In 1995, the Minnesota Timberwolves had no face of their franchise. They were a franchise that had no semblance of success and no one could see anything happening in their future. A decision had to be made. What were the Timberwolves to do? Who would lead them forward in their quest to become more relevant? The Timberwolves had plenty of talents to choose from, but they went with probably the most unproven player in the NBA Draft. Coming out of high school, Kevin Garnett was a monster. He was very slight of build, but he could run the court like a guard and he could finish at the rim. He just oozed talent from his pores. Garnett would take advantage of the early entry rule where he could leave out of high school and enter the draft. And his talent caught the eye of the Timberwolves as the one to lead them into the future. The Timberwolves selected Garnett with their fifth pick in the draft and the franchise then was changed. Although some were not sure of what Kevin would be, he came in and showed them what he could be. Garnett would go on to make Minnesota a perennial playoff for a stretch of time (from the 1996-1997 season to the 2003-2004 season). But towards the end of his time in Minnesota, it seemed as if the Timberwolves were struggling to put anything around him and they were not winning basketball games. And as they struggled to win games, it seemed that Garnett became frustrated with his situation in Minnesota. Although never confirmed, it was rumored behind the scenes that Garnett was not happy and wanted to leave. And after missing the playoffs for three years in Minnesota, it finally happened. He was traded to Minnesota in offseason before the 2007 season and the Garnett era was over just like that. And along with the trade of Garnett, so also left the chances of Minnesota ever having a chance to make the playoffs anytime soon.
As of right now, the Timberwolves have not made the playoffs since Garnett was traded in the 2007 season. Although the Timberwolves have tried to make it happen with players like Kevin Love, Al Jefferson, Kevin Martin and countless others over the past eight years, they just have never seemed to make it happen. Meanwhile, Kevin Garnett has had some success in his career after Minnesota. Garnett won a title in his first season in Boston and Doc Rivers always had his team, which consisted of Garnett being teamed with two other Hall Of Famers, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, consistently in the thick of things in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Eventually the Celtics broke up the team and Garnett was traded with Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets. And as time went on in Brooklyn, it was evident that age was catching up to Garnett. The Nets began to cut his minutes last season and this season as well. The young players like big man Mason Plumlee were the ones taking the majority of the time on the court while Garnett was getting token starts and sitting most of the game. The Nets were in contention to make the playoffs potentially in the East this season, but Garnett and the Nets got wind of a trade that could send him back to Minnesota. And of course Garnett accepted the trade. The deal sent Garnett back to Minnesota and sent Minnesota forward Thaddeus Young to the Nets. Garnett was back home and it was thought that he would retire after this season and end his great career. But Garnett, despite only playing five games for the Timberwolves after the trade, has other plans.
It is being reported that Garnett is leaning towards being active for the 2015-2016 season, making it 21 years he has been in the NBA. That is an incredible achievement and should be applauded. But looking at Garnett, you have to wonder what he even has left in the tank. He was out with injuries most of this season with the Nets and Timberwolves and even when he did play he was not playing that many minutes. The veteran forward should go out the way he wants to go out, but there has to be concern as to him playing another season in Minnesota. Although he is a free agent after this season, it is assumed that he will be in Minnesota next season. The Timberwolves need a veteran presence, but not one that will be counterproductive to helping their current big men grow. As it looks in their rotation, you have big men like Gorgui Dieng, Anthony Bennett and Adreian Payne along with veteran Nikola Pekovic there. Adding Garnett to that rotation would mean a crowded frontcourt and that’s not even factoring in the Timberwolves adding another big man potentially if they get the 1st or 2nd pick in this draft. It’s nice that Garnett is coming back, but that will create more issues for this team if Garnett is starting and takes minutes from the youngsters developing. This Minnesota team needs more developing and there are young. That means that no winning will be happening anytime soon and that is what Garnett must get used to. He has been a great player over his career, but now he can look forward to ending his career in obscurity and with a losing team at that.
The best ending for Garnett would have been to retire after this season and potentially become an assistant coach or take a front office job with the Timberwolves. His head coach currently, Flip Saunders, is also a member of the front office and almost assuredly would give the franchise’s greatest player a job with the team. And besides a job with the front office, he could be the guy that helps get these young Timberwolves ready and work with them everyday in practice. That would go a long way in helping the team get back to the playoffs or at least in contention. But instead, Garnett is going to play again and further damage his legacy. He is worn down and the tread on his tires is thin. The end has come for Garnett and he has earned the right to go out on his own terms. But he also has to be mindful that his skills are diminished and he is not the same as he used to be. The Big Ticket is no more and maybe the The Big Mentor should be his nickname because that will be his best contribution for this team next season.