The risky return of Kevin Garnett

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Be it Garnett jerseys or other paraphernalia celebrating the return of an icon, the marketing department should have a field day dreaming up ways to literally capitalize on this stunning development in an otherwise doleful season.

Less than six months ago, before he had played a single game for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Thaddeus Young sat in front of the team’s assembled beat writers and other media for the first time and delivered a few clichés about his competitive desire. “I’m an at-all-costs type of guy,” Young declared. “If it means tripping my grandmother up, I’ll go out there and do it just to win a basketball game. I’m sorry, Grandma.”

On Thursday, Young was traded to the Brooklyn Nets for a player who has become legendary for, among many other things, talking that kind of smack. But this player toils to transform such exaggerations into reality. He has walked the talk with a competitive mania drenched in sweat, one that has been poured into nearly every worthy accomplishment the Timberwolves franchise has ever achieved.

Welcome back, Kevin Garnett.

I’m not going to pretend to be objective about my feelings for KG. I covered the Wolves for each of the dozen seasons he played here. I watched a teenager who sweated and stumbled over cue cards for a radio station promo later hold the NBA trophy for Most Valuable Player over his head. In his prime, Garnett was the best defender I’ve ever witnessed, and my experience ranges from Bill Russell to Lebron James.

So when he walks to the corner of the arena opposite the home team bench, pounding his chest and roaring to the rafters before the opening tip, it’s going to feel like the return of a family member, the kind of goosebump moment that makes you grateful for your capacity for sensitive emotions.

But worthy analysis doesn’t have a lot in common with the sentimentality of Hallmark cards. My thoughts and feelings for Kevin Garnett are dominated by affection, loyalty and nostalgia. My thoughts and feelings about KG’s return to the Timberwolves in 2015 are a lot more complicated.

Sugar high

The most obvious result of acquiring Garnett for Young in a straight-up swap is the short-term benefit it brings to the Wolves bottom line. While it is true that KG’s $12 million salary is greater than the $9.2 million Young will earn this year, the season is nearly two-thirds completed, shaving the discrepancy down to the vicinity of a million dollars.

That will easily be eclipsed by the boost in attendance KG’s presence will engender in the 14 home games (out of 29 total) remaining on the team’s 2014-15 season schedule. Even tonight’s game against Phoenix had a spike in attendance (and ticket values on the resale sites), before it was announced that Garnett will not yet be available to suit up.

Be it Garnett jerseys or other paraphernalia celebrating the return of an icon, the marketing department should have a field day dreaming up ways to literally capitalize on this stunning development in an otherwise doleful season.

But the larger potential windfall happens on next year’s salary structure. While KG’s contract expires at the end of this season, Young had the option of either remaining with the Wolves next year at a salary of $9.7 million or becoming an unrestricted free agent. His four months playing for Minnesota was unsatisfying for both sides, so it is certainly possible he would have bolted. By making a deal earlier this month for power forward Adreian Payne and now trading the 26-year old Young for the 38-year old Garnett, the Wolves are acting like they believe Young was indeed headed out the door.

But purely from a financial standpoint, it makes more sense for Young to exercise the last year of his contract at that pretty lucrative $9.7 million rate and then pursue free agency in 2016-17, when the salary cap is expected to rise significantly for all NBA teams, increasing both the number of suitors and amount of money available. I think that’s what he will do regardless of the team holding the rights to his services.

In any case, Thursday’s trade ensures that the Wolves have greater certainty of a significantly lowered salary base going into next season.

As rumors of the trade spread through the morning on Thursday, my first reaction was that the Wolves were indulging a cynicism — reaping the hype and revenue of a 60-day return by the franchise’s lone conquering hero while slashing next season’s salary base. As an added “bonus,” because Garnett’s skills and playing time are much diminished due to age, acquiring him for Young would become a more colorful way for the Wolves to “tank” games and ensure a worse record in order to better position themselves for a quality draft pick this summer.

But in the hours since KG waived his no-trade clause and approved the move, it has become apparent that this deal may be aimed at a longer-term strategy, which brings a new set of complications.

Player, mentor … owner?

The first rumors to crop up about a KG return to Minnesota happened many months ago, in connection with him being part of a group that would buy the Wolves franchise from owner Glen Taylor. Since that time, the Los Angeles Clippers have been sold for a whopping $2 billion and media contracts to air the NBA have been extended with an exorbitant raise in rates, generating a coming tsunami of cash and boosting the value of even unsuccessful franchises out in the frozen tundra to heights nobody could have anticipated.

