THERE IS NO
CHANCE that Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett will be among the players
changing uniforms by the Feb. 23 trading deadline, and there is only a slight
chance that 76ers guard Allen Iverson will be dealt. Some would call it
ridiculous even to suggest trading those two worthies, who on Sunday will
extend All-Star appearance streaks that started in 1997 (Garnett) and 2000
it's ridiculous," says Minnesota G.M. Kevin McHale. "It's only because
jackasses like you write articles like this that the subject even comes
up." (He was kidding about the jackass part. Sort of.)
throughout the league there is building sentiment that Garnett and Iverson have
reached a point of diminishing returns. "Kevin's pilot light is out,"
says one Eastern Conference coach. "Iverson's best days are behind
him," says one Western G.M. The home crowd's love affairs with their stars
have abated, as have the size of those crowds.
In other words,
what was once unthinkable is now almost topical. Talk of a deal has been kicked
around in Philadelphia, where a Daily News column earlier this month stirred
the AI-might-go pot. "I listened with great interest as several 'high-end'
season-ticket holders talked to me about an unofficial survey conducted by a
Sixers official concerning possible life without Allen Iverson," wrote John
Smallwood. G.M. Billy King denied that the team had initiated such a poll.
Trading the Answer, he insists, is not the answer.
So, under what
circumstances could the two franchises move their franchise players? SI
consulted three G.M.'s--none of whom, it should be added, believed that either
Garnett or Iverson will be dealt--to get a consensus on what conditions should
be met if the Sixers or T-Wolves dare to take the plunge.
?Any deal has to
be a package that yields future draft picks, at least one young prospect and
cap relief to clear space for signing major free agents.
?Any deal has to
appear to be an attempt at building for a championship, not just a salary dump.
At least in the short term, Minnesota and Philadelphia fans are far more likely
to embrace a .500 team built along the lines of, say, the young Hornets--whose
youth and exciting style suggest future success.
?Any deal has to
send the star to a good team. Even if fans have run out of patience with the
incumbent, a trade that seems to punish him would leave a bad taste in their
team pull the trigger? The view from here is no for the Timberwolves and maybe
for the 76ers. Though some of his passion has gone, Garnett, 29, is a still a
6'11" stud with a smorgasbord of talents. There is almost no way Minnesota
would get equal value. Iverson, as valiant and brilliant as he is, is a
different story. He's only a year older than Garnett, but he's given his
6-foot, 165-pound body to the game. He's a defensive liability (KG is not) and
will be more of one when he no longer has the legs to haunt the passing lanes.
He's a guard, and teams can find guards much easier than skilled big men.
Where could AI
go? Possibilities include the Mavericks (who have a deep roster and an owner
with cojones), the Sonics (who could dangle Ray Allen and other pieces) and the
Trail Blazers (who are always looking to deal and have plenty of young pieces).
Only a jackass would say that moving Iverson is a no-brainer. But it isn't
crazy for King to think long and hard now about what his star might fetch.