MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -The way Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor sees it, he didn't really have much of a choice.
Strapped with what he says was the fourth-highest payroll in the league being shelled out to a team that has missed the playoffs for three straight years, Taylor said he had to do something drastic to turn around a moribund franchise.
It doesn't get any more drastic than this.
Taylor pulled the trigger Tuesday on a blockbuster trade that sent 10-time All-Star and former MVP Kevin Garnett to the Boston Celtics for seven players in the largest trade for any one player in NBA history.
``It was just kind of a process and it seemed to be by far the best alternative, if not the only alternative,'' Taylor said on Tuesday night.
It was a gut-wrenching move for an emotional owner who had befriended Garnett during the player's 12 years in Minnesota. Taylor watched Garnett grow up from a scrawny, 18-year-old high school kid drafted in 1995 to one of the best forwards in the history of the game.
But in the end, Garnett's exorbitant salary (he was due $22 million next season and could have opted for free agency at the end of the year) combined with the Timberwolves' monumental struggles on the court to force Taylor's hand.
So, after extensive talks with Garnett about Taylor's decision to get younger and rebuild, he instructed vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale to call his buddy Danny Ainge in Boston.
Ainge offered rising star Al Jefferson, swingman Gerald Green, point guard Sebastian Telfair, forward Ryan Gomes, post player Theo Ratliff and two first-round picks to bring ``The Big Ticket'' to Boston, ending an era in Minnesota.
The decision to move the only franchise player in the organization's nondescript history came as a shock to many in the Twin Cities, including Garnett, who has always professed his love of Minnesota and never expressed a desire to play elsewhere.
At a press conference in Boston, Garnett sounded as if he felt a little betrayed by an organization he has been so loyal to for so many years.
``I guess at the end of the day, I'm loyal to a point where I feel if someone's loyal to me then I have no problem with that,'' Garnett said. ``But when that changes, it's pretty easy for me.''
Taylor said he didn't know how to respond to that, nor to Garnett's glowing assessment of the Celtics' ``professional'' organization, a clear shot at the disarray in Minnesota.
``If he could have had his druthers and everything would have worked out, he preferred to stay here,'' Taylor said. ``He always assumed, as I did, that we would be together. That was his goal and that's what he wanted. He was a little emotional when he talked to me. Sort of like you're parting with good friends, but you have to get on with your journey.''
Playing alongside Paul Pierce and Ray Allen in the weak Eastern Conference, Garnett's journey has a chance to end in the NBA finals, with a championship that would complete the stellar resume he built in Minnesota.
For the Timberwolves, it's back to square one with a new group of young players that Taylor admitted will have low expectations next year.
``I'm confident the fans know that this is something we needed to do to get better in the long run,'' Taylor said. ``Our goal always has been to have a team that was competitive, and we did that for eight years. Then we took steps back over the last three years. Now it's time to try to move ahead. How well we do with this (trade), I think that could be part of it.''

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