There were some curious turns of phrase from Kevin Garnett on Wednesday night. In the wake of an exhausting 71-69 victory over the Chicago Bulls, one that saw Garnett make a number of clutch plays on both ends down the stretch, the future Hall of Famer and 15-time All-Star appeared to say that this Sunday’s All-Star Game is “definitely my last,” before somewhat backtracking and offering a few vague comments about his future with both the Boston Celtics, and the All-Star game.
This could be in reference to a potential summer retirement, an attempt to point out that his days of playing All-Star level ball are over, a hint that Garnett might co-incidentally suffer from “knee tendinitis” in the days leading up to future All-Star games and skip the weekend to rest, or it could just be a slip of the tongue. Either way, it’s worth glomming onto.
After being asked to clarify his thoughts, and after the subject of Garnett’s contract (which runs into 2015, if the Celtics decide to pick up KG’s 2014-15 part of the deal) was brought up, Garnett (“realizing he had just set off an alarm,” according to the Boston Herald’s Mark Murphy), either tried to hedge, obfuscate, or both. From the Herald:
“This is definitely my last All-Star Game,” he said. “Ya’ll don’t know what I know. I’m more than grateful, and I’m not going to act like I have more All-Star Games in me. I’ll enjoy this one with friends and family. That’s what I meant.”
Garnett added he simply plans to enjoy himself this weekend.
“I’ll have no feelings whatsoever,” he said when asked about Sunday. “I always enjoyed each All-Star Game. I’m not a guy who is going to show too much emotion at that time. The All-Star Game for me is more for friends and family. You always have that wild-assed uncle who shows his ass, you always have that friend you always have to pull to the side and have that little conversation (with). It’s a fun time.”
It’s always been a fun time, every time, in the years since a 20-year old KG was picked as an injury replacement for the 1997 All-Star game. Despite his current image as a dour, glare-y sort of brooder, KG was an effusive, youthful and much-needed presence on a mid-1990s team that needed the shot in the arm. So much has changed since that trip, for all involved, and yet Garnett has been an All-Star fixture in every year that the NBA decides to put the game on.
This is weary talk, there’s no way around it. Garnett’s team is in the middle of an impressive turn of basketball, winning eight times in nine tries and just about signing off on the idea that these veterans will make the playoffs in 2013 and that no major shakeups will be necessary in the wake of Rajon Rondo’s knee injury. With that in place, Derrick Rose’s careful comeback from his ACL tear, and the thought of Rondo not being back to full strength for most of 2013-14 might be looming large in KG’s noggin – especially after just holding an injured and weary Bulls team to 69 points.
Rondo could return earlier than Rose will, though, due to the difference in severities of their ACL tears. And both Garnett and Paul Pierce are under contract for next season. Does the “y’all don’t know what I know” mean Garnett is thinking about the scorched earth treatment for Boston during this upcoming offseason – KG gives money back and retires from the grind, while the Celtics pass on guaranteeing the team option on Paul Pierce’s 2013-14 contract while the team starts over with oodles of cap space?
Isn’t that a reach? Definitely. Then again, we don’t know what he knows.
More likely is the idea that Garnett thinks he either won’t play enough minutes to garner All-Star consideration as an All-Star reserve next season, or that the fans will look to new blood and decline to vote him in as a starter. Unless something falls off badly, it’s likely that KG will still come-through with All-Star level per-minute production and All-Defensive team mettle in 2013-14, so this could just be an older player grouching along.
Or, he might just conjure up one of his various aches and pains – he’ll be 37 with probably over 54,000 combined regular season and playoff minutes under his belt by next year’s All-Star break – and find a way to rest at home instead of heading to the Big Noise.
As Rohrbach points out, the dude is tired. And now he’s got to go to Houston. From WEEI:
Celtics coach Doc Rivers gave Garnett the option of sitting out the 71-69 win over the Bulls, but he refused.
"I should have took that [expletive]," said Garnett, who notched his 15th double-double of the season — and sixth in the C's recent 8-1 stretch — with 12 points and 11 rebounds in just 26 minutes against Chicago. "But I've seen everybody playing through everything, and I'm no different from that. Paul [Pierce] is tired, everybody's tired, and no one's full of energy right now, so I felt like that was unfair.
This, and not the potential $24.4 million left on his deal, is why we anticipate Garnett fully suiting up for both the 2014 and 2015 All-Star games. Da Kid is now Da Gamer, and the only things that don’t appreciate his approach at this point are Garnett’s aching knees.