We’ve been hearing that Kevin Garnett is on the verge of retiring for quite a few seasons. However, it has never looked as close to that day than right now, following his first season with the Brooklyn Nets. Although it won’t make any difference on their cap situation whether he stays on for another season or not, there isn’t too much he can give anyone anymore unless you really value leadership and experience.
If the Nets were a young, up & coming team that needed someone in the locker room to keep things in perspective and tell old “war” stories from playoffs that have come and gone, it would make sense to keep Garnett on, or hope for his decision to be one that keeps him with the team for one year. But age and experience isn’t a problem the Nets have. They have many others. And Garnett’s fate isn’t completely up to him.
Garnett and Pierce have a connection from their days in Boston, when they made two NBA finals and won one of them. They left the Celtics together, coming with a $27 million cap hit to the Nets in hope of leading the most expensive team in the NBA to the title. It wasn’t even close to being a success, losing in five games to the Miami Heat in the conference semifinals, arrogant enough to believe that the regular season meant anything.
Pierce is a free agent, and will probably choose a team that offers him a chance to compete for an NBA title. After making $15 million last season, Pierce will be taking a huge pay cut and probably won’t mind much. Unlike Garnett, Pierce is still an important contributor on a day to day basis, even if he isn’t as consistent as before, not to mention with a much lower upside, understandably so.
Garnett isn’t in the same boat. He averaged 6.5 points per game in 20 minutes a night last season. His body couldn’t take a lot more, and he played just 54 games. He’ll be making $12 million next season, and obviously won’t be living up to the salary he is making. The only thing that matters is the luxury tax effect. At the moment, without Pierce, the Nets will be taking a $90 million cap hit. Garnett retiring or not doesn’t make a difference, because there’s no salary exception.
Maybe there will be a buyout. Right now, the pride and belief in doing something special has been taken out of their chests. The Brooklyn Nets was an interesting, expensive experiment, at least this squad was. But it’s time to let the older players play out their contract and leave, or maybe reach a buyout with them in hope of clearing a lot of cap space, while guys like Garnett seek out one final shot at a title ring.