KING OF THE WORLD!

KING OF THE WORLD!

It doesn't take a rocket surgeon or a brain scientist to figure out that Al Jefferson has likely played his last game in a Timberwolves uniform. The Wolves stocked up on beefy Euros (Darko and Pekovic), added Michael Beasley and already have Kevin Love; suddenly, Jefferson is part of a logjam, and he's the floater who fits the worst into an up-tempo, semi-triangle offensive team that occasionally might like to protect the rim and play a shred of defense. You hear his name come up all the time now. It's happening more and more. You don't really hear Love in those conversations anymore. Yes, this is probably it for Al.

But this is where the dilemma begins. We really hope the Timberwolves haven't created a buyer's market for Al where a seller's market could have existed. Sure, that's the hitch with any trade scenario: trying not to look desperate while clearly being willing to part with a player. Had the Wolves known they would have so many bigs they liked, they could have dealt Al sooner. But had they dealt Al and not been able to beef up the frontcourt, his absence would have glaring.

Let's not forget, though, that Jefferson is a player who less than two years ago was the face of an (albeit struggling) franchise. He was a 21-11 man in his first season here; he garnered the cover spot on the Star Tribune basketball preview section prior to the 2008-09 season (great picture by Jerry Holt). He followed that with a great first 50 games in 08-09 (23-11) before tearing up his knee. And then: A less explosive Jefferson, a new regime, numbers that dropped to 17-9 last year. But still: on the right team, he's a legitimate 20-10 guy in the NBA with devastating low post moves. There aren't a ton of guys around with his offensive skill set. In other words, he has legitimate value to someone, even if he doesn't have great value here. And while he's a little expensive, he's hardly a salary cap eyesore (3 years, $42 million left) in the modern NBA.

With that in mind: he should not be dealt merely as a space-clearing move. A deal to Dallas solely for Erick Dampier's non-guaranteed contract -- while it would ease the logjam and create some financial flexibility in future years -- is not the way to go. The Wolves aren't nearly good enough to give up proven players for basically nothing; they can't just do a Beasley in reverse. No, the final big deal of David Kahn's offseason must be this: get some legitimate talent in return for Jefferson. Get an established shooting guard. Maybe even Andre Iguodala. Or, at the worst, get a couple of young players with potential tossed in if you are taking on a shorter big-money contract in return. Don't just flip Al for 50 cents on the dollar because of a logjam and a poor-fitting system.