ESPN New York's Ohm Youngmisuk is reporting that Kevin Garnett will play out the final year of his contract. Garnett is owed $12 million for the upcoming season. According to a recent report from ESPN's Marc Stein, the Nets have been expressing "quiet optimism" that Kevin Garnett would return for his 20th NBA season. GM Billy King said last week (according to Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix) that the team was approaching the offseason assuming that Garnett would be on the roster.
Speculation had built up over the course of the past season that the 38-year-old big man would retire following a largely ineffective season. Playing in only 54 games, Garnett averaged career lows in nearly every category, including minutes (20.5), points per game (6.5), field goal percentage (44.1%), and blocks per game (0.7). Advanced statistics such as Offensive (-0.7 wins) and Defensive Win Shares (1.9), which measure how many wins a player's offense and defense are worth, also did not rate Garnett kindly this past season. Despite the fact that Garnett hauled in 19.3% of available rebounds while on the court last season (which ranks as the fifth best percentage of his career), the numbers generally support back up what the good old-fashioned eye test already confirmed- Garnett has clearly lost a few steps and endured the worst year of his career in 2013-2014.
While Garnett's effectiveness on the court last year was severely limited, the veteran big man still brings a respected voice and leadership to the locker room. Head coach Jason Kidd and various Nets players spoke highly of Garnett and his willingness to teach and drive his teammates. While it is uncertain how many wins having a leader like Garnett in the locker room translates to, having that sort of presence certainly does account for something.
At this point in his career, Garnett is obviously not worth the $12 million the Nets will be paying him. But if he can remain a stable defensive force in the paint and bring up his shooting numbers slightly (perhaps up to 48-50%), Garnett can still be a valuable piece for Brooklyn in 2014-2015.
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