The signs of wear have been apparent for quite some time but the Brooklyn Nets took a chance anyway. And who could blame them given the plan that was in place when they acquired Kevin Garnett in the mega-deal over the summer that also “netted” them Paul Pierce and Jason Terry.
Garnett was acquired to be a veteran supporting piece who could thrive as a fourth/fifth option and help anchor a defense with his hustle and loud bark in the locker room.
But with 18 years in the league at age 37 with what is probably close to a zillion SportVU miles on his legs, it appears Garnett is truly closer to long walks on the beach in Malibu than to helping a team compete for a NBA championship.
So it would appear…
The Nets have done their best to limit his minutes throughout the season even in the wake of losing Brook Lopez and forcing Garnett to the dreaded center position. Garnett is averaging a career-low 21.7 minutes in his first and maybe only season in Brooklyn.
Still, father time cares not for the kid gloves placed on Garnett’s playing time and has plagued with him nagging injuries which now includes back spasms that has kept him sidelined since Feb. 27.
Head coach Jason Kidd has alluded that KG may not suit up for the rest of the regular season. Luckily for Brooklyn, they have played well without Garnett (13-4 currently) and are surging in many facets of their game which includes a push to win the Atlantic division.
Garnett’s absence has forced rookie center Mason Plumlee on to the NBA dance floor where he is gaining much needed experience. As a starter Plumlee is giving Brooklyn 37-year-old Garnett-like production with 7.4 points, six rebounds, and a block on 62 percent from the floor. Garnett is averaging 6.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and .7 blocks on just 43 percent shooting.
Similar production yes, but done in vastly different way and it remains to be seen how a guy like Plumee responds to playoff intensity. And that is what Garnett was brought in for.
It hasn’t been about the numbers for KG ever since being traded to Boston. It’s been about winning and having a championship mentality in everything he does.
Brooklyn can’t replace that and Kidd knows it as evidenced by recent comments where he said:
He’s played this game. It doesn’t change. If he gets to play before the playoffs, that’ll be great. If he gets to practice before the playoffs, that’ll be great. And if he had no practice or no games, for him being on the floor (in the playoffs) would help us dramatically. So however you look at it, him playing with us will help us.
Garnett is no longer a star statistically and that’s OK. His intangibles are what Brooklyn hopes will help them achieve something that is very real to the touch.
Father time is doing his best but the Nets know Garnett will go out on his shield shouting “grit and balls” fighting to play to help them make an improbable push for glory in June.