What if Kevin Garnett got traded to the Lakers, not the Celtics?

In 2007 the Minnesota Timberwolves were stuck in mediocrity despite having one of the best players in the league. Having failed to reach the playoffs and with little hope of improving the roster around their star, Kevin Garnett was on the trade block. What many people don’t remember is that the Lakers and Wolves had a hand shake agreement to land the all star big. The reported deal was Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom and draft picks for KG. However the Wolves broke the handshake agreement.

Adding insult to injury, they shipped Garnett to Boston, the Lakers long time rival. There was a lot of discussion of foul play surrounding the deal. Wolves GM and Celtic legend Kevin McHale who pulled the trigger on the trade admitted his relationship with former teammate and Celtic’s GM Danny Ainge was a factor.

But what if Minnesota kept their word on their handshake agreement with Lakers owner Jerry Buss? Do the Celtics ever reach championship levels? How many championships do close friends Kobe and Garnett win together? What about Pau Gasol?

2007-08 NBA Season

Kevin Garnett joins a lakers team of Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Trevor Ariza, Kwame Brown, Luke Walton, Chris Mihm, D.J. Mbenga, Sasha, Jordan Farmar and Vladimir Radmanovic. Not exactly the prototypical NBA champion roster as they are thin after the two stars.

Nonetheless, Kobe and Garnett lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a top 3 seed in the Western Conference. Garnett wins Defensive Player of the year as Kobe wins his first league MVP after years of coming up just short. Despite the duo, the Lakers are going to fall short of their championship aspirations. The San Antonio Spurs are just too deep of a roster to overcome.

2008-09 NBA Season

After an offseason of rehabbing injuries and becoming more acclimated to each other, the Lakers are in a better position to capture a championship.

Finally healthy, Ariza joins Kobe and Garnett in the starting rotation, making the Lakers home to the best defensive unit in the league. Arguably the best defensive units the league has seen since the Chicago Bulls of the 90’s.

The Lakers role out a lineup of Fisher-Kobe-Ariza-Garnett-Marc Gasol.

How did the Lakers get Marc Gasol you ask? Well he was the draft pick the Lakers used to trade for his brother Pau Gasol in real life. With Garnett in Los Angeles, that Pau trade never happens and the Lakers still end up with a Gasol brother.

The bench of Jordan Farmar, Shannon Brown and Sasha Vujacic are all more experienced and ready for the grind of a championship run.

The Lakers finish the season with the leagues best record the Lakers have their eyes set on the Larry O’Brien trophy.

The 60 win Lakers team runs through the Western Conference playoffs with their only threat being the Carmelo led Denver Nuggets. Kobe and Garnett lead the lakers past the Nuggets in 6 games.

2009 NBA Finals: Magic-Lakers

The Lakers ran through the Magic in 5 games in the 2009 NBA finals with Pau Gasol, so were going to assume things would be the same here with Garnett.

Kobe wins his first Finals MVP and Garnett gets his first taste at championship gold.

2009-10 NBA Season

Despite coming off of a NBA championship, the Lakers let Ariza walk in free agency. But they bring in his replacement in Ron Artest. Artest takes the toughest defensive assignment each night, giving Kobe less work to do on that side of the ball. Second year big man Marc Gasol begins to show signs of growth, securing the paint alongside Garnett, and finding his touch on the offensive end. The Lakers once again have the leagues best defense, and finish with the best record.

The playoffs would be a tougher run this time around with the unexpected rise of the Thunder and always potent Spurs and Mavs teams. But the Lakers would prevail and represent the Western Conference in the finals for the second consecutive year. But who would their opponent be? Do we get a boring rematch with Orlando or do we get what every NBA fan desired to see: a Kobe-Lebron series?

2010 NBA Finals: Cavs-Lakers, LeBron-Kobe

Without Garnett in Boston, the Celtics can’t contain the force that is Lebron James. This allows the long awaited finals series between Kobe and Lebron James. Lebron James would have his way, even against top defensive unit in the league. He’s just that good. He and Kobe would go basket for basket, putting on a show for NBA fans to marvel over. But in the end James’ Cavs don’t have the fire power and talent to matchup with the Lakers. Kobe goes on to win back to back Finals MVP’s.

2010-11 NBA Season

Knowing their time would be short, there would be a great urgency on the Lakers to capture one more ring with this core. Fisher, Kobe, Artest and KG would be part of the oldest rotation in the league. Their old age and injuries would affect them and this year would be a struggle.

With Oklahoma City being young and dangerous, the Spurs balanced with youth and experience and Dallas determined to break through, the Lakers would have to face the gauntlet to three peat.

The Thunder team isn’t ready to overcome the Lakers strength in experience just yet. The Spurs mix of veterans and youth is impressive but the youth isn’t at the level of the vert’s just yet.

This sets up a Lakers, Mavs Conference Finals. For those who remember the 2011 Mavs, they ran the gauntlet to win the NBA Finals, including sweeping the Kobe and Pau led Lakers. So would things be different with Garnett and Marc in the front court, opposed to Pau and Andrew Bynum?

I think the answer is yes as Garnett who is a much better defender than Pau, and same for Marc over Bynum, would have made it very difficult for Dirk to dominate like he did. The Dallas depth of Jason Terry, Shawn Marion and JJ Barea would have made it tough to handle, but knowing this is like their last title run, I think Kobe and KG rise to the occasion. Their toughest assignment yet awaits them in the NBA Finals.

2011 NBA Finals: Heat-Lakers

LeBron gets his finals rematch against Kobe and KG, but with some reinforcements. Lebron, Wade and Bosh are as formidable of a foe these Lakers have ever faced, and it shows. It is a long series, with ups and downs for both teams, But the demons that weighed over LeBron in the real 2011 finals against the Mavs, are here in this series. Failing to meet the standards and not rising to the occasion, the Heat lose to the Lakers in 6 games.

This is the end of that successful run as the Lakers three peat. Kobe reaches the most desired 6th ring, and Garnett cements his name amongst Lakers great big men.

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