Garnett Knows Time Is Running Out For A Title In Minnesota

By Jim Souhan
Updated: August 16, 2006

MINNEAPOLIS — Kevin Garnett, in a recent interview with SLAM Magazine, said he would want to leave the Timberwolves if they don’t make progress toward a championship. “I got to,” he said.

He also ripped the Timberwolves’ front office and lauded himself for his consistency, making you wish he could see himself as clearly as he sees his bosses.

It is a persistently human flaw to emphasize others’ faults while ignoring your own. In Garnett’s case, it is a flaw that, combined with the persistent ineptitude of the Wolves’ braintrust, has turned the Target Center tenant into the worst-run pro sports franchise in town, even if the Purple did hire and fire Fran Foley in the same amount of time it takes to play the last two minutes of an NBA playoff game.

In the SLAM interview, Garnett said this: “I’m motivated because of self, man. I feel like I’m the start and finish of a lot of things, and I don’t mind that pressure on me because I am an example and I’m willing to work toward something.

“But one thing that I can’t stand is if I’m working hard and the organization upstairs isn’t working hard, it’s not fair. It’s not fair to me. That’s not fair to a person who’s actually trying to get a championship. I feel like when it works is when both sides are just as active and as hungry.”

Of himself, Garnett said this: “Consistency is the big thing that I work on. … It’s very hard night-in, night-out to get things done, and I find a way to do them. I hope I don’t jinx myself or whatever, I’m just keeping it real.”

A more realistic assessment would have been something like this: My organization’s an embarrassment, but I have to take some responsibility, too. I never developed into a fourth-quarter scoring threat. I can lead my team in terms of effort and work ethic and versatility, but my team can’t throw me the ball in the clutch and know I’m going to make the big shot. When the Wolves signed me for about a billion dollars, they thought they were getting a Jordan. What they wound up with was a Pippen, and Pippen never won a championship when he wasn’t riding on Jordan’s cape.

In SLAM, Garnett’s full quote about his willingness to play elsewhere read like this: “If you’re not working towards a championship, then why are we in this? I’m in it to win, man, I’m not in it to be coming back talking about next year. I’m 30. I’ve probably got 4 to 5 years, you know what I’m saying? My clock is ticking, man. I’m almost like a woman who’s trying to get pregnant. My years are limited, so my clock is definitely ticking.”

Before the NBA draft, I wrote that the Timberwolves should trade Garnett. As he ages, his value will decrease and his frustration will grow.

And as long as the Wolves have the current front office in conjunction with Garnett’s huge salary and on-court fire, they will never be good enough to win a title or lousy enough to rebuild with high draft choices. (Assuming they’ll ever keep their draft choices with Kevin McHale in charge.) In retrospect, the deal they should have cut is obvious: Garnett to the Bulls for picks and young players. In one move, the Wolves could have positioned themselves to rebuild.

Now the Wolves can be saved from another season of mediocrity only by Mike James and Randy Foye, because we know exactly what the Wolves will get from Garnett, for better and worse.

So Garnett was right, and wrong.

Yes, the Timberwolves are a mess. No, Garnett should not be allowed to so cavalierly absolve himself.