With training camp less than two months away, we’re examining some burning questions with the Brooklyn Nets.
Today’s question: How much does Kevin Garnett have left?
The Nets have said that all indications are that Garnett is returning for a 20th season.
However, the Boston Globe recently caught up with Garnett’s old coach Doc Rivers. He said he has been in touch with Garnett and that he wasn’t totally sure what Garnett will do.
“We talked a couple of times, but the worst time I could talk to Kevin is right after the season, but I hear both [that he wants to play and that he wants to retire],” Rivers told the Globe. “I get a feeling he still wants to play, but I just don’t know.
“Kevin, in the summer, goes into hiding. Which is something I’ve always had a lot of respect for. I think more players should do that instead of doing all the stuff all summer; you see players everywhere. The reason Kevin has been able to play so long is during the offseason he goes underground. He recuperates. Not just physically.”
Let’s just assume Garnett returns, which raises the question: How much does he have left?
That question is really more for the playoffs than the regular season. I just don’t see the Nets playing Garnett a lot in the regular season as Lionel Hollins will likely take a similar approach to Jason Kidd by resting Garnett on back-to-backs and limiting his minutes.
Garnett averaged 20.5 minutes a game last season and might average slightly less than that this campaign. He played in 54 games in 2013-14 and will probably play around that number or fewer if his health holds up. He averaged 6.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, but his value is more than statistics. It’s his ability to communicate on defense and get guys in the right place. His experience and leadership on and off the floor is valuable, and he can mentor Brook Lopez and Mason Plumlee.
If Hollins can keep Garnett’s playing time down, I think KG can provide the Nets with 20 minutes of solid defense and rebounding in the playoffs. That could be plenty if Lopez is healthy and playing at full strength in the postseason.
If Lopez is healthy, the Nets won’t have to rely as heavily as they did on Garnett in the paint in the second round of the playoffs against the Heat. Also, Plumlee, a promising young big man, should continue to develop. So Garnett should have enough left in the tank to help the Nets similar to last season.
I know he faded down the stretch in that second round. I think he can be more like he was in the first round against Toronto, when he scored in double figures in four of the seven games and posted a double-double in Game 7.
Perhaps the bigger question with Garnett is how happy he will be this season. His close buddy Paul Pierce has gone to Washington after the Nets opted to go in a different direction. Kidd, the coach who helped persuade Garnett to waive his no-trade clause to come to Brooklyn in the first place, is also gone.
KG is a professional, though. If he decides to return, he will give all that he has on the court. And I think he has enough left in the tank to still be a key contributor.