Taking a backhanded swipe at Kevin McHale in stating, “it’s time for Kevin to go, especially because the Kevin in question now bears the surname Garnett.'”, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Jim Souhan pulls no punches in advocating the trade of the Timberwolves’ franchise player.

A flawed, poorly run team could not contend last season when one of the NBA’s supposedly elite players was healthy and productive.

Now virtually the same management team and virtually the same coaching staff will try to win with virtually the same roster, with two exceptions:

1. Garnett will be a year older, at 30, having averaged 39 high-energy minutes per game.

2. Rashad McCants, the developing player with the best chance of improving the Wolves, is out indefinitely after undergoing microfracture knee surgery, a frightening injury for a player who relies on explosiveness.

This leaves the Wolves with two choices:

1. Make a desperate move, trading for a problematic player like Stephon Marbury, to pair Garnett with someone who could make the Wolves contenders.

2. Start over.

Admit that Garnett’s career has been wasted on a franchise that mismanaged talent, blew draft picks and cheated blatantly on the Joe Smith signing.>

Admit that even with Garnett healthy and at his best, the 2006-07 Wolves will not be an attractive draw to fans disgusted by the current regime’s mistakes.

Admit that having Garnett healthy will keep the Wolves competitive enough that the odds will be against earning a transformative draft choice.

Admit that Garnett’s trade value will only decrease if he continues to log major minutes for bad teams, wearing down his knees and patience.

Garnett is the Wolves’ only healthy, valuable asset worth more than a light rail token.

Not only must he be traded, but he must be traded in one of those subtle, fan-angering moves that isn’t fully appreciated for years.

Garnett is of best use to the only franchise for which he has played if he becomes the Wolves’ Chuck Knoblauch, A.J. Pierzynski or Herschel Walker.

Remember, Twins fans thought their franchise was giving up when Terry Ryan made his deals. The Knoblauch deals built the foundation of three straight division championships. The Pierzynski deal brought Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser. Herschel Walker … well, you probably remember that one, too.