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Garnett deal in place

Posted by Shira Springer, Globe Staff  July 30, 2007 06:40 PM

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The Celtics and Timberwolves have agreed on the players to make a Kevin Garnett-to-Boston trade but no deal can be completed until issues with Garnett's contract can be worked out.

As the trade currently stands, Boston will send Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, Theo Ratliff, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair and two first-round picks to Minnesota in exchange for Garnett.

League sources said that the reworking of Garnett's contract could still be a sticking point. Among the issues still to negotiate are the player option worth $24 million that Garnett holds for the 2008-09 season as well as a 15 percent trade kicker which must be paid in real cash at the time of the deal.

According to multiple league sources, Garnett must agree to waive a portion of the trade kicker worth approximately $6.75 million. If Garnett agrees to that contingency, then he would have some additional leverage as the Celtics attempt to restructure his current contract. Slowing down the trade/approval process is the fact that Garnett is on a cruise until the end of this week.

When trade talks between Minnesota and Boston took place before this year’s draft, the option plus Garnett’s hesitancy to play in Boston, as relayed through his agent Andy Miller, were considerable sticking points. The Celtics did not want to part with Jefferson and his long-term potential if Garnett would stay in Boston for just one season. If Garnett agrees to take his player option as a condition of the trade, the Celtics also will likely look to come to reasonable terms on an extension as another condition of the deal.

“There are serious discussions in place,” said Miller this morning.

When asked about the option as well as Garnett’s willingness to play in Boston, Miller added: “Part of the discussion that is taking place is addressing those issues as well as others to see if the destination makes sense for all parties. Everything is part of the overall picture as to how to bring this to a conclusion or go in a different direction.”

Not to be overlooked, the deal would leave Boston in a position where it would need to fill four roster spots to reach the minimum allowable 12 players. The Celtics still have not signed second-round picks Gabe Pruitt and Glen Davis.

Garnett, 31, has spent all of his 12 NBA seasons with Minnesota. He would get an extension of his contract, which has one year plus an option year remaining, the official said.

The Celtics had tried to get Garnett late last month, but his agent said he didn't want to go to Boston.

Since then, Boston acquired seven-time All-Star guard Ray Allen from Seattle in a draft day deal. Already with Paul Pierce, the Celtics would become instant contenders in the mediocre Atlantic Division with Garnett, even without promising forward Jefferson.

The Celtics obtained Allen and the 35th pick of the draft for guards Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak, and forward Jeff Green of Georgetown, whom they drafted with the fifth pick.

The Celtics have won just three playoff series during Pierce's nine years with them. They still have an NBA-record 16 championships, but none since 1986.

"They have no excuses, this team out there," Danny Ainge, the executive director of basketball operations, said after Allen was acquired.

Pierce, 29, led the Celtics in scoring last season but played only 47 games because of injury.

Allen, who turns 32 next month, averaged a career-high 26.4 points last season, his 11th, but underwent surgery to remove bone spurs on both ankles that required him to wear protective boots. He is expected to be ready for training camp.

A long, lean 6-foot-11 forward who's actually at least 2 inches taller than his listed height, Garnett's athleticism has allowed him to play all over the court -- banging against bodies in the post, swatting away shots in the lane, running the fast break, shooting top-of-the-key jumpers and even playing point guard every once in a while.

A preps-to-the-pros pioneer, Garnett's immediate impact after being selected fifth overall in 1995 by the Timberwolves paved a path for dozens and dozens of other teenagers to skip college and declare for the draft -- most of whom enjoyed far less success.

Then in October 1997, Garnett's contract changed the game -- a six-year, $126 million extension that led to significant alterations to the league's collective bargaining agreement emerging from a 1999 lockout.

Garnett forever changed the franchise in Minnesota, too. The year before he was drafted, the Wolves set an NBA mark for futility with their fourth straight 60-loss season. In just his second season, he helped lead Minnesota to its first playoff appearance -- the first of eight straight.

The last of those was the best, when the "Big Ticket" was at his peak. He won the league's MVP award and led the Wolves within two wins of the NBA finals in 2004. Garnett averaged 24.2 points and a league-high 13.9 rebounds that season, joining Larry Bird as the only players to average at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for five consecutive years.

But those idyllic days quickly ended for the Wolves, who have fired two coaches and not made the playoffs since then. Part of their problem has been Garnett's huge salary, but vice president Kevin McHale has also missed on several moves. Though he never requested a trade or said he was unhappy in Minnesota, Garnett expressed frustration with some of McHale's decisions and challenged McHale to upgrade the roster.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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