On Wednesday, news broke that the Minnesota Timberwolves were attempting to trade for Kevin Garnett. Garnett played for the Timberwolves for 12 seasons, including all of his prime years, and became a superstar in the process. That trade was complete Thursday.
While Garnett was able to lead the Timberwolves to one Western Conference Championship Series, he could never quite get them over the hump. Nevertheless, by any estimate he is one of the top five players of his generation. Garnett’s teams continually ran into the great Spurs and Lakers teams of that era, and lost to his other top-five contemporaries Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neal. Those Spurs and Lakers each knocked Garnett’s Timberwolves out of the playoffs on two occasions, and another team was bounced by the combination of Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas. The Wolves never put enough talent around Garnett to beat the other great teams in the west.
Garnett would of course go on to play for the Boston Celtics, where teamed up with Ray Allen and Paul Pierce he did collect a ring. Though difficult to say who among the three was the best player on the team at the time, most seem to agree it was Garnett. Being the best player on any NBA championship team is a real accomplishment, and I am sure a big piece of him will always reside in Boston.
But, Garnett is coming back to Minnesota where he will presumably close out his career. There have been rumors that he would like to purchase a minority interest in the team for some time. Flip Saunders, the current Timberwolves Coach, also seems to believe that Garnett – whose best playing days are long gone – can offer leadership to a team of young-but-talented players hoping to compete for playoff berths in the not-to-distant future.
From a pure basketball perspective, if Garnett can find any of his old form and legs, he is automatically the best defender on a bad defending team. Paired next to Nikola Pekovic, they would make for a hard front-court to handle on the offensive end as well. However, it is difficult to see Garnett playing more than 15 meaningful minutes on any consistent basis. In the end, the move is more about publicity and honoring the franchise’s keystone talent, a nice way to bookend a season that started when putative torch-bearer Kevin Love left for the Cleveland Cavaliers. I for one welcome Garnett back. The Target Center could use some of his patented energy.