For a guy who just announced his retirement after 21 seasons as one of the NBA’s hardest working, most intense, two-way players ever, people sure seem to be in a hurry to put Kevin Garnett to work again.
Less than a week since Garnett reached a buyout and ruled out returning to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the 2016-17 season, Cleveland coach and KG pal Tyronn Lue was nudging him to join the Cavaliers staff. Doc Rivers, their boss during their time together in Boston a few years back, beat Lue to the punch — informally at least — when Garnett dropped by the Clippers’ training camp at UC-Irvine Thursday and spent time after the workout talking with Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and the squad’s other big men.
Pitches to lure Garnett back into uniform probably have come already and certainly will continue, considering how long, lean and in-basketball-shape Garnett looks, thanks to a fitness routine ingrained as habit and aching knees that only bark silently.
ICYMI: The Clippers were all ears as KG helped out at practice yesterday. https://t.co/s7lGZc9iVH pic.twitter.com/qX0uyNfmOM
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) September 30, 2016
“I thought he would’ve been the first player in NBA history to play in his teens, 20s, 30s and 40s,” Lue told reporters in Cleveland Thursday. “He just turned 40 in May. I just thought that would’ve been great for him.”
A plan that would have brought the Wolves’ longtime franchise face into an ownership role lies fallow for now, rendered uncertain by former coach and team president Flip Saunders’ death last October. Team owner Glen Taylor, who declined to comment for this story, hooked up with a pair of new minority owners in July and, truth be told, Saunders’ vision for Garnett was as much about Flip broadening his base and nurturing his own slice of the franchise for another decade or more.
Certainly, given his career basketball earnings in excess of $340 million (according to basketball-reference.com’s math) and many millions more from endorsements and outside opportunities, Garnett has the means to invest in an NBA franchise or pursue just about any other entrepreneurial opportunity that suits him.
This much we do know: It will come down to Garnett’s desires, maybe some restlessness and whatever level of hands-on involvement he truly seeks. He won’t be puttering around the house in Malibu or Minnesota, marking time till he dons an extra-extra-long blue vest and welcomes shoppers to the big-box store.
Athletes ‘die’ twice
Garnett’s first 19 years prepped him for what would follow, on the court and more so off, turning basketball into an escape and a calling for him while stoking a fire that would burn hotter, longer, than all but a handful of NBA legends past or present.
His next 21 were played out in public, Garnett pursuing and excelling at precisely — by physiology, by temperament — what his creator had in mind for him. He ended his playing career last week and started the clock on his Hall of