Kevin Garnett wanted to remain a part of the Minnesota Timberwolves franchise that drafted him out of high school and watched as he developed into one of the league’s most fearsome power forwards. But in a recent interview with The Associated Press’ Jon Krawcynski, the one-time champion suggested the odds of a reconciliation are slim.
"I love those young guys," Garnett said about Minnesota’s triplet of youngsters, Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Zach LaVine. "I told [head coach Tom Thibodeau] I want to work with him, but obviously me and [Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor] don't see eye-to-eye on a lot of things and that's how it's going to be."
Garnett enjoyed a 21-year NBA career, and 14 of those seasons were in Minnesota. He helped lead the Timberwolves to eight consecutive playoff appearances, culminating with a Western Conference Finals run in 2004.
After he left the Timberwolves to pursue a championship in Boston, Garnett returned to spend the final year-plus of his career where it started. It was then-Wolves president Flip Saunders who orchestrated the trade that brought him back to Minnesota in 2015, and KG said the two spoke about his eventual transition to minority ownership, according to AP.
And then Saunders passed away after a battle with lymphoma, and the franchise ushered in a new era.
Garnett envisioned having a bigger say in the team’s decision-making process, according to AP. But Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor fired general manager Milt Newton and head coach Sam Mitchell — KG’s good friend — replacing the two with Tom Thibodeau as coach-president and Scott Layden as the new GM.
KG lit into the Timberwolves organization, according to AP, for how they handled the aftermath of Saunders’ passing. The team orchestrated an opening ceremony for their 2015-16 home opener that included a video tribute with players, coaches, and media speaking on Saunders’ impact on their lives.
But that wasn’t enough, according to Garnett, for someone who gave their all to the franchise.
"I thought he wasn't celebrated the proper way,” he said. “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."
While Taylor says he has reached out about retiring a jersey for Garnett, who leads the Minnesota franchise in most all-time statistical categories, KG says he has yet to hear from ownership.
"I choose to let the Timberwolves focus on what they're focused on and I'm focused on what I'm focused on," he said. "I still live in Minny. I still got love for Minny. You know what it is. I'm still a Timberwolf until I die, as I am a Celtic. And that's what it is."
Garnett said he’s still “definitely getting itchy” from playoff season, that he’s tossing and turning in the middle of the night from the muscle memory that comes from having played playoff basketball much of his career. It was his vision to help guide the Timberwolves back to the postseason.
Maybe one day, the two sides can hash out their differences for the advancement of the franchise.