A tale of 3 Kevins

20 12 2008

Has there been a more stupid executive in the NBA in the last decade or so than Kevin McHale?

I loved the Minnesota Timberwolves. They were the team that I first connected to when I started to seriously follow the NBA. I’m ashamed to say that one of the main reasons was the logo and name (I went through a phase when I loved anything to do with wolves) but I also loved Kevin Garnett. Even as a rookie he swiftly became one of my favourites.

With Tom Gugliotta and Stephon Marbury the Timberwolves looked set to dominate the NBA for a decade but then Starbury fled and it all fell rather flat. McHale did manage to obtain Terrell Brandon to soften the blow of Starbury’s disappearance but the Timberwolves were no longer a team on the rise.

With KG the T-wolves were always competitive but McHale’s ineptitude meant he was never surrounded by the quality supporting talent needed to be a contender. It was exacerbated with the dreadful Joe Smith saga where they illegally tried to sign him only to be revealed and lose several years worth of draft picks. It wasn’t till they acquired Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell, two quality All Star level talents that the Timberwolves blossomed. It proved that if you put the right players around him, Garnett could carry the team deep into the playoffs.

Then it all kinda fell apart. The team failed to make the playoffs for the next couple of years and finally KG was traded to the Celtics where he promptly won a championship. Well done Kevin McHale! You built a champion but for the wrong team. Doh!

The case against McHale gets more damning when you consider his lottery picks. He lucked out with KG, he will be in the Hall of Fame but he has had little other success.

In 2006 they traded #6 pick Brandon Roy for #7 pick Randy Foye. Foye has been a solid NBA player but I doubt whether he will ever be a star. He’s a tweener, neither point nor shooting guard while Roy is now an All Star and the centrepiece of the upstart Portland Trail Blazers.

Last year they drafted Corey Brewer when players like Al Thornton, Thaddeus Young, Rodney Stuckey, Rudy Fernandez and Carl Landry were still available. All of those players would have been better fits.

The true travesty was in this year’s draft where they drafted rising superstar OJ Mayo and traded him to the Memphis Grizzlies for Kevin Love. I wrote at the time:

Word of advice don’t trade away an athletic potential superstar for a big white stiff, just not a good idea 

and I guess I have never written more prophetic words. OJ Mayo currently heads David Thorpe’s Rookie Rankings while Love is languishing at #11. I’ll be delighted if Love proves me wrong but I doubt it.

McHale’s stewardship has been a tragedy. Can you imagine if Roy was playing alongside Garnett? The two of them would most probably have the Timberwolves back in the playoff hunt. Of course then McHale would undoubtedly have stuffed the whole thing up.

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