Kevin Garnett Nearly Joined the ‘We Believe’ Warriors Instead of the Celtics

Kevin Garnett is sort of like the cherry on top of the Boston Celtics‘ “Big Three” sundae. Only, he very nearly ended up with the Golden State Warriors.

After years of painstaking playoff defeats and bitter feuds with Minnesota Timberwolves ownership (that animosity remains to this day), Garnett headed to Beantown. He immediately formed a fantastic trio with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.

However, Garnett might have been part of the “We Believe” era in the Bay Area.

Kevin Garnett won a championship with the 2007-08 Boston Celtics

With a disgruntled Paul Pierce looking for a way out and the Celtics desperate to make a big move, they searched for the golden ticket. Or, rather, the Big Ticket.

Boston acquired Kevin Garnett from the Minnesota Timberwolves, giving up five players and a pair of first-round picks to get KG. The addition of the All-NBA power forward gave the Celtics a trinity resembling that of their three-leaf clover symbol following the early acquisition of Ray Allen.

Garnett played an enormous role in Boston’s success. He averaged 18.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 3.4 assists while setting the tone with his defense and winning Defensive Player of the Year honors in the process.

The Big Ticket elevated his play in the postseason, averaging 20.4 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 3.3 assists. He posted a team-best defensive rating of 99 in the NBA Finals as the Celtics captured their first title in 22 years.

Boston likely doesn’t win the title without Garnett’s two-way presence. Interestingly, the Celtics almost missed out on KG.

The Warriors made a big push for Garnett

Although the 2007-08 Celtics were the best team in basketball, the Golden State Warriors were arguably the most exciting.

The Warriors shocked the world in the 2007 playoffs, defeating the No. 1-seeded Dallas Mavericks in arguably the greatest upside in NBA history. With a superb scoring backcourt of Baron Davis and Monta Ellis and tough wing players like Stephen Jackson, Al Harrington, and Matt Barnes, the Dubs electrified crowds and inspired a “We Believe” era in the Bay Area.

Garnett nearly became the staple of that movement.

Barnes revealed that Golden State tried to acquire KG in the summer of 2007 during an appearance on the Draymond Green Show. He claimed the Warriors wanted to offer a package of Jason Richardson and a first-round pick in exchange for the Big Ticket.

That deal never happened. The Celtics’ Godfather offer proved too much for the T-wolves to pass up. But what if Garnett made the journey to the West Coast?

Would The Big Ticket have validated the Warriors’ championship aspirations?

Former Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett battles for a rebound during a game against the Golden State Warriors
Former Boston Celtics power forward Kevin Garnett pulls down a defensive rebound in a game against the Golden State Warriors | Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The 2007-08 Warriors missed the playoffs, but it’s easy to forget they were actually better than the team most remembered as the “We Believe” squad.

Golden State won 48 games, six more than in the 2006-07 season. The Dubs ranked first in points per game and fourth in offensive rating. So, why didn’t they make the playoffs? Slippage on the defensive end. The Warriors gave up the most points per game in 07-08, ranking 23rd in defensive rating.

Thus, it’s pretty clear to see the impact Garnett might have had, considering he won Defensive Player of the Year with the Celtics that season.

Acquiring Garnett might have allowed the Warriors to deploy Harrington as a versatile sixth man. Or, perhaps KG would replace the less athletic Andris Biedrins in the starting lineup. Either way, his presence in the paint undoubtedly would have improved Golden State’s team defense.

Plus, Garnett perfectly fit the mold of the energy that permeated throughout the Warriors organization at the time. He played with an unbridled spirit and ruthless competitiveness. Perhaps that would have made all the difference.

Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond eventually ushered in a dynastic Warriors era. But it’s worth wondering what might have been if the Big Ticket came to the Bay Area in 2007.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.

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