Consequently, after courting offers for the team three years ago, Taylor is no longer in a hurry to sell — on the contrary, he shrewdly bought out some disgruntled minority owners shortly before the boom.

For a billionaire, however, Taylor does have a notoriously provincial streak, especially when it comes to loyalty and past relationships. He has a history of waiting far too long to fire coaches and general managers, and even then does so with anguished reluctance.

It was thus not totally surprising that Taylor brought back Flip Saunders, who was let go as coach in 2005, to become president of basketball operations in 2013. More than that, Saunders got Taylor to provide him with a small ownership stake in the franchise and, after a year’s time, talked Taylor into allowing him to become head coach as well as POBO.

Now consider the scenario facing Garnett on Thursday. He is three months shy of his 39th birthday, wrapping up his 20th NBA season on the final year of another massive contract. He hears that if he waives his no-trade clause, he can return to the franchise he led to its only playoff appearances — eight straight! — while garnering an MVP award.

Not only that, it is a franchise where the personnel, the playbook and a tiny chip of the ownership are being handled by his old coach from that era, Flip Saunders. The lead assistant coach is Sam Mitchell, the player who was a significant mentor to him during his first few years in the NBA. And the owner is Glen Taylor, someone with whom he’s clashed in the past, but who obviously has a soft spot for him — and who, at age 73, owns the dominant stake of the franchise KG covets (and has already stated that none of his heirs have intense interest in the Wolves going forward).

Kevin Garnett waived the no-trade clause. And according to reports from both the Associated Press and Star Tribune writers who cover the team, negotiations have begun on securing Garnett’s playing services with the Wolves for another two seasons after this one.

He’s back. And it could be for a very long time.

KG on the court

Before we get into the real meat-and-potatoes of KG’s risks and rewards — his impact on team chemistry — let’s start with his on-court contributions, which are the easiest things to predict.

The positive, as always with Garnett, is defense. Only four players in NBA history have played more regular-season minutes than KG, yet he is still spry and savvy enough to dramatically improve what has been the worst team defense in NBA history (in terms of opponents’ effective field goal percentage) this season.

Indeed, according to the stats compiled at nba.com, when it comes to “defensive real plus/minus” (DRPM) which factors in the caliber of your teammates on the court in determining value in a team’s defense, Garnett ranks 17th out of all NBA players, with a DRPM of plus 3.36 points per 100 possessions. Even with a minus -1.44 points per 100 possessions on his offensive real plus/minus (ORPM), that defensive excellence still gives KG a great overall real plus/minus (RPM) than anyone on the Wolves (ironically, Thad Young was the team RPM leader before being dealt).

Garnett is one of the most intelligent defenders to ever play the game, a genius at closing angles to the basket for the player he is guarding and arguably the best communicator of on-the-fly defense in the NBA. That is sweet elixir for a Wolves team that has precious little communication and little clue of how to help each other. He is also a superb rebounder on the defensive glass — a nice complement to Nikola Pekovic, who excels on the offensive boards — but is overrated as a rim protector, preferring to deny his man low-post position rather than try and block shots.

Last, but hardly least, Garnett is a rugged and, especially as he ages, borderline dirty defender when it comes to denying the ball or the bucket to the opponent. He has a mean streak born of a competitive zeal that is truly alien to most everyone on the Wolves with the possible exception of Ricky Rubio.

Given that the Wolves are down to a pair of second-year power forwards (Anthony Bennett and center-power forward Gorgui Dieng) who have little conception of how to play the position, along with untested rookie Adriean Payne, KG will be a glorious mentor teaching low-post defense.

So what’s not to love: availability and offense. Gone are the days when Garnett can partake in back-to-back games, and the ones he does play usually tax him out after about 20 minutes.

On offense, Garnett has the profile of a middling small forward. Incredibly, more than half of his shots this season have come from the area 16 feet out to the three-point line. He remains an above-average marksman from that distance — 47.8 percent. But having your seven-footer launching long two-pointers is an inefficient offensive tactic in the modern NBA, though (unfortunately) it’s right in Saunders’ wheelhouse.

Otherwise, KG is a relatively poor shooter in the restricted area near the hoop (50 percent), from 3-10 feet away (40 percent) and from three-point range (16.7 percent).

The risks and rewards of KG’s indelible stamp

Anyone who thinks that Garnett will be a minor presence, a prototypical “veteran mentor” and mere “chemistry tweak” on the Wolves roster doesn’t know him. For better or worse, his acquisition will mean a volatile change in the team’s standard operating procedure.

