EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brooklyn Nets power forward Kevin Garnett, who is set to become just the fourth player in league history to play at least 20 seasons, was noncommittal when asked if this will be his final season.
"I like to come in each year and assess it," Garnett said Friday at the team's annual media day. "I've always said the days when I'm not feeling basketball again, which is absurd, or when I don't have the motivation to come in here, it's time to move on. But that's not the case. I'm very much motivated. I'm looking to have a better year than last year and I'm looking to enjoy this year."
Garnett, who is in the final year of his contract and will make $12 million in 2014-15, said he contemplated retirement -- as he had the previous two seasons -- after the Nets were ousted by the Miami Heat in the second round of the playoffs, but ultimately decided to come back.
"[Retirement is] always somewhere in there, especially when you come up short of your goal for the year," Garnett said. "But I must admit these last three years I've thought about life and where basketball is as far as priority. So yeah, in the back of your mind you think about it. But the decision is yes or no. It's not like 50-50 I'm in the middle of the road or gray area. I'm a person that when you commit to something, you commit to it. It's that simple."
Garnett, 38, averaged career lows across the board last season, including points (6.5), rebounds (6.6) and minutes (20.5). He struggled with injuries and restrictions, missing 28 games and skipping several back-to-backs. But he contributed strongly as a defensive player, leading the NBA in defensive rebound percentage and leading the Nets in defensive efficiency.
"Right now, I feel great," Garnett said. "Right now, without the bumps and bruises, I feel great. Give me about three days, I'll tell you I'm feeling much different from right now. But I've been working out since June, since we stopped. Obviously, I take care of myself. I take care of my body. So we'll see. Eighty-two-plus games beats you up a little bit, so we'll see."
Garnett feels more comfortable in a supporting role now after being a focal point for the majority of his future Hall of Fame career. Still, he doesn't feel he has anything left to prove.
"I don't need to show people anything," he said. "That's first off. Secondly, for myself, last year I think everybody had to take some takes on their own game and give a little bit for the betterment of [the team], and I did just that. I think [coach] Lionel [Hollins], from what I hear of his system, might fit me a little better just because it's a little parallel to the things we did up in Boston.
"But granted, my situation in [Jason Kidd's] system last year was what it was. I thought I made the proper adjustments to it when I had to. I really don't see myself as primary and that's just reality. But I still can give. I still have something to give to the game, to this team, and my mindset has always been to be better than I was last year or to be better than I was yesterday. So I'm not going to change that."
As far as his minutes are concerned, Garnett, who Hollins said will start at power forward, said, "Whatever the coach tells me to do, that's what I plan on doing."
He hopes to close out his career with two championships.
"I mean that's what we are playing for, right?" Garnett said. "I don't think no one is souped up to come in second. I don't think guys are coming in here to prepare to come in anything less than [first]. The reality part of that is probably something else, but the mindset has to be championship or nothing. At least mine is. So, yeah."
Asked about the departure of his longtime teammate Paul Pierce, Garnett said, "Actually, I was with him when all that was kind of going down, so I kind of had the inside. It was unfortunate, but it's still fortunate Paul's able to be in a great situation for he and his family. I wish him nothing but the best. But it's bittersweet."
Garnett also addressed Kidd leaving Brooklyn for Milwaukee.
"The only thing I'm going to say about the Jason Kidd situation is I enjoyed Jason while he was here," Garnett said. "I thought we had a great understanding and communication. I don't know what the hell was going on, like everybody else. So I don't really have any comment on it. It was unfortunate, because I see the two [sides].
"Whether you want to or not, Jason's a part of this history. He did a lot of good things for this organization. I just hope that doesn't get overshadowed with the current situation between the two. It was unfortunate. But I hope that he's in a better place. I hope he's happy. Obviously, he made the decision for whatever he felt was best for he and his family. And I wish him all the best."
Garnett had not spoken with reporters since May 14.
In other news, point guard Deron Williams, who underwent offseason surgery on both ankles, continues to improve.
"I don't think I'm 100 percent yet just because I've only had a month, but I'm pretty close," Williams said. "I'm still getting strength, still getting confidence on it, but I've played 5-on-5. I feel like I'm at least 20 percent better than I was all of last year, so that's good."
Center Brook Lopez, who underwent foot and ankle surgery, said he's "not looking for any restrictions" as far as his minutes or games are concerned.
Hollins said Williams is expected to be a full-go for training camp, which begins Saturday, but Lopez will not participate in both sessions of two-a-day practices.