The Benefits For the Minnesota Timberwolves if Kevin Garnett Retired


Source: The Boston Globe

There comes a time in every professional athlete's life when he or she needs to consider whether it's time to call it quits, or if they can continue to play at a high enough level to contribute to the team. With 21 years of NBA experience, Kevin Garnett has had a decorated career with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtics, and briefly, the Brooklyn Nets. As a rare, generational talent and a guaranteed Hall-of-Famer, he should consider retirement from being active as a player.

 

Garnett is a 15 time All-Star, a nine time NBA All-Defensive First Team selectee, a four time All-NBA First Team selectee, a NBA Defensive Player of the Year, a NBA Most Valuable Player of the Year, and has an NBA Championship title to add to his legacy.

 

He's a player who changed the definition of what a power forward can be. With his killer mid-range game, savvy post up moves, and defensive tenacity—Garnett has helped shape today's power forward position.

 

Look around the league, there are many more stretch-fours being utilized than the prototypical power forward banger, who makes a living playing by the blocks. Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Anthony Davis are prime examples who have followed Garnett's lead. Although Garnett was not a three-point specialist by any means, the range he showcased throughout his career definitely has influenced today's power forwards, and even some centers, to step out and take long two-or three-point shots.

 

With that being said, Garnett currently has one year left on his contract, and according to some reports, he's going to be mulling it over for a while to see if he will retire or return to the Timberwolves for another season. I believe there would be benefits for both parties if he retired now instead of playing another season.

 

Of immediate benefit for the Timberwolves, if Garnett retired, would be an added $8 million in cap space to their projected amount of $24 million. This would give the Wolves leeway to throw in a few more million on a contract offer to a desirable free-agent. For example, if the Wolves decide they wanted to target Atlanta Hawk's unrestricted free-agent, Al Horford—they would have the funds and a better chance to possibly lure him to Minnesota to play alongside Karl-Anthony Towns.

 

Another benefit for the Wolves would be the extra 10-15 minutes playing time per game available for other players, or to give increased court time to someone who deserves a larger role.

 

With Garnett no longer in uniform, there won't be that pressure to start him every game because of his stature as one of the league's greatest. The coaching staff can put in whomever they feel is the best fit for a particular contest.

 

Some people might say it would be a loss if Garnett retired because then the team would lose a strong locker room guy, his veteran leadership to help guide the young kids into a successful transition. He came back for a reason, he wants to be a part of the franchise in some capacity.

 

There are rumors Garnett may hope to eventually be an owner of the team; regardless of that, he would be a better asset to have in a coaching role and/or in player development. Continuing to have him at practice and in the locker room would be an enormous asset to this team.

 

For Garnett himself, there may be physical benefits to retiring this summer rather than playing next season. In 2015-2016 he only played 38 games, averaging 14.6 minutes per game. To some watching, it appeared that the physical toll on his body was strong.

 

Since Garnett’s trade from Minnesota to Boston during the 2006-7 offseason, there has been a gradual decline in the amount of games played along with his overall stats lowering in the following seasons. This was due, at first, to becoming one third of the big three in Boston with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Garnett no longer had to be “The Man” every game, not expected to carry the bulk of the load.

 

Source: Basketball Reference

After their championship runs in 2007-8 and 2009-10, Garnett hit some injury snags, which continued through his tenure in Boston and followed him back to Minnesota. It's apparent that at times Garnett is running on fumes, and one wonders whether, now, playing might be of decreased overall benefit to the team.

 

Leaving $8 million on the table could be hard to do. But with Garnett’s commitment, longevity and sense of esteem to both the Wolves and the NBA, perhaps his contract could be adjusted to $2-$4 million for this season, followed by adding him to the coaching staff as this youthful team continues to grow. The addition of $4-6 million in added cap space would help, as mentioned above, with free-agent prospects.

 

As a popular basketball era winds down, one that featured the likes of Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett—it’s remarkable to reflect how these greats have influenced the current generation of NBA talent. They have all influenced the play of current players such as Chris Paul, Anthony Davis, Karl Towns, and Kevin Durant.

 

If Garnett does retire this offseason, the added cap space would be nice, but ultimately it would be hard to say goodbye to one of the most polarizing basketball players of all time.

 

If Garnett decides to stick around and play one more year, I won't be mad. He'll still bring his winning attitude, a strong locker room presence, and help with player development. If he comes back next season, I hope he'll receive at least a fraction of the farewell Bryant had received this season.

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