City Sports Report

Kevin Garnett returns to where it all began

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By Jason Schott (Follow Jason on Twitter)

The Brooklyn Nets traded Kevin Garnett to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Thaddeus Young at the trade deadline on Thursday afternoon. Garnett waived his no-trade clause for this deal to be completed so he can return to his original team, the Timberwolves, whom he played for from 1995 to 2007.

Garnett waived his no-trade clause with the Boston Celtics to come to the Nets with Paul Pierce and Jason Terry in the blockbuster trade on June 27, 2013. The Nets sent the Celtics three first round draft picks, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphies, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans, and Kris Joseph. Remarkably, less than two seasons later, Wallace is the only active player left on either team. Of the three players the Nets received, Garnett lasted the longest, as Terry was traded a year ago at the trade deadline to Sacramento and Pierce signed with Washington in the offseason. With the three first round picks, plus all the cleared cap space from unloading Pierce and Garnett, the unquestioned winner of the trade is the Celtics.

Garnett brought the Nets what they wanted after they were outmuscled by the Chicago Bulls in the 2013 Playoffs, and that was toughness. The problem was that Garnett was a bit more passed his prime than Nets General Manager Billy King realized. From the start of the 2013-14 season, Garnett battled with Head Coach Jason Kidd over a minutes limit that Kidd instituted, in which KG would play no more than 20 minutes a game and sit one end of back-to-backs. Despite these measures, Garnett still missed the month of March with back spasms and was not himself for the playoffs. Current Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins kept the minutes limit in place and, at the end, would start Garnett, but not play him in the fourth quarter.

The appeal of this move to KG is that he can retire in Minnesota, but another benefit might be that they give him a contract for next season. Minnesota Head Coach Flip Saunders, who coached Garnett during his first stint out there, said of Garnett in November when they came in to play the Nets, “I tell you, the way he played the last game, he might play another four years, I don’t know. It’s interesting because we went through the amount of minutes that bigs play in our league, and if you look at the amount of people that have played in our league over 40, there’s a lot of people, and if you look at his minutes, what you have to do is, he came in at 19, most of these other guys came in at 22, so they played 9,000 more minutes just to start with because of college. So, when you look at the amount of minutes, he’s played a lot of minutes, but I think when you look at, say with Kareem and Karl Malone in that, if he’s played 10,000 less minutes than those guys, and that’s not even including what they did in college, so he may still have some tread on his tires.

“Everybody here that knows KG knows he’s gonna play until he feels that he can’t produce or he feels he’s not having fun doing it. He has great passion for the game, that’s what I always respected about him, and he’s gonna play as long as he continues to have that passion,” said Saunders.

Nets General Manager Billy King said in a statement on Thursday afternoon, “We are very pleased to add Thaddeus to our roster. He is a versatile, athletic forward who will provide us with added flexibility in our frontcourt rotation. In addition, I want to thank Kevin for his contributions over the past two seasons and wish him well in the future.”

This was the only move the Nets made at the deadline despite many rumors swirling around Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. As it stands now, the Nets will be going into the playoff push with “The Big 3″ of Lopez, Johnson, and Deron Williams intact, something that did not seem possible at times the past couple of months.

Garnett, a 6’11”, 220-pound power forward/center, is in his 20th NBA season and has registered career averages of 18.3 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.4 blocks in 35.1 minutes per game in 1,419 games, 1,382 of which are starts, with the Timberwolves, Celtics and Nets.

With the Nets, in 96 games, all of which were starts, Garnett posted averages of 6.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 20.4 minutes per game. In the 2013-14 season, Garnett played in 54 games and averaged 6.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 20.5 minutes-per-game. In 12 playoff games last season, Garnett posted averages of 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.3 assist in 20.8 minutes per game. This season, Garnett has averaged 6.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 20.3 minutes-per-game in 42 games.

Young (6’8”, 220) is in his eighth NBA season and has posted career averages of 13.8 points on 49.5 percent shooting, 5.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.4 steals in 30.4 minutes per game in 564 games (342 starts) with the Timberwolves and Philadelphia 76ers. This season in Minnesota, the 26-year-old Young has appeared in and started 48 games, averaging 14.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.8 steals (10th in the league) in 33.4 minutes per game. Prior to being acquired via trade by the Timberwolves in August 2014, Young spent the first seven seasons of his career with the 76ers, appearing in 516 games (294 starts) with Philadelphia from 2007-14. He posted averages of 13.7 points on 50.0 percent shooting, 5.5 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.4 steals in 30.1 minutes per game, including career-highs in points per game (17.9) and steals per game (2.1, third-best in the league) during his final season in Philadelphia (2013-14). Young also amassed 30 games (12 starts) of career postseason experience with the 76ers, posting playoff averages of 9.7 points and 5.0 rebounds in 26.4 minutes per game. Young was selected with the 12th pick of the 2007 NBA Draft as an early entrant candidate out of Georgia Tech by then-76ers president and current Nets GM King and earned All-Rookie Second Team honors in his debut season. In his lone season at Georgia Tech (2006-07), the New Orleans, La. native averaged 14.4 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 29.6 minutes per game in 31 games and helped lead the Yellow Jackets to a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

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