BOSTON - Kevin Garnett gives Boston a new Big Three that brings the Celtics much closer to what their old Big Three delivered — an NBA title.
The Celtics, who have 16 championships but have gone without one for more than two decades, obtained the former MVP and 10-time All-Star on Tuesday in a 7-for-1 deal — the NBA’s biggest trade for one player.
Boston sent the Minnesota Timberwolves forwards Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes and Gerald Green, guard Sebastian Telfair and center Theo Ratliff, two first-round draft picks and cash considerations. Besides Ratliff, 34, the other four are 24 or younger.
With Paul Pierce and Ray Allen already on the roster, the Celtics have been transformed from a promising collection of youngsters who had the NBA’s second-worst record last season into an instant contender in the mediocre Eastern Conference.
“This is probably my best opportunity at winning a ring,” Garnett said. “It was a no-brainer.”
The Celtics won their last championship, the third with the original Big Three of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, in 1986. Two members of that club orchestrated Tuesday’s blockbuster trade — Celtics executive director of basketball operations Danny Ainge and Timberwolves vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale.
But Ainge cautioned that it’s much too early to equate the two trios.
“These guys will never be the Big Three until they win” a championship, he said.
Garnett signed a multi-year extension — Ainge wouldn’t say how long. He had one year plus an option year remaining on his contract.
The Timberwolves get the Celtics’ first-round pick in 2009, unless it is among the top three, and a return of Minnesota’s conditional first-round draft pick obtained in January 2006 when they sent Ricky Davis to the Timberwolves for Wally Szczerbiak.
The previous biggest NBA trade for one player came in 1999, when Houston obtained Scottie Pippen from Portland for six players.
The Garnett trade eclipses the latest one involving an NBA star, Allen Iverson. Philadelphia traded the guard and Ivan McFarlin to Denver last Dec. 19 for Andre Miller, Joe Smith and two first-round draft choices.
“This is a tremendous day,” said a smiling Pierce, who had been frustrated for years as the sole star on a rebuilding team. “I feel like a rookie again.”
The key to the deal for Minnesota is Jefferson, whom the Celtics were reluctant to part with. He had a breakout season in 2006-07, his third with Boston, when he averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds after struggling with injuries. He joins a youth movement in Minnesota, which drafted forward Corey Brewer from Florida.
“The past few seasons our on-court performance has been disappointing to our fans, myself, (owner) Glen Taylor and the entire organization,” McHale said. “Through this trade, we have obtained very talented, young players with a lot of potential, future flexibility with the salary cap and two future first-round NBA draft picks.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
“Personally, I want to thank Kevin for all of his hard work through the years and what he has meant to the Timberwolves franchise.”
The teams had discussed a trade for the 6-foot-11 Garnett, the NBA’s leading rebounder each of the past four seasons, before the June draft. But he preferred other teams than Boston, and the Celtics didn’t want to give up Jefferson.
The acquisition of Allen, 32, in a draft-day trade with Seattle to go with Pierce, 29, was a major factor in changing Garnett’s mind. It gave Garnett, 31, a better chance at a title after Minnesota missed the last three playoffs in the tough Western Conference.
He also realized that he didn’t fit in with Minnesota’s strategy of rebuilding with youth and was amazed at all the activity to finalize the trade.
“It’s like being in a Lamborghini doing 200 (mph) with your head stuck out the window,” Garnett said. “It’s been like a whirlwind the last 72 hours.”
The Celtics’ other starters are second-year point guard Rajon Rondo and center Kendrick Perkins. Only nine players are under contract, although they are expected to sign second-round draft picks Glen Davis, a forward from LSU, and Gabe Pruitt, a guard from Southern California.
PBT: Pacers coach Frank Vogel said that the Heat have a more effective plan of attack against Roy Hibbert than the Knicks.
Y! Sports: For Roy Hibbert, a sense of ownership means knowing he should have fought to get in the game with two seconds remaining in overtime, when his absence allowed LeBron James to hit the winning lay-up.
Video: NBA from NBC Sports
DPS: Is it really all about the rings?
DPS: Dan Patrick talks about Phil Jackson's comments about starting a team with Bill Russell now because of his championships and brings up the great question of, if it's all about championships, how come we don't talk about guys like Sam Jones, Frank Ramsey or John Havlicek who all have multiple rings?
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