It was Flip Saunders who provided me with the best definition of chemistry in the NBA that I have ever heard. Chemistry, the coach confided more than a decade ago, is all about establishing a pecking order that allows the players to recognize and settle into their proper roles on the team.

Okay, so the Wolves have just brought in a revered icon on his last legs whose vices and virtues are inextricably bound up in a competitive mania for the game that has made him one of the more polarizing presences in the league. It should come as no shock that as Garnett’s skills have eroded and the twilight of his career has approached, he has not mellowed nor accepted his inevitable fate. Instead, he has ratcheted up his already white-hot intensity, to the point where his customarily incessant trash talk has occasionally morphed into goofy moves like blowing in the ear of David West or pretending to bite the arm of Joakim Noah.

So where is this guy — with a possible two-year deal allowing him to play into his 40s and designs on franchise ownership twirling in his head — going to fit in the pecking order? Where should he fit?

It is easy to speculate but impossible to know what his impact will be on the nine players on the Wolves roster with two years or less of NBA experience. I enjoy the idea of Garnett lighting a fire under Anthony Bennett, whose inconsistency needs to be resolved or identified as unworthy of further investment; or Zach LaVine, who is in many respects the opposite of Garnett when it comes to absorbing team play and prioritizing skill sets.

But how does the heat of Garnett interact with the cool of Andrew Wiggins, the next superstar whose development needs to be the top priority of this franchise? How will they get along next year, or the year after, as Wiggins assumes a more subtle kind of leadership in his inimitable way? And what happens if either Garnett or Wiggins opt for a pecking order showdown?

But the biggest risk in terms of pecking order would seem to be Garnett and Ricky Rubio. Consider that Rubio has been playing professionally since the age of 14. He came over as a much-ballyhooed rookie four years ago and — after an auspicious half season in his rookie year — suffered a devastating knee injury. His second year was spent recovering his mobility and trying to absorb the welter of other injuries that beset the team, most significantly to Kevin Love. His third year found him in a passive-aggressive feud with coach Rick Adelman that had him benched in favor of J.J. Barea for a majority of the team’s fourth quarter minutes. Meanwhile, most of the ink spilled in his direction concerned his historically inaccurate shooting rather than the fact he led the NBA in total steals and was second in total assists.

This year, Love was gone and a fat four-year contract was signed. Ricky Rubio was the unquestioned leader of the franchise. Then, five games into the season, he severely sprained his ankle and lost nearly three months, during which time the Wolves demonstrated how much they missed him.

Returning in early February, Rubio flashed an improved shooting stroke and again showed his inspirational leadership on the court. The Wolves are 4-6 when he plays and 7-36 when he doesn’t. And yet, five games into his return, the Wolves trade for Kevin Garnett.

If there is a dominant theme to this entire, crazy season, it is that Flip Saunders is running the show and is unafraid to shake things up. Saunders loves the Garnett acquisition. In a late night press conference announcing the deal on Thursday, he said that KG’s contributions would be more valuable to the team than the first-round draft pick Minnesota forfeited this summer in order to acquire Young. And he said that Garnett “will be really good for Ricky.”

Saunders’ track record has been decent thus far. And there is no question that he is positioning this team not just for playoff contention, but as a team that can win it all. Assuming that Garnett hits all the right buttons in the locker room and on the court while interacting with his team, and assuming the Wolves pick up an elite prospect in the coming draft, there is a very high ceiling in play.

But the floor is a potentially painful thud of lost opportunity. How much chaos is too much chaos?

Amid the hubbub, one truth stands out like a beacon: Flip Saunders has become pretty much irreplaceable as coach until, for glory or doom, this thing is hashed out. 

Comments (25)

  1. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 02/20/2015 - 11:30 am.

    Inside Looking Out

    Britt, I hope you are as good of a psychologist as you are a basketball analyzer. There’s nothing you mentioned in KG’s makeup that suggests he will settle into a mentor role for the people who need mentors while giving ground to those who don’t. We give up a first rounder for a locker room presence with the potential to mess up any “chemistry” that may have existed. Will he subvert Flip in order to assert his dominance? Will the young guys fear him at first and then come to resent him, considering how little he’ll offer on the floor? Things won’t be the same for Wiggins, Bennett and Lavine, but will they get better because of KG’s presence. Seems like Flip is saying he needs help in the locker room more than on the floor.

