Updated: April 7, 2006, 11:31 AM ET

SPECIAL WEEKEND EDITION Trade isn't the Wolves' Ticket

Editor's note: ESPN.com senior NBA writer Marc Stein supplies each item for this around-the-league notebook edition of the Daily Dime.

Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor has said so for years: He won't consider trading Kevin Garnett unless Garnett asks to be traded.

Garnett, meanwhile, has never demanded a trade and has said for years that he never will.

Add it up and, well, sorry to disappoint everyone waiting for a KG Sweepstakes.

There is already more Garnett trade speculation out there than ever before -- and numerous executives around the league expect the Wolves to receive the most serious KG trade proposals they've ever fielded starting around the June draft, if not sooner -- but the odds are still (very) heavy against KG leaving the icy outpost he likes to call 'Sota.

If next season is like this season and last season, OK. Maybe then Garnett would finally be moved to push for a new, warmer home base.

But it's not going to happen before next season. No matter how much everyone else yaps about it.

Changes are clearly coming for the Wolves, but not at power forward. Team insiders and folks who know Garnett well believe that KG, as perhaps the NBA's foremost creature of habit, doesn't want to leave, and certainly not to force his way to a cauldron like New York City.

Not even after a new streak -- two straight years out of the playoffs -- that's far more painful for Garnett than those seven consecutive first-round exits.

Taylor is said to be just as reluctant. He knows that trading Garnett is the most unpopular move he could ever make, especially since the most appetizing packages out there are likely to feature some combination of quality youth, draft picks and cap-friendly contracts as opposed to players on Garnett's level. The Wolves' billionaire boss has been around the NBA long enough to know that the team parting with the biggest name in such deals -- like Milwaukee with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Philadelphia with Charles Barkley and most recently Shaquille O'Neal with the Lakers -- rarely comes close to replacing the name who left.

Reread Garnett's supposed "blast" of the organization from last weekend and you'll see that he stopped well short of asking for relocation. Taylor, in response, says he doesn't see a KG trade scenario "that makes sense" anyway. I'm told that a much more palatable course for both is trying to overcome Minnesota's lack of coveted trade assets to make one more run at getting Garnett the help he needs.

Look for the Wolves to focus on these three issues as opposed to dangling Da Kid:

1. Resolving Kevin McHale's future.

With Chauncey Billups and Sam Cassell flourishing elsewhere and January's acquisition of Ricky Davis failing to spark a turnaround, McHale's approval rating in Minnesota has never been lower. Yet longtime Wolves-watchers insist that Taylor will never fire his right-hand man. McHale would have to walk away and it's not Garnett's way to push for that, either, no matter how frosty it gets between the Kevins.

2. Resolving coach Dwane Casey's future.

Less-than-glowing sentiments from Taylor have heaped more pressure on Casey, who, to his credit, doesn't deny the gravity of the situation. Even though this is his first season and in spite of a midseason roster shuffle, Casey conceded this week that "everything's fair" in the NBA. Yet when Taylor says he'll be sitting down with the staff at season's end to "evaluate the year and what we thought it should have been," it certainly sounds as though he expected better results after the Boston swap that replaced Wally Szczerbiak and Michael Olowokandi with Davis, Mark Blount and Marcus Banks.

3. Reshuffling the deck again.

The Wolves don't want to part with KG but they are obliged to make an aggressive move or two, if they can, to pump some life back into the most deflated Garnett we've ever seen. Stephon Marbury is widely regarded as the likeliest target, because:

A) Steph and KG already have a workable history.

B) KG is the only top-10 player on the planet whose game would mesh well with a ball-dominating guard. And ...

C) Minnesota can't expect a better talent than Marbury with what it has to offer. Having said all of that, I wonder whether the Wolves really want to pair Steph with KG and Davis ... and also whether Steph, after all these years of losing and frustrating teammates, is a mere shadow of the young gunslinger who used to hawk ESPN The Magazine with KG as a "tastefully done" tandem. Going after role-playing veterans and/or perimeter shooters -- along with the high draft pick they're going to get -- might make more sense if Garnett and Davis start playing to their tag-team potential.

What's clear is that all signs, at present, point away from a Wolves blockbuster.

Unless you're as shocked as me to believe that Da Kid is turning 30 on May 19.

Or that KG sat down with ESPN Radio at the All-Star Game and told my pals Jim Durham and Dr. Jack Ramsay that the two things he hates doing in life are "sleeping and eating."

Re-read that quote and you'll understand why he has my sympathy more than ever now.

• Talk back to ... Marc Stein | The Daily Dime gang

Dimes Past: 25-26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31


Great Wall of Wallace
Gerald Wallace
Chris Birck/Getty Images
Ups and fearlessness have Gerald Wallace blocking tons of shots, putting him in the company of two great centers. (See below.)


Eastern Conference
Alonzo Mourning has a torn calf muscle. Shaquille O'Neal is suddenly dealing with a mysterious knee problem. Even Dwyane Wade, Miami's bedrock in this season of indifference, admits that he's fighting fatigue ... which might be the scariest Heat health bulletin of all.

