The Minnesota Timberwolves and Kevin Garnett are closing in on a contract buyout, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein. Unless Garnett signs with another team, this could signal the end of the 40-year-old’s illustrious NBA career.
Garnett was set to make $8 million in the final year of a two-year contract, assuming he didn’t announce plans to retire before then. As of July, he hadn’t even indicated his plans to top Timberwolves officials, according to NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner. Wolves owner Glen Taylor said that while Garnett expressed a desire to end his career on a playoff team, he wasn’t sure his body would hold up.
It’s unclear if the contract buyout reveals Garnett’s answer on retirement, but it’s hard to see him suiting up for another team at this point in his career. Since returning to Minnesota a year and a half ago, he’s only played 43 of the Timberwolves’ 112 games. He acted more as an assistant coach and mentor to Karl-Anthony Towns than an actual player.
Since the season ended, the Timberwolves fired head coach Sam Mitchell, one of Garnett’s best friends, then changed the front office and hired Tom Thibodeau to run the show. In an August Sirius XM interview, Mitchell said Garnett was “so hurt” by the way the Timberwolves cleaned house:
"For people to send you messages as if you were going to be back and your staff was going to be back and we had everything going in the right direction, and to get a phone call [from owner Glen Taylor] two hours before your last game basically saying, 'I've changed my mind and I'm going in a different direction,' it just kind of knocked us all for a loop. We've all recovered from it and moved on but if you know Kevin, Kevin is very sensitive and he's very loyal. And there was a lot of people in that organization that was let go, and the way it was done just left a bad taste in a lot of people's mouth.
Mitchell later warned that Garnett “takes that stuff personally.” Nearly two months later, Garnett’s second tenure in Minnesota is nearing its conclusion. We’ll see what happens next.