As the Bon Jovi song asks, “who says you can’t go home?”
Luckily for Kevin Garnett, that question led to reality. The news came down just before the NBA trade deadlines conclusion as the Minnesota Timberwolves and Brooklyn Nets struck a deal to send Garnett back to the team he spent his first 12 seasons with in exchange for forward Thaddeus Young.
The trade was the kind of thing that fairy tales and feel good stories are made of. It’s also befitting of fan made video tributes like this one.
Although the Timberwolves are re-acquiring the best player in franchise history, it’s fair to say he’s merely a shell of his former self. In 42 games for the Nets this season, Garnett posted equal totals of 6.8 points and rebounds in 20.3 minutes per game. A far cry from the totals the former 15-time All-Star posted for nearly a decade when he routinely posted over 20 points and 11 rebounds a game.
That raises the question. What can the legendary veteran contribute to the team at this stage of his career? The answer is simple.
Currently, the Timberwolves have the second worst record in the NBA at 12-43, only trailing the lowly New York Knicks who sit at 10-45. Also, excluding Garnett, the Timberwolves average age on the roster is just 24.4-years-old. A young team that is still searching for its identity amid a trying season.
The young core includes 19-year-old phenom and 2015 dunk contest winner Zach LaVine. The talented young guard is reportedly terrified of Garnett’s impending arrival, as he told Tom Powers of the Pioneer Press.
“This is his locker and I’m actually kind of scared because I think he is going to say something about me being in his locker.”
“I did more than offer; I wanted him to take it. I wanted him to sit there. I said, ‘I’ll move!’ But it’s going to be great for me; I know that. Future hall of famer, man, everyone wants to get to his level. He was playing in this league before I was born!”
That type of respect won’t be taken for granted. It’s a testament to Garnett and his years of sacrifice and dominance that allow him to command such respect. The former NBA champion can pass along advice and help teach younger players what it takes to sustain longevity in the NBA. In LaVine’s case, the explosive teen could be a relatable case for Garnett.
The 6’11 forward became the first player since 1975 to be drafted out of high school when the Timberwolves drafted him fifth overall in the 1995 NBA draft. Just a teenager at the time, Garnett was able to parlay his youthful exuberance and skill into an intimidation aspect, thus, enabling Garnett to lead the NBA in rebounds on four different occasions. Establishing his presence in not just the paint, but the entire court.
This provides LaVine an opportunity to be taken under Garnett’s lengthy wing and learn from one of the all-time greats. LaVine can take that youthful disposition that is sometimes perceived as cockiness and transform it into a leadership quality for Timberwolves teams of the future.
Aside from LaVine, the Timberwolves boast an impressive core of young players. That core consists of the first overall pick of the 2014 NBA draft Andrew Wiggins, international superstar Ricky Rubio and the talented Shabazz Muhammad. A promising and rising crop of talent that will be the faces of Minnesota sports for years to come.
Even if Garnett’s contributions on the court won’t be as significant as they were in the past, there are still plenty of things the name value of “Kevin Garnett” can provide. When the time comes for Garnett to hang up his sneakers, his business in Minnesota will not be done. The trade back to where it all started has Garnett eyeing retirement in a Minnesota uniform.
The contract extension Kevin Garnett, 38, will sign with the Timberwolves this summer will be for two years. During that period, Garnett and Wolves president-coach Flip Saunders are expected to try to form a group to buy the team from Glen Taylor.
As Walters mentioned in the article, the Timberwolves were worth an estimated $625 million last year. That figure will likely skyrocket by the time the 2004 NBA MVP will be ready to make a formal offer. Even if the purchase seems unlikely at this time, last November, Garnett did reveal his intentions to buy the Timberwolves to Yahoo Sports.
“I want to buy the Timberwolves. Put a group together and perhaps some day try to buy the team. That’s what I want.”
It’s clear that Garnett is serious about being a part of Minnesota basketball for the foreseeable future. Outside of a few glimpses, the legendary Kevin Garnett is likely a thing of the past. In reality, this tenure with the Timberwolves might turn out to be an intense scouting session by a future hall of famer and possible future owner.
If you live in Minnesota and want to go see the Timberwolves play, it will be the Big Ticket in town.
[Image by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images]