What I'm about to share with you, then, can't even register as a third-tier priority for Pat Riley's club, which is trying to secure the East's No. 2 seed as quickly as possible to get some rest for its most important players.

Still ...

It's reasonably big news.

Shaq is averaging just 20.1 points per game and has spent most of the month beneath the 20-ppg barrier. We repeat: Miami obviously has more pressing concerns, but it's a significant development because O'Neal, 34, has scored in the 20s in each of his 13 seasons.

If Shaq falls short this season, it will halt the third-longest run of 20-point campaigns (from the start of a player's career) in league history. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did it in his first 17 seasons, Michael Jordan followed with 15 straight and Shaq is tied with Hakeem Olajuwon at No. 3.

Of course, it should be noted that Shaq is also averaging a career-low 30.4 minutes per game, which helps explain why he's scoring and rebounding less -- a career-low 9.2 rpg -- just a year removed from a season that would have won him an MVP trophy if not for Steve Nash.


I realize this might seem like a poor Hollinger imitation, throwing more numbers at you, but Gerald Wallace won't let me change the subject.

From Charlotte, Land O' Gaudy Stat Lines, Wallace scored 41 points in a victory Tuesday night over Atlanta with 17-of-22 shooting.

The gaudiest part? All 17 of Wallace's baskets were either dunks or layups.

But there's more.

NBA historians have to watch Wallace, too, because he's on the verge of something quite rare himself. The five-year vet is trying to become just the third player ever to average more than two blocks and two steals in the same season.

San Antonio's David Robinson did so in 1991-92 (2.32 spg, 4.49 bpg) and Houston's Hakeem Olajuwon managed it in four consecutive seasons, highlighted by the third of those four: 2.12 spg and 4.59 bpg in 1989-90.

Wallace enters the weekend averaging 15.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.49 steals and 2.13 blocks. Not bad for a 6-7 swingman who wound up with the Bobcats via the expansion draft.



Quick.

Name the NBA team most reminiscent of George Mason and its Cinderella run to the Final Four.

Did someone say Knicks?

As long as it's the Knicks of 1999, and not Larry Brown's modern-day abomination, it's a worthy nomination. Those Knicks finished 27-23 in a lockout-shortened season and, as the East's No. 8 seed, advanced to the NBA Finals.

The other obvious contenders?

Houston has two. The Rockets of 1994-95 won a championship as the West's No. 6 seed, winning a Game 7 on the road against Charles Barkley's Suns and then ousting David Robinson's Spurs before sweeping Shaq and Penny Hardaway's Magic in the Finals.

And in 1980-81, though just 40-42 in the regular season, Houston went all the way to the NBA Finals before losing to Larry Bird's Boston Celtics in six games.



Chatter Box
Mavericks

One man's take on Utah's Carlos Boozer, from Dimedom's web of front-office executives, coaches and scouts:

"He looks really good. He looks like this is the first month of the season, which it is for him, but he looks like the bull I used to see in Cleveland.

"He's putting up big numbers [22.3 ppg and 10.0 rpg in the past eight games] and he's got a nice thing going with Okur and Kirilenko. I'd like to coach those three. Kirilenko is such a great two-way player on the wing and Okur and Boozer can play inside and outside. Boozer can't go as far out as Okur can, but he's a good shooter out to about 17 feet.

"I also think all that trade [speculation] about Boozer is giving him some extra juice. You keep hearing that he wants to go to L.A. [to play for the Lakers] and he has to know that he's going to have to play his way there. After missing so much time [with a hamstring injury], he's going to have to play his way into a trade if that's what he wants.

"But if I'm Utah, I'm not so sure I break this thing up. If they would have had this Boozer all year, this is a playoff team."




Hide and Seek?
Kevin Garnett
Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images
It's been an ugly season for the Wolves, but KG may want to uncover his eyes just for a moment so he can read about his future.


Western Conference

The Suns are scoffing at the notion that they rushed Amare Stoudemire back and put his surgically repaired left knee in jeopardy, insisting that Stoudemire's obvious stiffness and discomfort doesn't translate to damage.

At the forefront of the scoffing: Steve Nash.

"I'm not a doctor, obviously, but after listening to our doctors I feel pretty good personally that he couldn't have damaged his knee [by trying to play in three games]," Nash said. "People have a misconception that if Amare totally stopped playing and sat out until training camp [next October], he'd be ready to go.

"That's not how it works. The knee's got to be strengthened and rehabbed and he has to learn how to use it again. You do that by working out and playing and retraining the knee."


The Mavericks' recent call to Latrell Sprewell was just one call they made in the wake of a recent injury plague that robbed them of four rotation regulars: Josh Howard, Devin Harris, Keith Van Horn and Adrian Griffin.

Dallas -- which also expressed interest in Wesley Person earlier this season before deciding to sign Griffin as their Doug Christie replacement -- called "everybody we thought might still be able to play," according to one club insider.

