Kevin Garnett would love to play for Phoenix. The Suns, desperate for that elusive NBA championship, are interested in bringing Garnett to town.
Two NBA sources confirmed that Phoenix and Minnesota have already had cursory conversations about what it might take to make a deal happen.
So what are the chances? While you won’t hear the “zero” probability rating Phoenix officials tossed around at the notion of Kobe Bryant becoming a Sun, the chances of Garnett coming to Arizona aren’t realistically much better.
The prospect picked up some steam Thursday when ESPN.com reported Garnett told the Celtics he wasn’t amiable to a trade to Boston, and he hoped a deal could be worked out with the Suns if he had to leave Minnesota.
While the T-Wolves aren’t asking the Suns for the Grand Canyon, sources confirm they do want 24-year-old, All-NBA center Amaré Stoudemire in any deal for the 31-year-old Garnett.
The Suns might be willing to part with Shawn Marion in a possible Garnett deal, but sources say the Timberwolves aren’t interested. A three-way deal could be swung, but while the Celtics like Marion, sources say Marion — who will be looking for a contract extension as soon as this summer — doesn’t want to go to Boston. Marion has an opt-out clause in his contract he can use after next season.
The other problem is money. Garnett, the NBA’s highest-paid player last year, makes $22 million and $24 million in the final two years of his contract (he can also opt out after next season). Sources say he also has an additional $3.3 million trade kicker, which would be due next season, meaning he counts $25.3 million against the salary cap.
The Suns are already $8 million to $9 million over the NBA luxury tax with their current roster. Phoenix was expected to shop center Kurt Thomas (he would have an expiring contract if he exercises his $8.1 million player option for 2007-08) in an attempt to shave that figure down.
But any Garnett deal would likely require Thomas and draft picks in addition to either Marion ($16.44 million next year) or Stoudemire, who is due $13.26 million in the second year of a five-year deal he signed in 2005.
Phoenix has the 24th and 29th overall picks in next week’s draft, but ESPN.com reported Minnesota would likely want Atlanta’s first-round pick in 2008 — now fully unprotected — the Suns obtained in the Joe Johnson trade.