Will the Timberwolves’ Kevin Garnett play again?

As the 2015-16 season winds down, Timberwolves fans are left wondering if they’ll get to see Kevin Garnett play again.

Garnett has not played a minute of basketball since January 23rd against the Memphis Grizzlies. As in, we haven’t seen Kevin Garnett in nearly two months.

Now, with only 17 games left play this season, have we seen the last of KG in 2015-16? Or perhaps, a better question, have we seen the last of Kevin Garnett altogether?

As for this season, I’m not sure that we’ll see Garnett again. He is dealing with a right knee ailment, and it’s worth noting that this is the same knee that kept him out of 25 games in 2008-09 when he was playing for Boston, as well as much of his post-trade time in Minnesota a year ago.

Garnett is older now, and I cannot imagine he wants to push it again this season, especially if he plans on suiting up next season.

In his absence, however, it is clear the Wolves are lacking the true leadership that Garnett provided on the floor. The fact that the Wolves bought out Andre Miller and that they continue to sit Tayshaun Prince does not help the issue of on-court leadership.

Obviously, Garnett is not the player he was — he was only averaging 3.2 points and 3.9 rebounds per game before he got injured. Despite his lack of per-game numbers, Garnett was still able to impress from an advanced statistics perspective.

He still holds the team lead in Defensive Box Plus-Minus with 2.4, and he is also still fourth on the team in total Box Plus-Minus at 0.1. In fact, he is only one of four players on the roster to have a positive BPM.

Additionally, Garnett is fifth on the team in Value Over Replacement Player. So, you could look at his per game stats and say he is no longer an asset to this team. However, after looking at some of the comprehensive advanced stats, it is clear he still holds some merit on this squad.

Lastly, ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus, which, in my opinion is one of the more accurate stats in determining a player’s value gives Garnett a plus 2.82. This is second on the team behind Ricky Rubio. It is also good enough for 40th best in the league, and ninth best among power forwards.

Garnett still has an impact on the Wolves’ total team defense, as pointed out by our friend William Bohl at A Wolf Among Wolves:

And in terms of individual defensive rating, Garnett is still first on the team with a rating of 105.

Garnett still holds value for the Timberwolves, at least in some capacity. Which brings me to my next point and that is answering the question as to if Garnett will play next season. As stated above I think it’d be smart for him to shut it down this season just as a precautionary measure.

In terms of next season, I do think Garnett will come back for what will be his 23rd campaign. If you recall, his contract does run through next season, and Garnett is the sort of guy that would fulfill his duties to the team; he’s not the sort of guy to just cop out and retire before his contract is up.

He still loves to play the game, and Garnett has said in past interviews that he would not retire until he stopped loving to play.

The crazy thing is, it seems inconceivable that Kevin Garnett would stop loving to play the game of basketball. KG still plays with the same fire as he did in 2004! He’s got too much pride and too much fire to just fall by the wayside. If Garnett goes out, it will be on his terms, not on his knees’ terms.

KG will turn 40 in roughly two months, and if he plays next season he’ll retire at 41, making him only the tenth player in NBA history to play past the age of 41. How much he has left to give after this most recent knee injury has yet to be seen, and we probably won’t find out till next season.

For now, I think we have to assume that Garnett will be returning next year, and the hopes of him purchasing a portion of the franchise may have to be put on hold for the time being.