    • Submitted by Greg Kerkvliet on 02/20/2015 - 03:01 pm.

      the “gave up a first rounder” thing has to stop

      First of all, that pick was not only for Thad but to dump Mbah a Moute and Shved on the Sixers, a team that refused to also take JJ and was asking for a 1st to take on Budinger’s deal earlier this season. Second, Thad played 60% of his season here; that’s not invalidated because he won’t be finishing it. 50 games of Thad and 20 of KG is not at all the same as a full season of KG.

    • Submitted by Erick Sorenson on 02/20/2015 - 04:18 pm.

      The difference (hopefully) is

      You have to hope that KG knows what’s needed of him and where he is in his career. It would be silly to assume that the help KG got from TP, Mitchell, McHale, Saunders, etc. when he was young and impressionable is lost on him. Or that he isn’t coming into this situation with eyes wide open about how he can pay it forward now.

      Demanding accountability from teammates doesn’t have to be a negative thing. I’ve always thought Garnett was a classic example of “the guy you love on your team but hate playing against.” What specifically about his past leads one to believe he’d tarnish his reputation (as a pathologically competitive, talented and hard-working future first-ballot HOFer) by subverting a coach and alienating teammates? He hasn’t been the clear-cut best player on his team since he left MN and he won’t be now, nearly a decade later. Do you really think he doesn’t get that?

      I’m optimistic about KG’s ability to positively affect this team on and off the court. Garnett is not only a student of the game but also someone who respects its history. I would bet with certainty that knows more about what’s needed in an NBA locker room than any of us, that’s for sure.

  2. Submitted by Greg Kerkvliet on 02/20/2015 - 11:48 am.

    I have nothing to add about the good/bad of this

    Everything was spelled out. The Wizards game was part of my partial ticket package, and I saw a similar seat on secondary markets for 5x what I paid in October. It’ll be nice to be part of a big crowd that’s full of Wolves fans (and not 1/3 fans of the opponent) and energetic for a reason other than booing an opponent.

    The minutes thing mainly becomes a problem if Bennett, Payne, Bjelica (if he comes over), or their top draft pick don’t seize the big minutes at that spot. It makes some sense to have a mentor at that position who doesn’t require major minutes, and as has been pointed out, Young’s leadership was questionable, anyway. I could see KG really helping Dieng, who’s the only young player that’s shown any surliness about the team losing so much. He also provides an actual PF who can play C, which they didn’t have before and could use if Pek misses time again this season.

    There is a lot of “hope for the best” in this move. When it comes to Wiggins and Rubio, all we have to go by are Rajon Rondo and Mason Plumlee, because he’s played with such veteran-laden teams. Plumlee has spoken highly of him, and Rondo had his best seasons with KG. I’ve never been thrilled that Mitchell is on the staff, but he seems to serve a purpose in this case because KG would listen to him if his influence becomes less than positive. If looking on the bright side, it could help increase Wiggins’ defensive intensity and focus while also turning Rubio into less of a flopper on defense and a guy who plays with more controlled energy.

  3. Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 02/20/2015 - 11:59 am.

    The more things change,

    the more they stay the same. This is a sentimental move. It won’t make the T-Wolves or Andrew Wiggins any better.

  4. Submitted by Anton Schieffer on 02/20/2015 - 12:40 pm.

    Loving this move

    Not sure what to say right now, other than Kevin Garnett is the right person to bring into our locker room. His fiery, passionate play is one thing that this team has been lacking. This late in the season, it’s important for our guys to keep playing hard, despite not making the playoffs. Ricky’s return put a bit of a bounce in everyone’s step, and I hope KG’s infectious energy will have a similar, sustained impact.

    But what I’m really looking forward to is his defensive presence. Our team is simply uncommunicative on the defensive end. I don’t care if it’s for just 15 minutes a night, KG is going to make sure that people hear him, and that chatter on the defensive end is essential, especially for a young team still learning how to play at this level. I really hope that rubs off on our young guys.

    I don’t like saying things like, “the Timberwolves have needed a strong locker room vet for awhile” because it’s not really fair to players like Ricky who have and will continue to step up and take ownership of this situation. But KG’s vocal style should serve as a frequent reminder to players who coast: you’re not welcome on this team if you’re not putting in work.

    Also, my hunch is that Garnett’s offensive numbers improve a bit here. Familiarity with Flip’s system on both ends of the court is going to be useful, and is one additional reason I strongly approve of this move.

