Kevin Garnett retired just before this season started, after 21 years in the NBA. He spent 12 of those with the Minnesota Timberwolves before decamping for Boston and Brooklyn. Garnett eventually returned to Minnesota to finish up his career, mentor the team’s stockpile of young players, and theoretically transition into a front office role of some kind. It made plenty of sense: He put the Timberwolves on the map and the team’s existing braintrust wasn’t exactly irreplaceable.
However, that all went to shit after then-coach Flip Saunders died in October 2015. Saunders was team president when he brought KG back in 2015. He had discussed making Garnett a minority owner. After Saunders died, owner Glen Taylor moved the franchise in a new direction, firing KG ally Sam Mitchell and hiring Tom Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden into freshly vacated positions. Instead of sliding into the front office, Garnett got bought out of the final year of his contract and went to TNT to do some TV work. He opened up to the Associated Press’ Jon Krawczynski this afternoon about his desire to keep playing in the NBA as well as his ugly breakup with the Wolves.
Garnett said he had problems with the way the the team honored Saunders’ memory. Saunders mentored Garnett in the early stages of his career and the two were very close. Garnett took specific issue with the video tribute that the team made for Saunders, a tribute Garnett was absent from because he says he was too emotional to be a part of:
One glaring absence was Garnett, who said he “couldn’t put a lifetime of friendship into three minutes.”
“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)?
“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.”
It seems as if Garnett and Taylor don’t have much of a relationship at all, and it’s unclear how serious Taylor ever was about making KG a minority owner of the team. Of all the miscommunications between owner and star that pepper the piece, none is more glaring than the issue of KG’s jersey retirement. Taylor said earlier this year that the team was trying to get a jersey retirement ceremony set up; Garnett says that’s bullshit.
There may be a time when Garnett and the Timberwolves reunite. Taylor told the AP in February that the Wolves reached out to Garnett in hopes of arranging a ceremony to retire his jersey.
“We think that’s the appropriate thing to do,” Taylor said. “At this time he hasn’t commented on a timetable. We just have left it open.”
Garnett said he has never heard from the Wolves.