The post-Chris Mullin era begins with a big woulda, shoulda, coulda, if we're to believe a report by the Fanhouse's Matt Steinmetz. Per the report, Chris Mullin was ready to beat the Boston Celtics with a trade offer for Kevin Garnett in 2007. But Warriors ownership eighty-six'ed the deal, because the additional salary would have put the team over the luxury tax.
Steinmetz' report is a standard post-mortem on the Chris Mullin era, describing the rift that grew between Mullie and owner Chris Cohan over how to handle the Monta Ellis moped fiasco. But according to Steinmetz, "the seeds of discontent were sewn two years ago, when the Warriors were very much a player for Kevin Garnett, who was being shopped by the Minnesota Timberwolves at the time."
"According to multiple sources, the Warriors were close to a deal for Garnett, but it would have required them to take on additional salary that would have put them over the luxury tax," Steinmetz writes, "Warriors management said 'No' to the deal, and Garnett ended up in Boston."
If true, then imagine the alternate universe wherein Garnett would have been front courted with Stephen Jackson and a still-here Baron Davis. But consider also that in this alternate universe, the Warriors would surely have had to part with no less than Ellis, plus Andres Biedrins, Brandan Wright, or anyone else on the Warriors roster whom the Timberwolves may have coveted.
That's just my speculation, as the report does not mention what sort of package Mullin actually was putting together. And we can only guess as to whether the Timberwolves would have preferred Mullin's offer to the seven-player package Boston offered up.
Nonetheless, it's another indication that Mullin had to operate here with his hands at least somewhat tied. If the Warriors had made this trade right after their improbable '06-'07 season playoff run -- bringing in a legit big man to mix into their Nellie small-ball formula -- then we might still have reason to believe.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer whose salary would not put you over the luxury tax tax.