Thursday, October 2, 2003
Deal expected to average $20M per year
ESPN.com news services
MINNEAPOLIS -- All-Star forward Kevin Garnett signed a five-year contract extension with the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, satisfied that several offseason acquisitions have given him a better chance for his first playoff success.
The deal is worth $100 million, ESPN.com's Marc Stein reports. While neither side would discuss terms, Wolves owner Glen Taylor was asked if this was another nine-figure deal.
"Yeah. Yeah. Maybe. I don't know," he said, laughing.
"I'm excited for the fans. I'm excited for the city. I'm
excited!" Garnett said at a news conference at Target Center,
where the Wolves begin the regular season Oct. 29.
That's because Latrell Sprewell, Sam Cassell and Michael Olowokandi, among others, are here. A flurry of summer activity appears to have enhanced Minnesota's roster more than any other club in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.
Only Garnett, Wally Szczerbiak, Troy Hudson and reserve Gary Trent are back from last year's team that was knocked out of the postseason in the first round for the seventh straight time. Garnett will make an NBA-high $28 million this season, the final installment of the record six-year, $126 million deal he signed in Oct. 1, 1997, exactly six years ago.
Owner Glen Taylor's bottom line will take a significant hit this year with a payroll over $70 million, one of the league's highest. It's well above the league's expected luxury-tax threshold of $57 million, and Taylor will be charged next summer for the amount
his payroll exceeds that figure.
"In a day when sometimes people question your commitment ... that was a commitment,'' coach Flip Saunders said.
Taylor was asked what it would take for him to break even this year.
"A miracle," he said, drawing hearty laughter.
Andy Miller, Garnett's agent, and Timberwolves vice president Kevin McHale have been talking on and off for the past two years
about an extension.
Taylor had a contract conversation with Garnett after Minnesota
was eliminated by the Los Angeles Lakers in the playoffs in May,
and the two agreed the team needed an upgrade.
The offseason moves were a big factor in Garnett's decision, but he also admitted he never thought about entering the 2003-04 season without his future secured.
"I never really felt like this was something that couldn't be done," said Garnett.
Both Taylor and Garnett preferred to halt talks if they weren't completed before the regular season to keep Garnett from facing the unending speculation and questions that dogged New Jersey's Jason Kidd last season.
By league rules, Garnett was limited to a five-year extension.
Taylor said the contract includes an option year -- he wouldn't say which one -- that allows another extension to be worked out.
That would ensure Garnett, 27, finishes his career in Minnesota.
"There is no way he wants out of this contract," Taylor said. "There is no way he wants to get traded."
If Garnett had not signed the extension, several teams would have undoubtedly shown interest.
"Part of that goes through your mind," Garnett said, "but at
the end of the day, man, I'm a Timberwolf. I bleed blue and green.
That's in my veins."
Garnett grew up in South Carolina and was drafted by the Wolves
with the fifth overall pick in 1995 after playing one season at
Farragut Academy in Chicago. He set career highs last year by
averaging 23.0 points, 13.4 rebounds and 6.0 assists in 40.5
It was his fourth straight 20-point, 10-rebound, 5-assist season. Larry Bird is the only other player to do that.
"He makes my job coaching easier," said Saunders, who has coached every game of Garnett's career.
If Garnett did choose to enter the free agent market next summer, several teams would have undoubtedly shown interest.
"Part of that goes through your mind," Garnett said, "but at the end of the day, man, I'm a Timberwolf. I bleed blue and green.
That's in my veins."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.