So they finally did it, huh?
The Minnesota Timberwolves traded Kevin Garnett. It couldn't have come at a better time, either. The NBA desperately needed something of this magnitude to help shake off the sting of the Tim Donaghy scandal. It won't erase it, but it will certainly get people talking about something other than Donaghy for a change.
When we have a blockbuster like this, the fantasy effects are widespread. Two teams have just drastically altered their personnel, so without further ado, let's break it down, fantasy-style.
The Wolves have just entered rebuilding mode, there's no doubt about that. They just brought in a lot of nice, young players, but most of those players will need to see some of the court in order to cash in on their immense potential. I'm looking at a team that will probably need to spread out their minutes in order to evaluate talent for the future.
It's pretty safe to say that Jefferson and Randy Foye are the guys they want to build their franchise around, and that means both will see heavy minutes this season. Needless to say, I'm expecting big things from the duo. As I've said many times before, good players on bad teams are fantasy gold. Jefferson, in particular, is going to have a monster season. He'll play with a major chip on his shoulder, because he hoped to be Boston's rock in the middle for years to come. Remember when he said that Boston didn't need a center when it looked like they might get a shot at Greg Oden? Yeah, he'll be a man on a mission, and that's exactly the kind of guy we want on our fantasy squad.
As for the rest of the Wolves, a lot remains to be seen. I can't see them trying to build around Ricky Davis or Mark Blount, so while this deal looks like a major win for Davis and Blount on the surface, I could easily see another trade on the horizon. And if they don't deal either, there's no guarantee the Wolves won't limit their minutes in order to make room for their plethora of young guns. Green, Gomes, Corey Brewer, Rashad McCants and Craig Smith will all need to see the court somehow, and that makes the two veterans expendable. Unfortunately, we are going to have to wait until training camp starts to sort all of this out.
The two most interesting preseason battles will be Brewer versus Green (somewhat similar players) and Smith versus Gomes (even more similar). All four could have some value, but I'm afraid the upside is somewhat limited for this season because the minutes are likely to be spread out among them.
Incoming player: Kevin Garnett
Outgoing players: Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, Ryan Gomes, Theo Ratliff and Sebastian Telfair.
Barring any future moves, the Celtics' starting lineup should look something like this:
So, basically, we're looking at another big three, right? It's hard to say exactly how the ball will be distributed among Allen, Pierce and KG, but I'm not worried about any of their fantasy prospects. Statistically speaking, they can coexist, just like Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison in Washington, or Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker in San Antonio.
Unfortunately, the three-superstar setup isn't very fantasy-friendly to the "other" players on the team. Think about it: When was the last time you had a Spur not named Duncan, Ginobili or Parker on your roster? The same can be said for the Wizards, although I'm sure some of you unwillingly grabbed DeShawn Stevenson, Brendan Haywood or Etan Thomas at some point during their big three reign.
I know what you're thinking: The Suns buck the trend, right? They have Steve Nash, Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire, but are still able to produce solid fantasy players such as Leandro Barbosa, Raja Bell and Boris Diaw. The Suns, however, are an entirely different beast. It's like comparing apples to oranges, because their up-and-down style of play is fantasy-friendly to all. The Celtics won't be as friendly to the role players unless injury strikes. That said, Rondo should still be considered a fantasy sleeper.
Rondo, however, will have to grow up in a hurry. You can bet that the Boston faithful will expect a championship from this group, and they probably only have a window of three or four years, max, to get it done with their aging yet still dominant superstars. I'm not sure if Rondo is completely ready for the challenge, maybe in a year or two, and I expect to see some inconsistency from the youngster. In some ways I feel like Garnett's presence might hurt Rondo's assists, because KG is such a brilliant passer himself. Then again, Rondo can't go wrong in the category with the three pure scorers he has at his disposal. I'll call it a wash for assists. Don't expect him to score much -- not that you would have regardless of the trade -- but do still expect plenty of assists, and of course, steals and turnovers.
One last thing on the Celtics. How's that bench doing right about now? It's virtually nonexistent. Obviously, they'll need to go to work on the free-agent market for some vets, especially in the post. Even still, they are going to have to rely heavily on the big three to get things done. Tony Allen is the wild card here. If he can come back healthy, he'll help spell Ray Allen, and could have some nice value if any of the three superstars go down with an injury. Other than Tony Allen, the only way any of the bench players have any sort of fantasy value is if injuries hit the Celtics hard during the season.
Brian McKitish is a fantasy baseball and basketball analyst for TalentedMrRoto.com and ESPN.com. He can be reached at Littlemac@TalentedMrRoto.com