Pride: Garnett’s pride is not to be underestimated. It’s his strength and perhaps sometimes it can be a deterrent. There’s simply no way he could have liked how the season ended, losing to Miami in five.
Garnett averaged 6.5 points and 6.6 rebounds as Jason Kidd kept his minutes down to 20.5 a night. But in what could have been his final game, Garnett had two points and eight rebounds in 25 minutes. Garnett might not want to go out like that and he’s always fueled by motivation to prove people wrong.
It’s his life: During the playoffs, Garnett was asked whether he still would have considered joining the Clippers last summer if he knew then what we know today about Donald Sterling.
“I’m a Net,” Garnett said. “I don’t focus on almost. In high school, I never dealt with the chick that almost wanted to go out with me.”
The reason I bring this terrific gem of a quote up is because he said later that he often makes analogies to high school because everybody can relate to high school. That makes perfect sense. And that reminded me that Garnett’s entire life has been high school and the pros.
Since 1995, Garnett has known only one thing and that is playing pro basketball. And he's been among the all-time best at doing it. Giving something up that you’ve done and loved for nearly two decades is not easy. How will KG be able to satisfy his legendary competitive juices without basketball?
Kidd could try to persuade Garnett, who will make $12 million next season, to return, keep his minutes down and mentor younger big men like Brook Lopez and Mason Plumlee.
Garnett turned 38 on Monday and has to determine whether he still wants to keep playing. Can his body take another season? His mind certainly can. It’s all he has ever known and that’s a hard thing to give up completely.
Contending: Much like with Pierce, the Nets must convince KG they can take a step forward from this season and remain a contender.
If he returns, he will want to play for a team with a shot to win. If Brooklyn doesn’t make any blockbuster deals this summer, can the Nets sell Garnett on being better than last season with a healthier Deron Williams, who likely will have his ankles cleaned out, and Lopez?
They could argue they will be better with Kidd and the core having a second year together. Or perhaps the Nets could strike a deal and trade Williams and/or Lopez for another star or more pieces. The Nets will explore all options this summer to see if they can improve. Either way, Garnett has time to see what transpires.
The Truth: If Pierce decides to re-sign, he could convince Garnett to return for one more season. Of course, Pierce’s decision could be impacted by Garnett’s decision.
REASONS GARNETT WOULD LEAVE OR RETIRE:
Pride: The very same reason that could bring him back also could be why he hangs it up. Garnett is so proud that he may not want to continue playing at a diminished level.
If he returns, his role, which was playing five- to six-minute stretches, will be the same or reduced a bit to preserve him for the postseason.
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Greener pastures: Like Pierce, KG could determine that the chances of winning one more title are better somewhere other than Brooklyn. Garnett could decide that a core of Williams, Lopez and Joe Johnson isn’t enough to get out of the East.
And like Pierce, Garnett will likely talk to old friend Doc Rivers at some point in the offseason. The former Celtics coach could always be up for a potential reunion to help the Clippers get over the hump. Of course, the Clips would have to figure out a way to make things work in a potential trade for Garnett.
Health: Kidd told reporters at the Nets’ final gathering of the season that he wants Garnett back but also said the big man has to consider his health. Kidd’s point is that no future Hall of Famer wants to go out with an unforeseen injury.
“We don’t have the luxury of being able to do this forever,” Kidd said. “He’s done it for a long time at a very high level and the biggest thing and concerns that I’ve talked to him about is you don’t want to leave with someone carrying you off the court. And that’s fair for him.”
Odds: Sources in and around the Nets' organization aren’t sure what Garnett will decide to do. He could very well take most of the offseason to make a decision and deservedly so. The odds seem to lean toward Garnett either leaving or retiring as of now. But as Garnett loves to say, anything is possible.