  5. Submitted by Sean Olsen on 02/20/2015 - 12:58 pm.

    What we’ve seen with the last two trades, I think, is Flip the coach taking preeminence over Flip the GM. He’s acquired two players he likes and has a comfort level with (KG based on experience, and Payne based on his relationship with Izzo), and done so in a way that many people would think is not an optimal use of assets.

    Having KG return beyond this season creates problems of its own with a lot of money and bodies already lined up at the 4/5 spots with the prospects of adding Okafor or Towns in the draft and bringing Bjelica over from Europe.

    I too have concerns about how KG fits into the locker room. The parallel between this situation and having Mitchell and Porter there in 1995 are obvious, but not the same. Mitchell and Porter were able to be contributors at a far more consistent level than KG will be. Combined, Mitchell and Porter missed a total of five games in the three years they played together here from 1995-96 to 1997-98 and they played 20 minutes a game or more in that span.

    This year’s KG has played less than 24 minutes in about 2/3 of his games this year, and it’s not going to get better if he hangs on for two more years. To develop the chemistry that Saunders wants, Rubio and Wiggins need to be — encouraged (ahem!) by KG — but also given the freedom to establish themselves at the top of the pecking order, not to be nitpicked at every turn by the 9th man (or a guy who may be wearing a suit instead of a uniform frequently in 2015-16 and 2016-17).

    That said, KG is my favorite player ever, and I will greatly enjoy seeing him in a Timberwolves uniform again. Why is it only the teams in this town that make reunions such as these come with so many nagging questions?

  6. Submitted by Jerry Gale on 02/20/2015 - 01:00 pm.

    Pecking order

    I have read a number of analysis about the Garnett trade and Britt’s is the best, which comes as no surprise to anyone who has read him for a while. I especially liked two of your comments. The first is about “lighting a fire under Anthony Bennett.” I assume that you mean that literally.

    The second comment is about the pecking order being team chemistry. I had never heard that concept before and it makes sense. Can Garnett adjust to not being the Alpha dog on the court when the success of this franchise is in the hands of Rubio and Wiggins? I always thought that Garnett was a punk and bully. Hopefully he has matured some.

  7. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 02/20/2015 - 01:22 pm.

    Not a fan of the aging KG

    I hope Wiggins does not turn into a “young or old KG.” There are some things to learn from KG, but many things should be avoided as well.

  8. Submitted by Adam Gerber on 02/20/2015 - 02:44 pm.

    Solid Analysis

    The longer you have followed the wolves, the more Britt’s take will jive with you. Well said, Britt.

    Other commentary on the trade has bemoaned the loss of an asset in Young and harangued the poor management. I think Young was a failed proposition, but one that was a worthy gamble in the first place. There was a real chance he was going to be a better mentor and on-court fit. The wolves probably wanted the salary flexibility next year, and didn’t want to risk either paying Young, or having him walk for nothing. What’s more, Young’s salary (relative to his output) and termination option prevent him from being traded easily or traded for valuable assets. This move gives the wolves more cap flexibility, a shot at having a really good locker room influence/on-court mentor, and lots of good will. Britt’s point about somebody on this team FINALLY holding the other players accountable for their defensive positioning and communication promises to be the biggest upside.

    I see the logic here, but ultimately this trade happened because of the failed thad experiment. I can’t begin to tease out why that experiment failed… there’s lots of blame to go around. For now, I will just enjoy the return of KG.

    • Submitted by Mark Ohm on 02/21/2015 - 07:45 pm.

      Garnett vs. Young

      Using the Wins Produced per 48 (WP/48) metric from Box Score Geeks shows the following for this season:

      Garnett: 1.62
      Average player 1.0
      Young: 0.19

      Young produced the equivalent of .6 wins over 1600 minutes.
      Garnett totaled 2.9 wins over 850 minutes.
      It’s likely that replacement of Young’s minutes by Bennett/Dieng/Garnett/and whomever will actually be an improvement over Young.
      Garnett is more effective as a 4 at his age, but played a lot of 5 over his previous two seasons, where he was not as effective and his Wins Produced score slipped below average. When he plays the 4 like this season he appears to be more effective.

  9. Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 02/20/2015 - 07:47 pm.

    Unlike Tim Duncan,

    Kevin Garnett has not performed in the role of an aging superstar well. I don’t see him mentoring Andrew Wiggins. This is about KG and KG only. He is the “Big Man on Campus” here. When he goes elsewhere he is just another 6’11 has been” basketball player. He agreed to be traded back here because nobody else wanted him. His best days are way behind him.

