Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett said he was anticipating a trade the Lakers when he was a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2007, but the feud between Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson made him think twice about going to Los Angeles.
“What disturbed me about the whole Lakers situation was just Kobe and Phil at the time,” Garnett told Dan Patrick. “They were at each other pretty bad, and a new situation full of uncertainty wasn’t something that I wanted to get into.”
Garnett instead was traded to the Boston Celtics, who won the 2008 NBA championship, coincidentally against the Lakers. Garnett helped Boston reach the NBA Finals again in 2010, this time also against the Lakers, but Los Angeles prevailed in an exciting 7-game series.
However, according to Kelly Dwyer (@KDonHoops) Garnett wasn’t fully in control of his future NBA team. “Having an issue with the KG-to-LA thing. He didn’t have a no-trade clause in 2007. And he wasn’t a free agent. What, again, was his call?”
The Timberwolves could have shipped Garnett to whatever team they wanted to, so is it fair to say Garnett could have landed in L.A. if Kobe and Jackson weren’t fighting? Yes, Garnett could have swayed the Minnesota front office with his opinion, but at the end of the day the team would have made the trade that benefited them the best.
One area where Garnett did hold some leverage was his willingness to sign an extension with whatever team acquired him. Many teams were wary of trading away some of their top young players without the guarantee that Garnett would stick around for an extended stay. Garnett’s decision not to sign an extension with the Lakers certainly could have influenced Los Angeles’ decision to trade for him.