The Timberwolves should be working to get Kevin Garnett back in the fold at Target Center, and perhaps should consider an outside-the-box way of doing so.
As you may recall, Tom Thibodeau and Kevin Garnett have history together. On the 2008 Boston Celtics championship team, Thibs was an assistant coach. He was also the defensive guru behind their top-ranked defensive unit (98.9 rating) and #2-ranked opponent points per game at 90.3.
And who was the Defensive Player of the Year that season? Kevin Garnett, of course. Garnett had a defensive win share of 6.2 that season that ranked second in the NBA. He ranked third in defensive box plus/minus with a mark of 4.7. KG also had a defensive rating of 93.8, which ranked first in the league. To top it off, he ranked second in win shares per 48 minutes at .265.
Don’t forget — he knows Thibodeau’s defensive system. Thibs should strongly consider giving KG a position as an assistant coach for the Timberwolves. And why not? He’s only the Timberwolves’ greatest player.
It could be hard for Garnett and the Timberwolves organization to regain a good relationship because of the way things fell apart between them. Remember, Garnett was suppose to remain with the franchise as a minority owner, but after the death of Flip Saunders, things went in a different direction.
Also, Garnett did not appreciate the way the franchise honored Flip during his tribute. From CBS Sports:
"“How do you put a time limit on something like that?” Garnett said. “And then, too, I thought he wasn’t celebrated the proper way. You have high school banners, you have (expletive) hockey banners (hanging in the rafters). You couldn’t put a Flip banner in Target Center, some place that we helped build? … We established that market. I helped grow that with him. You can’t put him in the (rafters)?"
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"“So I just had problems with how they were shoving this down all of our throats. The young guys, they weren’t invested enough to really understand what was going on. I chose to be mute, to be professional and keep all the negative energy down. There was a bigger message I wanted to tell, but I supported it and just kept my mouth shut.”"
But not only can Garnett help the young Wolves reach the next level defensively, he can also teach the team everything he knows about the game. When it comes to sacrifice, trusting a system, trusting your teammates, providing help, being tough, and being smart, Garnett can teach them all of that. Garnett knows about those things where he went to Boston, playing with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen where he had to sacrifice his superstar numbers for the ultimate goal: a championship.
Garnett ended up getting his lone championship as well as grabbing up the DPOY award, showing that being invested in something bigger than yourself can pay off in the long run, accomplishing great things. Recently, Garnett has been helping young players like Giannis Antetokounmpo develop their game.
From JS Online:
"“I’ve talked to a lot of people, a lot of legends, but two of the guys that I really relate to, and I could see the fire in their eyes, were Kobe (Bryant) and KG,” Antetokounmpo said.“He said the ‘warrior mentality’ at least 200 times. I went there again and I was talking with Khris, and KG again said it 100 more times. He said without it you can’t be great in this league.”Garnett had watched some of Antetokounmpo’s game and offered a few words of advice.“He just told me to create a counter move and just trust my work ethic,” Antetokounmpo said. “He mentioned about a shimmy."
With Thibs and Garnett’s defensive minds and intense competitive nature, the Wolves can definitely make the leap to the next level. Garnett would probably be one of those coaches who can relate to the players, who the players can easily talk to.
Of course, there was this, from his (re)introductory press conference nearly two and a half years ago.
At the end of the day, there have been a lot of stories regarding Garnett’s disinterest in coaching. But it’s also hard to see a man of such a competitive nature completely ruling something like that out.
For the time being, let’s keep it on our collective radar as a somewhat realistic possibility.