlier conversation with the Celtics before the June NBA draft.
"Had the Celtics being willing to give up their fifth pick in the first round and the player we wanted [Florida's Al Horford] been available, plus Al Jefferson, we might have considered that trade," Taylor said. "But they didn't agree to that. Furthermore, at the time, Kevin's agent said he wouldn't go there. They didn't want to make a commitment to him unless he was committed to them."
Taylor said a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers was never close because there was a third team, Charlotte, involved, and the Bobcats never agreed.
Taylor said he did take some calls from NBA owners who had an interest in Garnett, and when that happened, he called Garnett and "just told him that it could leak out in the paper or someplace like that, that he didn't get upset or worried about it."
Taylor said he and Garnett had a number of conversations about Garnett's future, and those conversations eventually led to Garnett wanting to be traded to a team that had a chance to win an NBA title.
"I told Kevin that I had a responsibility to tell him that I think we're going to go younger," Taylor said. "We've tried this free agency three years in a row, you know, bringing veteran guys in. It hasn't worked. ...
"And I said, 'I want you to think about it.' I think over a period of time, certainly about a week or two before the trade, you know, he really came to the conclusion that probably [it] was best for him to move on. When I called him and said that the trade was going to go through, it was a very friendly, cordial talk. But by that time he had talked to people from Boston."
Taylor said there are no plans to spend money to sign free agents this year even though Garnett's big salary is off the books and that he will seek to trade more veterans to free up salary for 2008-09. The Wolves were fifth in the NBA in total payroll last year.
"We were way over the luxury tax to start out with," Taylor said. "So we'll still be a pretty high payroll team, but I think I'm lining us up that starting next year and thereafter, that we will have flexibility. But this year we're going to be a fairly young team."
Taylor said he didn't believe he had any choice but to trade Garnett because Garnett was looking for a three-year extension through the 2011-12 season at $20 million per year and not less. Taylor said there never were any negotiations about Garnett signing a three-year extension for $12 million per year, and if that was the case Taylor would have signed him.
According to the Boston Globe, Garnett ended up with a three-year extension for $51 million with the Celtics, but he also got an additional $9 million because of the trade kicker on his contract. So the Celtics are set to pay him $105 million over the next five seasons.
Talked to Santana
Twins GM Terry Ryan won't confirm or deny that he talked to lefthander Johan Santana. who had criticized Ryan's decision to send Luis Castillo to the Mets while failing to make a deal to strengthen the club. However, I understand Ryan and Santana had a private conversation.
"Those things we keep in house," Ryan said.
Ryan is a classy man and has a way of always handling things in a first-class way. Rest assured, he handled this problem the same way.
"I always do things in private; you know I don't do things publicly," Ryan said. "I'm not going to say how things are handled. If you do some things, I think it's usually behind closed doors."
As for dealing Castillo for two lower-level minor leaguers, Ryan said: "We made the trade because we had some people we felt good about, and [Castillo] was a pending free agent and you don't know if you're going to retain him. It's no different than when we traded [Doug] Mientkiewicz and installed [Justin] Morneau [in July 2004]. It's the same thing."
Jason Tyner, who has batted leadoff every game since Monday's trade after warming the bench most of the year, said he had been a leadoff hitter most of his career. Tyner had been playing some right field in place of injured Michael Cuddyer, and over the past two games with Cuddyer back in the lineup, Tyner has started in left.
"We've got a bunch of great outfielders on this team," said Tyner, hitting .250 (5-for-20) with three runs in five games since the Castillo trade. "... Hopefully, they can find a place for me to keep playing a little bit and whatever happens, as long as we win, that's all that really matters to me."
Flip Saunders, the former Wolves coach now with the Pistons, said the Wolves did acquire a good player from Boston in the 6-10, 22-year-old Jefferson. "He's a very good young player, and he has the ability to score on the low block," Saunders said. "What happens in a trade is the two best players are always going to be compared. So, basically what's going to happen is he's always going to be compared to KG on how good he is. So, that's a tough comparison."
The Twins, Hennepin County and Hines Interests, the Houston company in charge of the land where the new ballpark will be built, will get a ruling on the price of the condemnation of the land on Aug. 20. ... There are only a couple of new things the Twins hope to work out in their lease with the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission for their remaining two seasons in the Metrodome.
Gophers men's basketball coach Tubby Smith hopes to visit in the next few days with Bryce Webster to find out whether he plans to stay with the team. However, close friends of Webster are convinced the 2006 Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year, who saw some playing time last season, won't be a Gopher this season. Meanwhile, Smith and his assistants have been looking at junior college players who could help them in 2008-09. ... The Gophers will play in the "Duel in the Desert" tournament in Las Vegas Dec. 28-30. The other three teams in the event are Kennesaw State (Georgia), Nicholls State (Louisiana) and UNLV.
Twins 2007 first-round pick Ben Revere, an outfielder, was hitting .327 for the Gulf Coast League Twins with 27 runs, four doubles, six triples, 16 RBI and 13 stolen bases.
Former Wolves coach Dwane Casey, who was a finalist for the Seattle SuperSonics coaching job that went to P.J. Carlesimo, apparently will live on his guaranteed salary owed to him by the Wolves this season and not coach anywhere.