Al Jefferson and Gerald Green were part of the haul the Wolves got for Kevin Garnett.
What Went Right:
Goodbye Big Ticket, hello lottery ticket!
The Wolves got maximum quantity and even some quality in their mega-trade of Kevin Garnett. This team, surely headed back to the lottery next spring, won't be adding a lot of season ticket holders. But with so many new faces and jersey numbers, it does figure to sell plenty of programs.
Kevin McHale gets a real low-post pupil.
Al Jefferson is nine years younger than Garnett and, based on last season's stats, only four points and two rebounds shy of the numbers Garnett likely will average in Boston. Big Al should be able to get those just in all of Minnesota's garbage times.
Is it possible? Three solid first-rounders in a row?
Drafting Corey Brewer with the No. 7 pick feels right. Brewer has the sort of full-court athletic ability this team frequently has lacked, and can make an instant impact on defense. He joins last year's No. 7 pick, Randy Foye, who made the all-rookie team, and the No. 14 pick from 2005, Rashad McCants, whose season could be make-or-break in a full comeback from knee surgery.
What Went Wrong:
The Garnett era ends sadly.
Say what you want about moving on; the Wolves and their fans likely will never get 12 seasons of Hall of Fame-worthy play from any other player, ever, like it got from Garnett.
No Fab Five on this floor.
Pity Juwan Howard, acquired from Houston for Mike James. The veteran power forward celebrates his trade to Minnesota for the chance finally to play alongside Garnett, then almost immediately watches Garnett ship off to Boston.
They lead the league in buyers' remorse.
Giving up on James after one season was almost as bad as signing him to that four-year, free-agent contract last summer in the first place. Minnesota spent more time trying to groom Marcus Banks for its point guard job late in 2005-06 than it did finding a solution to James' ineffectiveness last season.
Still more liabilities than assets.
This team got out from under its obligation to James, but it had to buy out Troy Hudson's bloated contract and still is stuck with burdensome deals to Marko Jaric, Mark Blount and Trenton Hassell.
The Wolves painted themselves into a corner, to the point that trading Garnett was their only way out. But keeping the Kevin McHale regime intact to begin a rebuilding plan, rather than holding him responsible for squandering Garnett's years in Minnesota, is a mistake.
What Went Right:
Looking forward to Atkins diet.
Guard Chucky Atkins is a nice pickup with a good shooting touch, even if he isn't the perfect choice to log heavy minutes running an up-tempo Nuggets attack. He might never top the 13.2 ppg and 4.6 apg he averaged last season, but he has hit 37 percent of his 3-pointers over his career.
Now they hope to get Martinized.
You can feel the spin already: "Getting Kenyon Martin back healthy would be like adding an All-Star caliber player." Except that Martin has had the worst two seasons of his career since arriving in Denver, hobbled by injuries two seasons ago and shut down completely after just two games last season. The microfracture surgery he had this time was his second such procedure, so don't be counting on 19.1 ppg, 11.0 rpg and 53.3 FG percentage like K-Mart gave the Nets in 2003-04.
What Went Wrong:
Still searching for a playmaker.
As much as the Nuggets missed Earl Boykins, the guy who came back in the deal, Steve Blake, did a nice job. Nice enough to earn a three-year offer from the Trail Blazers, with Blake all too happy to return to Portland. Coach George Karl keeps losing point guards he likes, even if he seems to like them more after they're gone.
End of the roster offers little.
DerMarr Johnson, an unrestricted free agent, wasn't expected back, though center Jamal Sampson, also unrestricted, might return. Balance of power in the division hinges on neither.
It's hard to understand the stand-pat approach. If Atkins' three-year, $10 million is all Nuggets management is willing to do now that its payroll is well into luxury-tax liability, these guys aren't only not closing the gap in the West with San Antonio, Phoenix and Dallas, they're losing ground to Portland and Seattle.
Steve Aschburner covered the Minnesota Timberwolves and the NBA for 13 seasons for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. He served as president of the Professional Basketball Writers Association from 2005-2007.