Kevin Garnett returned to the Timberwolves in a flurry, whisked away from a Brooklyn team on its way to the bottom to make his unexpected Minnesota homecoming. The transaction – flipping 26-year-old Thad Young for the aging, achy-kneed KG – was met with shock, and then utter joy. The next day, fans flocked to renew their season tickets. The night of his return, the Target Center was as loud and raucous as it had been in nearly a decade.
As exciting and surprising as it was to see him return, the end of his second stint with the Wolves may be reaching its prolonged, melancholy, somewhat predictable conclusion:
Minnesota and Kevin Garnett are in advanced discussions on a buyout expected to end KG’s second stint with the Wolves, league sources say.
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) September 22, 2016
Stein elaborated a bit further in this article, stating that it’s the belief of many that Garnett will, in fact, call it a career once the team and his representatives settle the terms of his buyout. (KG has one year remaining on his deal for $8 million.)
Considering the way Sam Mitchell’s departure was handled, along with many others on the coaching staff and in the front office (many of whom KG was close to), this isn’t much of a surprise. Glen Taylor recently told Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune that he and Garnett hadn’t spoken in “weeks.” There are whispers that Garnett and new head coach and President of Basketball Operations Tom Thibodeau aren’t exactly on the friendliest terms. Even putting all that aside, Garnett was limited to just 43 games over his season and a half with the team, sidelined by chronic knee troubles. The team was effective with him on the court, but no observer could doubt he was a shell of his former self. It was probably time.
As predictable as tonight’s news may be, the idea that Garnett’s second stint with the team could end on anything less than harmonious terms is incredibly sad. While he wasn’t on the floor much last season, he was a vocal teacher on the bench, and (almost assuredly) an even more important mentor to the Wolves’ young players behind the scenes. It’s hard not to wonder if things would be different if Flip Saunders hadn’t passed away; he seemed to be the glue holding the tenuous KG-Taylor relationship together. Alas…
We’ll have much, much more on this in the coming days, especially when the news becomes official. Until then, let’s all just soak in our feelings, and prepare ourselves to say “good bye” to the most important player in Minnesota basketball history.