On Tuesday, the Minnesota Timberwolves formally introduced the five players acquired from the Celtics in the trade that brought Kevin Garnett to Boston last month.
Theo Ratliff, Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, Ryan Gomes, and Sebastian Telfair (who were swapped along with two first-round draft picks for Garnett) showcased their new jerseys (all but Ratliff got a new number), and talked about the desire to win in Minnesota.
“When people say young, they mean we’re supposed to lose,” said Al Jefferson, the fourth-year power forward who was the centerpiece of the trade. “I don’t agree with that at all.”
A report out of Boston when the trade was finalized suggested Jefferson was devastated that day.
“It wasn’t that I took it hard,” he said. “I just had never been traded before. The trade was more of a shock, but now I think it’s a great opportunity for all of us. … It’s a compliment for all of us to be traded for KG, one of the best players in the league. I don’t feel any pressure.”
On Tuesday, Wolves vice president for basketball operations Kevin McHale called the team’s new configuration of youngsters “as talented a group of guys as we’ve had.”I can see this group being together a long time,” said Gomes, a third-year small forward who was a second-round draft pick.
McHale suggested the five newest Timberwolves’ familiarity with each other will help speed a learning process that features so many new pieces.
“If you traded for five guys from different teams, it’d be more disjointed,” McHale said. “They already know people. They already have some friendship.”
Add veterans Ricky Davis and Mark Blount — acquired in last year’s Szczerbiak trade — and McHale has assembled seven players from his former Celtics team that lost 107 games the past two seasons.
“They can play, but can they win?” McHale said as he looked down a podium where his five new players sat. “They will dictate what will happen. They are going to establish who they are and what they are. It’s their team.”
The Star Tribune’s article closed with the following note: “McHale said he has had preliminary discussions with Jefferson’s agent about a contract extension. Jefferson will earn $2.48 million this season.”
The Boston Herald reported Sunday that: “The biggest financial news is that Al Jefferson is reportedly seeking a starting point of $10 million on his next contract, and he wants to be extended now.”