He’s been in the league for 19 seasons and is 38 years old. He’s years removed from being a dominant player. He just averaged a career-worst 6.6 points per game and had his lowest rebounding average since his rookie season at 6.5 boards per contest. He just missed 28 games and only played an average of 20.5 minutes per contest. Yet Jason Kidd and the Brooklyn Nets need Kevin Garnett to return for one more season.
Garnett is among several Nets players that is not a certainty to be on the Brooklyn roster come opening day next season. After a career-worst season, it’s entirely possible that Garnett will decide to call it quits this offseason. Kidd and the Nets organization should hope he doesn’t.
Garnett’s best attributes now are something that can’t really be measured in terms of statistics. He does several things, though, that younger players such as Brook Lopez, Andray Blatche and Mason Plumlee could learn from.
There are few players that have worked harder to perfect their craft than Garnett. Even at his current age and despite all the miles he has on his legs, KG works as hard as anyone during practice and studying game film. No one has ever questioned his work ethic through his 19-year career.
Few players bring as much as heart and intensity as the future first ballot Hall of Famer does. KG leaves everything on the court. He still pounds his chest after every big play he makes. He’s also not afraid to yell at either his teammates or his opposition. He never gives up.
In many ways Garnett is practically an extension of the coach on the court. He holds everyone accountable, especially on the defensive end. If a teammate makes a mistake on the court, Garnett is likely to get in their ear, even during practice.
If Garnett comes back that could increase the chances that his longtime teammate, Paul Pierce, decides to re-sign with the Nets. Pierce is a free agent this offseason and has yet to commit to the Nets for next season. Pierce and Garnett have enjoyed plenty of success together after having teamed-up in 2007 with the Boston Celtics. The two star’s are good friends and like playing with each other. If Garnett comes back, you can bet that he will try to get his friend to re-sign.
Should KG decide to retire, Kidd and GM Billy King would be wise to offer Garnett an assistant coaching position with the team. He is one of the best power forwards and defenders of all-time. He also has an incredibly high basketball IQ. KG’s presence and knowledge would certainly help the young guys on the team.
Having a player like KG around should help Kidd as he continues to improve his coaching skills. The presence of a veteran like him who only wants to win makes life much easier on Kidd. Although they may not always see eye-to-eye in terms of how many games and minutes KG should play, their focus on achieving the same goal of winning a championship will never waiver. As Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com recently said, “Kidd could try to persuade Garnett to return, keep his minutes down and mentor younger big men like Lopez and Plumlee.”
Garnett has plenty of reasons to come back, including the $12 million dollars he is scheduled to make next season. The Nets have plenty of reasons they should want him back. Whatever he decides to do, the Nets need to keep him around.