NBA Rumors: Minnesota Timberwolves' Kevin Garnett Might Be Forced Into Retirement

The end of the 2015-16 NBA season brought the career of Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant to a close as Bryant retired after 20 seasons in the league. It was hard to watch Kobe's career come to an end despite the fact that he announced prior to the season that 2015-16 would be his last.

Last week, San Antonio Spurs legend, and arguably the greatest power forward of all time, Tim Duncan announced that he would be hanging it up after 19 seasons in the NBA. Duncan's decision wasn't necessarily a shock, but there was speculation that he may come back and play one more season in San Antonio prior to his announcement.

Losing two legends in one season is difficult for any sport, but the NBA might be on the verge of losing a third as a recent report from Steve Aschburner of NBA.com indicates that Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett is contemplating retirement due to the health of his knees.

"I just asked him, 'Kevin, what are you going to do?' His answer was, 'I'd really like to play next year 'cuz I'd like to go out knowing we got into the playoffs,' " Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said.
"Then (Garnett) said, 'I don't know if I can.'

"I asked (Garnett), 'What does that mean?' And he said, 'I don't know.'

"So I asked the question but I didn't get an answer that helped me. Yes, theoretically, he'd like to play. But (Garnett) has some doubts of his knees holding up. I believe (Garnett) told me exactly the truth."

Kevin only played in 38 games last season, and didn't appear in a game after January 23, due to his knees. Garnett averaged 3.2 points and 3.9 rebounds in 14.6 minutes per contest, but his value to the Timberwolves goes much further than his impact on the court. Minnesota is one of the youngest teams in the NBA and Kevin's veteran leadership could go a long way towards turning the Timberwolves into a playoff team next season.

Garnett's presence would also have a profound impact on second-year pro and 2016 NBA Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns who is already one of the top centers in the NBA. Kevin's experience and knowledge for another season would be invaluable to the development and progression of Towns' career.

If Kevin Garnett makes the decision to return for one last season, he would break the NBA record for the most seasons played by one player. Garnett is currently in a tie with Robert Parrish and Kevin Willis with 21 seasons logged in the NBA, but would set the record at 22 if his knees allow him to play next year. There's also $8 million waiting for Kevin next season, as he's heading into the last year of a two-year contract.

On the other hand, if Garnett chooses retirement it would bring an end to one of the greatest careers in NBA history. Kevin was drafted No. 5 overall way back in the 1995 NBA Draft by the Timberwolves and played 12 seasons in Minnesota before being dealt to the Boston Celtics in 2007. Garnett and the Celtics would go on to win the NBA title the following season.

Garnett remained in Boston until 2013 when he was dealt to the Brooklyn Nets along with Paul Pierce. Things never quite worked out in Brooklyn, and the Nets eventually traded Kevin back to the Timberwolves in 2015.

In his 21 seasons, Garnett has averaged 17.8 points, 10 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game while winning the one NBA title, one NBA MVP and one NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award. Kevin also made 15 NBA All-Star teams, nine NBA All-Defensive First Teams and four All-NBA First Teams. In short, Garnett will most definitely be a member of the 2021 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class with Bryant and Duncan if he chooses to retire.

The Timberwolves would immensely benefit from Kevin Garnett's return for an NBA-record 22nd season, but it sounds like there's a very real possibility that we've seen the end of "KG."

[Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images]