In one of the NBA’s most memorable trade deadlines in recent history, the Brooklyn Nets made only one move, swapping Kevin Garnett with the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Thaddeus Young. How much value did each team get out of this deal?
The Nets and Timberwolves have agreed to swap Garnett and Young straight-up, no other players or picks involved. Garnett is now set to end his legendary career right where it started, and the Nets have added a player to their roster that can help them win now. Which team fared better in this trade?
The Nets turned a player who would not be returning next season into a player who fills the same role on the court, only twelve years younger. Thaddeus Young, while also playing small forward on occasion, is a natural fit at power forward.
Basically when this season is over, the Timberwolves will have no tangible remains of this trade and the Nets will still have Young. Young has an early termination option for next year, which he is not expected to exercise.
If he remains on the Nets as expected, he will be due just under $10 million. This price tag is a little high for a player of Young’s caliber, and if combined with the current Nets stars’ contracts could create a tight financial situation next year. The Nets ideally would’ve acquired a cheaper player or draft pick for Garnett, but it’s unlikely he would’ve waived his no-trade clause to go anywhere else.
Young’s production on the court is the Nets biggest gain from this trade. His numbers stack up very well and often exceed Garnett’s:
- Garnett (42 Games): 6.8 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.6 APG, 0.3 BPG (14.90 PER) in 20.3 minutes per game
- Young (48 Games): 14.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 2.8 APG, 0.4 BPG (14.92 PER) in 33.4 minutes per game
While Garnett’s output may be closer to Young’s if he was also playing 33 minutes per game, the fact of the matter is he can’t. Garnett’s age limits his time on the court, and this restriction will not exist for the Nets with Young.
What the Nets will lose in rebounding they will gain in offensive production and a slight bump in assist numbers. Young will likely start for the Nets, as they implement a front court rotation also highlighted by Mason Plumlee and Brook Lopez, retaining the Nets strength of three quality big men.
The Nets didn’t alter their franchise trajectory with this trade, but a added a solid player while giving up a veteran playing in his final games. Young should help the Nets push for a playoff berth this season, as well as help they continue to grow next season.
The Timberwolves big draw in this trade is bringing back a franchise legend, as well as freeing up cap space for next year. Garnett spent the first twelve years of his career in a Timberwolves uniform, and its only fitting he ends his career with the same team. Garnett has expressed interest in managing and owning the Timberwolves in the future, and this trade will definitely give him a boost into learning how the franchise has changed in his absence.
This trade also works for Minnesota as it frees up playing time for younger players. Giving up only a little production, the Timberwolves gain about 13 more minutes of playing time to dole out to developing players. By no means was this a trade with an intention to tank, but with young players continuing to learn and grow the Timberwolves can expect losses to continue to pour in the rest of the season.
The Timberwolves also have Young’s potential $9.9 million cap hit next year off their books. With Ricky Rubio’s huge extension set to kick in, as his salary jumps from $5 million to $12 million, this definitely helps with future roster flexibility.
However, one of the selling points for the Nets is the weakest link for the Timberwolves. Yes, fans will love to see Garnett back and its a great story that will undoubtedly also bring in ticket and jersey sales. But when the season ends for the Timberwolves in mid-April, they will be left with no lasting returns from this trade.
Thaddeus Young is certainly no franchise centerpiece, but he’s worth something for his production at power forward. The Nets will be enjoying Young’s services next year, while the Timberwolves will only gain Garnett for a few short months.
All in all, this is not a bad deal for the Timberwolves. They acquired the former face of their franchise, cleared cap space, and freed up playing time. It’s just hard to sell as a great trade as the Timberwolves will likely be searching for a starting power forward this summer, as Anthony Bennett has still not lived up to his number one draft pick status.