Two weeks ago, Celtics forward Kevin Garnett went on the Dan Patrick show and told Dan that he came close to joining the Lakers back in 2007. Of course, he would go on to sign with Boston, apparently wanting to get around the drama that was centered on Kobe Bryant and then-Lakers coach Phil Jackson.
The Lakers reportedly offered both Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum to the Timberwolves, and would have also acquired either Troy Hudson or Marko Jaric alongside Garnett.
Kevin McHale, the former Timberwolves vice president of basketball operations, did not like the deal.
It didn’t matter. No deal was made. Garnett wound up with the Celtics and left Laker fans wondering what might have been.
That didn’t mean that the Lakers would come up empty-handed. As all Laker fans know, the Garnett deal set things up for the Lakers to acquire Pau Gasol.
All Pau has done for the Lakers is guide them to two straight championships and three consecutive NBA Finals appearances. The Lakers were outplayed by the Mavericks this season, but were on the wrong end of a few momentum-changing moments. Erase those moments and we might be adding an additional Finals appearance and possibly championship.
And Garnett with the Celtics?
They have won one championship and made two Finals appearances in four years.
The stats seem about right given that Garnett is 34 years old and well past his prime. As a Celtic, he has never played in more than 71 games. His averages have taken a cut as well. Garnett averaged at least 21 points in his final eight seasons with the Timberwolves. His arrival in Boston saw his average drop down to 18 points a game before finally falling to 14 points over the last two seasons.
Meanwhile, Pau has remained right on par despite going from being the primary focus of the Grizzlies’ offense to being a secondary option with the Lakers. Pau has averaged 18.7 points since his arrival in Los Angeles. That is just 0.2 points below his career average.
Why are we doubting Pau though? Because of his lackluster playoffs.
Think about it this way; if we sent Pau back to Memphis and acquired Garnett, we possibly would hear news of Pau to the Celtics.
Suddenly, the Lakers’ defensive presence vanishes. Garnett has averaged just 0.2 blocks less than Gasol over the course of their careers. However, with their new teams, Pau has out-blocked Garnett by a wide margin of 422 to 271.
I said earlier that Pau had played more than K.G. has, right? Right. However, taking the averages out of that stat further prove just how superior Pau has been. Gasol is averaging 1.4 blocks since arriving in Los Angeles versus Garnett’s 1.0 blocks since arriving in Boston.
The last stat to compare these two is a stat where Garnett was a monster; rebounding. Garnett out-rebounds Gasol by nearly two rebounds over the course of their careers (10.7 to 9.1). However, can you believe that Garnett’s production has hit that big of a spike to the point where Pau now has him beat by a rebound and a half (9.9 to 8.5).
This “drama” that Garnett avoided might have cost the Lakers a ring in 2008, but it also cost Garnett two rings and possibly a third.
But we can add that to the list of things that could have been, might have been, but never were.
The Lakers got the right man. Should he continue to dominate the way he has in the European championships, Pau will most definitely be a force for the Lakers and instantly place them amongst the favorites next season for an NBA title.
Meanwhile, the Celtics just keep getting older. Will they be able to run with the likes of the Bulls and the Heat? Not with that current core.