It was last summer when Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov proclaimed that “the basketball gods smiled on the Nets,” following their acquisition of future Hall of Famers Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce from the Boston Celtics. Despite sacrificing the future giving up their 2014, 2016, and 2018 first-round draft picks and the right to swap draft picks in 2017, the goal of winning an NBA title now was more attainable.
Both players were expected to be the perfect complementary pieces for Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. With their new starting lineu,p Brooklyn clinched the sixth seed of the playoffs, but was blown out in the Eastern Conference Semifinals by the Miami Heat.
Garnett declined to talk about his future endeavors following the Nets’ playoff exit in Game 5 at the American Airlines Arena. However, according to Tim Bontemps of the New York Post, it looks like Garnett will make one final run at a championship with Brooklyn.
Still, all indications have been — despite the drop in production this season — Garnett will be back in Brooklyn for what would be the 20th season of his stellar NBA career. The fact is $12 million is an awful lot of money – no matter how much you’ve made in the past – and after playing much, much better over the final few months of the season, it would be easy to see Garnett agreeing to rejoin Pierce for one final season in Brooklyn before riding off into the sunset next summer.
While it would be nice to see Garnett clinch another Larry O’Brien Trophy before retiring, experiencing career lows in points and rebounds could determine his decision in returning to Brooklyn for his 20th season.
It didn’t help that first-year head coach Jason Kidd elected to keep Garnett’s playing time to around 20 minutes a game. The only time in which the 38-year-old saw playing time exceeding 30 minutes was during a triple-overtime contest in January against the Heat. Kidd also had Garnett sit out for half of the Nets’ 20 back-to-back games this season, which contributed greatly to his limited production. Appearing in a career-low 54 games, Garnett averaged 6.5 points and 6.6 rebounds a game on 44 percent shooting; statistics that haven’t dipped that low since his rookie season back in 1995.
Another factor contributing to Garnett’s future seasons concerns whether his teammate Paul Pierce returns to Brooklyn or leaves for another championship contender. Garnett even considered retiring last offseason before he and Pierce were traded to the Nets.
“Absolutely, because I didn’t know Paul’s situation and where the Celtics were,” Garnett said to Cameron McDonough of NESN.com back in July. “Paul’s a huge part of playing together and accomplishing things, which makes this thing kind of bittersweet. We’re leaving one chapter and opening another.”
Given that Brook Lopez is scheduled to come back in full health from a fractured right foot which sidelined him for most of this season, we expect to see Garnett come off the bench for the first time since Jan. 27, 1995, against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. This is because of the success Brooklyn had while using a small-ball lineup and Garnett ‘s inability to play at the power forward position, resulting in his switch in position to backup center.
Garnett is also entering his final year of the three-year, $36 million contract he signed back in 2012. Sacrificing $12 million seems a lot for a player that is expected to see more time siting on the bench than on the court.
Zach Libby covers the Brooklyn Nets for Hoops Habit