In what is being buried among the rubble that the trade deadline left in its wake, the trade that sent Kevin Garnett back to Minnesota may be more important than you think.
Last week, Garnett was traded from the Brooklyn Nets back to Minnesota Timberwolves for Thaddeus Young. On paper, yes, the Nets won this deal. But beneath the surface, this is a move that could have major implications down the line.
In what is a feel-good story, it appears Garnett is ready to write the final chapter of his professional career where it all started. Garnett waived his no-trade clause to make this move happen and by all intents and purposes he intends to go out the way he wants. Plus, there is word he is hinting at trying to own the Timberwolves some day.
While he may not go out a winner, that may be just fine with Garnett. You see, perhaps the only reason he left Minnesota in the first place was to chase his dreams of winning a title, and he accomplished that feat by winning a ring with Boston back in 2008. So with that now in tow, Garnett can go out on his own terms on the team that first believed in his potential.
Back in 1995 whether he knew it or not, Garnett would go on to become a pioneer. He would be the first high school player to forgo college and enter the NBA Drat since Darryl Dawkins and Bill Willoughby did so 20 years prior. While he wasn’t the first of his kind, Garnett started a trend of high school players skipping college altogether. The very next year Kobe Bryant threw his hat into the ring and seemingly every year after, a high school athlete would declare for the NBA Draft.
It was with this glut of high school basketball players entering the NBA that some say has watered down the league while also dashing so many kid’s dreams. The NBA would soon adopt a rule that mandated that a player be at least one year removed from graduation, or what is commonly known as the “One and Done” rule.
So, in that respect, Garnett was a revolutionary when he was taken as the fifth overall selection in the 1995 NBA draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves.
And almost right from the start, Garnett was an instant success.
While it took him some time to find his bearings, Garnett hit his his stride in his second year in the league. After averaging a decent 10.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in his rookie season, Garnett upped those numbers to 17 points and eight rebounds per game in his second season. It was after his second season that Minnesota really invested in Garnett, as they signed him to an unprecedented $126 million contract.
That money was certainly not wasted as Garnett had a marvelous run while he was with the Timberwolves. He became the “franchise” for his first 12 years in the league. Garnett would go on to be named the league’s MVP in 2004, while also becoming the Timberwolves all-time leading scorer. From an individual standpoint, he did it all in Minnesota. It’s just that the goal of winning a championship proved to be ever so elusive for Garnett in Minnesota. So, after the 2006-07 season, he was traded to the Boston Celtics after campaigning long and hard to get out of Minnesota.
He teamed up with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen to form one heck of a trio in Boston. They would go on to win the 2008 NBA Championship beating the Los Angeles Lakers, while also reaching the 2010 NBA Finals, but ultimately losing to the same Lakers’ team.
After a successful run with Boston, he again teamed up with Pierce, this time heading to Brooklyn to inaugurate the Nets first foray into New York City. While Garnett and the Nets made the playoffs both full seasons he was there, a lot more was expected of them and that was the thought heading into this season as well. Granted, the Nets are currently in the eight-spot in the Eastern Conference, the feeling is they will be bounced early.
Garnett is clearly a shell of his former self and is not that same athletic big-man freak that once captivated the NBA in the late-90’s and the beginning of the new century. He has now turned into a headstrong veteran who uses his mind and his basketball IQ in lieu of his fading athleticism.
Garnett is not going to turn around the fortunes of the Timberwolves any time soon, as Minnesota has one of the worst-five records in the NBA with just a 12-43 record. At this stage of his career, Garnett is all about being a complementary piece while acting as a sage-like Yoda to the young pups in Minnesota. Heck, he could be a father to many of these kids.
With a youthful core in Minnesota including the likes of Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad (who is out for the year), Gorgui Dieng, Anthony Bennett and Adreian Payne, Garnett can impart some of his advanced experience and knowledge of the game to the young guns of Minnesota, who could do some damage in time.
In particular his help with Dieng, Bennett and Payne could prove to be very beneficial, as those are post players who have a lot of upside, and Garnett could act as a de facto big man coach for the Timberwolves.
Again, this trade is not going to move the needle as much as the trades involving Goran Dragic, Michael Carter-Williams, Brandon Knight and Enes Kanter did, but it was a big trade nonetheless. It was because Garnett wanted this to happen. He wanted to go out on his own terms and return to the city that gave him his chance.
When you think Timberwolves, you inevitably think Garnett. This reunion seems natural and just had to happen.
Now with a championship ring and all the personal accolades and awards a player can have on his mantle, Garnett is finally ready to come home again and ride off into the sunset.