What if … Minnesota Timberwolves hadn’t alienated Kevin Garnett

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Minnesota Timberwolves Kevin Garnett

Minnesota Timberwolves Kevin Garnett. Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

What would’ve happened had the Minnesota Timberwolves had taken the correct steps after Flip Saunders’ death and avoided angering Kevin Garnett in the process?

Right before the beginning of the 2016-17 NBA season, Kevin Garnett retired from the Minnesota Timberwolves; the team that drafted him, the team he’d only just rejoined a season and a half earlier.

At the time, there were some rumblings that the retirement was due to some disagreements with the ownership, i.e. Glen Taylor, but Occam’s razor suggests the real reason was a mix of age, injuries and a struggling team. Still, it was fairly suspicious that he retired right before the start of training camp.

Then, in late 2017, Garnett cleared the air about some of his grievances, saying:

How they was doing Sam [Mitchell], how they fired Sam on the day of a game, you don’t do that. You don’t do that … And you know what? There’s certain things that I was taught in this league — professionalism, loyalty, those things taught to me by the league, that’s what kind of person I am, I felt a certain way. So I started to take the steps to remove myself.

The quote referring to how team owner Glen Taylor decided to drastically shift away from the vision of general manager Flip Saunders after his untimely death in 2015. The decision angered Garnett and has been reported as one reason that he didn’t stay around after that season, as well as why he hasn’t assumed some sort of ownership role with the franchise.

Barring Taylor selling the team, it’s unlikely that will happen at any point.

But what would the Timberwolves look like if Taylor hadn’t gone a different way? What would have happened if Garnett had stayed in good graces with Minnesota? Now that Garnett has been nominated for the Hall of Fame, it’s a fair time to ask these questions.

In the second installment of my “What If…” series, I try to answer them.

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