After a touch of destiny, Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury are teammates again.
Stephon Marbury was selected fourth overall in the 1996 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks. He wasn’t a Buck for very long. Kevin McHale, who would begin his fetish of trading draft choices (Ray Allen, Brandon Roy, Mario Chalmers, O.J. Mayo), traded his fifth overall selection of Ray Allen and a future first round pick (Pick 10 in 1997, Danny Fortson) for Marbury’s draft rights.
The 1996 NBA Draft is heavily regarded as the second-best draft all-time (the best draft was 1984. The 2003 Draft is a close third), containing players Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, Peja Stojakovic, Allen, Marbury, Jermaine O’Neal, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and Kobe Bryant.
Marbury joined a young Timberwolves team featuring second year player Kevin Garnett and Tom Gugliotta. The Wolves finished with a 40-42 record and made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history behind Marbury’s 15.8 points per game, Garnett’s 17.0 ppg and Gugliotta’s 20.6 ppg. Garnett and Gugliotta were All-Stars and Marbury was elected to the All-Rookie First Team. The Wolves made a quick exit, however, getting swept by the Houston Rockets.
The 1997 season was a breakout season for the Wolves. Garnett and Marbury established themselves as two of the best rising stars in the NBA, with Garnett averaging 18.5 ppg and 9.6 rebounds, and Marbury averaged 17.7 and dished out 8.6 assists per game. Despite losing Gugliotta for half the season, the Wolves finished a then franchise-best 45-37, making the playoffs again. They gave the 61-21 Seattle SuperSonics a run for their money, but were ousted from the playoffs again, 3-2.
In 1998, the lockout season, the Wolves locked up Garnett with a six-year, $126-million contract, and the largest deal in NBA history. This left the Wolves with little cap space, and they were forced to let Tom Gugliotta walk so they could make Marbury a long-term deal. Gugliotta also made it publicly known that he didn’t want to play with Marbury. The Wolves lost both stars. Marbury stated he wanted to be the star of the franchise, and the highest-paid player (Marbury had been second to Googs on the payroll before Garnett’s deal.) The Wolves were forced to trade Marbury, who was in the last year of his contract, in an in-season, multi-team deal that sent Marbury the New Jersey Nets. Terrell Brandon was sent from Milwaukee to Minnesota, and Sam Cassell was sent from New Jersey to Milwaukee.
Garnett and Marbury went their separate ways after that. KG spend the next seven years in Minnesota, becoming a regular All-Star and MVP in 2004. Marbury floated around the league. After three years in New Jersey, he was traded in a deal to the Phoenix Suns that brought Jason Kidd to the East Coast. In 2004, Marbury, along with Penny Hardaway and Cezary Trybanski, was traded to the New York Knicks for Howard Eisley, Charlie Ward, Antonio McDyess, Maciej Lampe, Milos Vujanic, and a first-round 2004 draft choice (The Suns traded the draft pick along with an aging Tom Gugliotta to Utah. Utah selected Kris Humphries out of the University of Minnesota.)
While Garnett was competing for championships, Marbury was fueding with Knicks management. After receiving every possible punishment the Knicks could come up with (suspension, benching, fines, signing younger talent at Marbury’s position, having Isaiah Thomas coach the team), Marbury was eventually placed on the inactive list and banned from Knicks facilities and games. However, Marbury bought a courtside seat at the Garden the next day.
Finally fed up with his antics, Marbury was released in 2009. The Knicks bought out the $20 million left on his contract. Given his history of alienating management, coaches, players, and fans, Marbury easily cleared waivers and became a free agent.
The only team interested was the defending champion Boston Celtics, who need bench help. Marbury is speculated to have signed a veteran minimum $1.3 million contract.
Garnett, of course, was traded the the Celtics last season, and was an instumental part of their 2008 championship.
Fans will have to wait to see Garnett and Marbury on the floor, however. Garnett is out for another two weeks after suffering a right knee strain on Feb. 19 against Utah. So, fans will have to wait to see if the destiny of Garnett and Marbury does end in them hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy somewhere.