When last season ended, Kevin Garnett was quite confident he was going to come back for one more season in the NBA and with the Minnesota Timberwolves. But a few months later, he’s not quite sure his body has what it takes to play even a minor role during a long season.
And it does make sense. Garnett is 40, and will be entering his 22nd NBA season. He played just 38 games last season, and over the last three seasons has managed a total of 139 games with 18.8 minutes a night, averaging 5.7 points and 5.9 rebounds. Leadership and mentorship are important, and Garnett does have some games when his defense and energy do give some sort of advantage to the Timberwolves, but if talking to players and having some presence-effect on the team is all he does, he can do it without actually being an active player on the roster.
The Timberwolves aren’t pushing Garnett to make a decision. Tom Thibodeau, the new coach and president of basketball of operations, is saying the great ones need and deserve time. The two worked together on the Boston Celtics, when Thibodeau was an assistant coach under Doc Rivers. Garnett does make $8 million next season, but the Timberwolves will probably leave that cap space unused if he retires, so they’re in no rush to hear a decision from Garnett.
The Timberwolves don’t want Garnett to stay for the money, and owner Glen Taylor has said that a big part of his $8 million salary will be available to him via a buyout if he chooses to retire. There have also been rumors that Garnett will look to become a minority shareholder on the Timberwolves once he retires, but Taylor said they haven’t spoke about it because it isn’t appropriate while Garnett is still a player on the team.
If Garnett does retire, he’ll leave behind a legacy of 22 seasons, 15 All-Star games, one MVP award and one championship ring with the Boston Celtics.