Well, is he? Yes and no. Here at the Shamrock Headband, there is a shared sentiment that Big Al is slightly overrated in the eyes of most Celtics fans. We love the guy, but don't see him turning into McHale. Many people apparently do, and that is why the "Don't trade Al for Garnett" chorus has been audible since these rumors started. Whatever you think, it is undeniable that Al is about to get much richer when he signs an extension. With the way the NBA works, it seems unlikely that Al will sign for anything less than the max.
If Rashard Lewis gets the max, a 23 year old dominant post presence will surely get it as well. If the Celtics are wise they'd try to get Al to settle for something like a 5 year, $60 million deal this summer. But it is more likely he'll get about $15 million a year starting in 2008. That's a lot of hummers.
My concerns with with Al are slight but important. First off, he's not that big. Al is a power forward, he is not Dwight Howard, and to play him mainly at center is pretty silly. Secondly, as brilliant as Al can be offensively, I am unsure whether he can ever consistently command the ball enough to become a top 10 scorer in the league. This is a trait that definitely gets better with age, but Al has not improved significantly in this regard for three years. Lastly, Al is not a good passer.
So what I mean to say is that KG is a legit max player, and Al is not. But this is the NBA, so that means nothing fiscally. In the eyes of many people the fact that Garnett is 31 is enough to make a deal not worthwhile. But real max players are different than excellent second bananas. And the latter category is probably Al's career path: a solid 20-10 guy for years.
Al is part of a pretty exceptional first round class of 2004. It also includes Dwight Howard, Emeka Okafor, Luol Deng, Andre Iguodala, Josh Smith, Ben Gordon, Devin Harris, Kevin Martin, Andris Biedrins, Josh Childress, Nenad Krstic, Jameer Nelson and our dearly departed Delonte West. Many will sign excessive extensions that could eventually be harmful to their teams. Personally, I would rather be excessive by getting a player like KG.