    Will Latrell Spreewell be next?

    • Submitted by Greg Kerkvliet on 02/21/2015 - 01:29 pm.

      Oh, so much of this is wrong

      If he’d asked for a buyout, he’d have been snapped up quickly. The Clippers wanted him, for one, and he’s a rotation big for any playoff team. The Cavs are about to sign Kendrick Perkins, several teams wanted 36-year-old Jermaine O’Neal even though he’s not playing (and he recently ruled out playing), and the Mavs signed Amare Stoudemire; even at 38, KG is as good as or better than them (and he’s 6 years older than Stoudemire).

      It’s hilarious that anyone would accuse KG of being selfish or a has-been. He’s the most loyal superstar in NBA history and one of the best at doing the little things to help a team win. He’s missed the playoffs 3 times in 19 seasons (about to be 4 in 20). His play started dropping off at age 37. There are only 40 players in NBA history to average more than 20 minutes per game at age 37 and older; so what if his productivity at that age is more similar to Ray Allen or Jason Kidd than Duncan or Karl Malone?

  10. Submitted by Bruce Schulzetenberg on 02/21/2015 - 06:53 am.

    End game

    Is it possible to take this ownership angle a bit further? Taylor, at his age and maybe for estate purposes, is looking for a buyer of the team. I also assume KG is serious in wanting buy the team.

    So what better way to keep a serious, potential buyer interested and close at hand than to employ him and up the potential buyer’s emotional investment?

    It the latter is true, then the deal looks like an acceptable risk for Taylor and for him, moves the discussion beyond mentoring, and use of player and draft choice assets. KG may be $1 billion in liquid assets for Taylor and he has an exit from ownership that pleases fans, the media, and the league. So all the hand-wringing over undervaluing Thad Young as a trade asset then seems like merely counting coins.

  11. Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 02/21/2015 - 04:59 pm.

    What bothers me….

    about the Timberwolves is that they never make a play for any high profile players.

  12. Submitted by Josh Lease on 02/22/2015 - 06:16 pm.

    part of the problem

    injuries really derailed what this team could have been capable of, and that capacity is why they made the deal for Thad Young in the first place. Management felt that with a legitimate PF on the roster, they could compete for a playoff spot, and after a gazillion years in the wilderness, that was a reasonable franchise goal. And no an unreasonable expectation seeing what they’ve been doing now that Rubio is finally back.

    Unfortunately, a major rash of injuries coincided with Thad’s collapse as a player; instead of being a solid stretch 4 would could provide energy and skill on defense as well he floated through his time. I suspect he would opt out after this season and sign a 1 year deal with someone in the offseason on something of a make-good deal to set himself up for a bigger payday. So we ended up with a less-than-great result from the deal for Thad.

    but one of the things that we have also learned is that this team is pretty disorganized on defense, with younger players that have shown flashes of ability but no real knowledge of how to operate in a team concept. Dieng has shown some flashes, Wiggins clearly can get it done, LaVine has the athleticism to be great if he wants it…but none of them really know how to play good team defense. KG could be a tremendous help there, teaching players not just how to play defense, but how to organize it.

    I’m not hugely worried about chemistry issues. Players want to play with him even now and his time in Boston showed his ability to help put together a team. remember, that was Paul Pierce’s team, and even after KG and Ray Allen joined, it was still Pierce’s team. KG adjusted to them even though he was still an elite player at the time.

    They’re still going to struggle for the rest of this season, but they’ll be fun and interesting to watch (and as long as Rubio stays healthy they’ll be competitive). But this team should be in a position to take a major leap forward next season…pending some reasonable health and the right move to fill in the pieces around guys like Rubio, Wiggins, Dieng, and Muhammed.

    • Submitted by Jeff Germann on 02/23/2015 - 03:39 pm.

      Defense…

      I get why we would bring KG back so we can teach some of the young players about HOW to play defense and what is required. But at the same time…doesn’t that scream of a lack of accountability of the coaching staff to implement those things? Why should we have to use what essentially amounted to a first round pick on bringing in a player to show people how to play defense? Seems like hiring Mike Malone would have been much cheaper and potentially better in the long run.

      Speaking of…this deal cements that Flip will be coaching as long as KG is on the team. I would really love it if they DID go out and hire Malone as assistant head coach (in waiting) for next year so the defensive commitment would come from KG on the floor and with some superior coaching.

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