Adding a player, though, was dependent on receiving an injury exception from the league. The Mavs thought they had a case with so many regulars out, but the request was denied.


The Spurs, meanwhile, have capitalized on Dallas' injury woes to take a two-game lead atop the West into Friday's play. Which means winning next Friday's fourth and final meeting in San Antonio (with the Spurs leading the season series, 2-1) is a must for the Mavs ... and even that might not be enough.

It seems more likely that San Antonio, with seven home games left, will produce the 7-3 finish it needs to record the highest win total (63) in franchise history.

Asked if he could remember a closer race than this, clinging to the first two-game lead for either team since San Antonio had one Jan. 6, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said: "It's sort of comical to me that everyone's acting like this is a new deal [for the Spurs and Mavs]. It's been like this every year for the last four years. The only thing different is that little traitor over there coaching for Dallas."

A little joke, yes, about Mavs coach (and Spurs ex) Avery Johnson.



Film Session
Playoff positioning
Marc Stein joins ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard on ESPN2's Cold Pizza to discuss the contrasting playoff outlooks for surging Cleveland and fading Philadelphia.


Question Marc
From the Stein Line e-mailbag:

Dijon B. (Fullerton): Did I read right? Did you really write recently that this year's Cal State Fullerton basketball team -- which WON 16 games -- is the most disappointing Titan team of all time? Aren't you forgetting a few disappointments?

Stein: On this final weekend of the college season, I feel compelled to stray from the NBA norm in this cyberspace and answer you, Deej:

Yes.

You read right.

I'm sure some of my fellow Titan diehards will cite some of the undeniable letdowns in the years after we made our George Mason-esque run to the Elite Eight in the school's only NCAA Tournament appearance in 1978.

But anyone who does is ignoring the fact that the competition was so much tougher throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

In the two decades I've followed Fullerton since my freshman year of college in 1987-88, I can't remember any year before this one in which we were picked to win the conference in preseason magazines like Lindy's and The Sporting News. I can't remember a single Big West media day where the writers and coaches picked Cal State Fullerton to boss the league.

And I certainly can't remember a Sports Illustrated college basketball preview issue, before this season's, which named the Titans as one of the 65 teams bound for the Big Dance.

What happened? These Titans proceeded to go 5-9 in conference play to finish sixth in the Big West. Don't forget, furthermore, that the modern-day Big West isn't exactly reminiscent of the Big West where (as much as it pains me to admit this) my ESPN colleague Greg Anthony was playing point guard for a Vegas team that probably belonged in the NBA.

I can't take much joy from a 16-13 overall record when my hopes were raised by so many impartial (and thus presumably not delusional like me) judges. I'm bracing for junior guard Bobby Brown to put his name in the draft, and maybe he'll even get taken in the second round to give me another Titan to write about incessantly along with Bruce Bowen and Pape Sow, but Brown's team fell farther short of its potential ceiling than any CSUF predecessor.

Facts is facts.



Marc's Quote
D'Antoni

"A little adversity has helped me."

Cleveland's LeBron James, suggesting that all-too-fresh memories of the Cavaliers' second-half swoons in his first two seasons -- and the criticism he started to receive when these Cavs lost five of their first six games after the All-Star break -- gave him the experience and fuel he needed to make sure it didn't happen again.

The Cavs, still solidly placed at No. 4 in the East in spite of their initial post-break struggles, clinched the club's first playoff berth since 1998 on Wednesday night with a 107-94 triumph over Dallas. The win avenged a horrific collapse on the Mavs' floor from 19 points up at halftime earlier this month, and LeBron's 46 points took his average to 36.8 ppg over an eight-game stretch entering the weekend.

Even better: It appears that Larry Hughes will indeed return to the lineup in the next two weeks after missing more than three months with a broken finger.

The Cavs' inexperience has Washington, Milwaukee and Indiana all straining to finish fifth in the East for the right to oppose Cleveland -- instead of Detroit, Miami or New Jersey -- in Round 1. A healthy Hughes not only gives the Cavs an experience boost but also the second playmaker they were counting on when they assembled this team.



A Fine Line
MAR. 28: CHARLIE BELL VS. SUNS
MIN FGM-A AST REB PTS
35 7-12 13 10 19

Bell

What does Charlie Bell, Milwaukee's third point guard, suddenly have in common with a slightly more famous Michigan State alumnus named Magic Johnson?

Like Magic, Bell recorded a triple-double in his fourth career NBA start.

It happened for Magic Johnson on Oct. 28, 1979 ... six months after Bell was born.

It happened for Bell on Tuesday against Phoenix. The Suns actually gave the 27-year-old his NBA debut five seasons ago, after Bell went unselected in the 2001 draft, but Bell appeared in just seven games as a rookie (five with Phoenix, two with Dallas).

Back in the NBA after four seasons in Spain and Italy, and now starting in place of the injured T.J. Ford, Bell totaled 19 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds in the Bucks' 132-110 rout.

 

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