Give up this year's pick to keep Garnett?

By Stephen Litel

Timberwolves fans are split on the issue of fighting for a playoff berth or losing to secure a better draft pick. In a worst-case scenario, the Wolves win just enough to miss out on the playoffs AND lose their draft pick to the Los Angeles Clippers, which makes the situation even more divisive. With the 2007 Draft class expected to be the deepest in years, Minnesota would have many options there to continue to build a solid core of young players.

Count me in as one believing that continuing to fight for a playoff berth is the right move. Although I do not believe that Minnesota will be able to win enough to eventually grab that last playoff spot, they are doing exactly as they should be. As a believer in the Wolves young trio of Randy Foye, Rashad McCants and Craig Smith, Minnesota already has a nice core of talent for the future. Eventually, the first round pick owed to the Clippers from the Sam Cassell-Marko Jaric trade has to be paid and this may be the time to do it.

The summer of 2007 will be the most important off-season in the history of the Minnesota Timberwolves franchise. Rumors of an unhappy Kevin Garnett come daily, fueling the speculation that he will finally demand to be traded. Countless mistakes have occurred during Garnett's tenure with the Timberwolves, yet his loyalty to this franchise is staggering. Garnett does not want to leave Minnesota. Watching him up close and speaking with him on occasion have led me to believe that he truly does like the majority of his teammates and the direction the team is headed after years of questionable moves. Continuing to battle for the playoffs late into the season is key to Garnett staying put.

This is why last night's loss to Seattle stings. During the post-game coverage, Tom Hanneman and Jim Peterson were dead-on when they called this game a "must win" for Minnesota to return to the playoffs. Now three and a half games behind the Los Angeles Clippers and holding the tiebreaker with 14 games remaining, the chances are slim at best. Yet this team needs to continue to battle and continue to build for next season to show Garnett there is reason to stick around.

Losing the draft pick this summer to the Clippers may be disappointing, but Minnesota's young core of players have all shown flashes of high-level play. And if giving up that pick keeps Garnett in Minnesota, I'm all for it. If things continue to go south after losing the pick and Garnett is traded, at least one high pick will return to Minnesota, if not two.

Continue to fight and see what happens.

Stephen A. Litel [email protected]

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