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Free Agent Stock Watch: Kevin Garnett

There has been a lot of talk lately about the impending unrestricted free agent status of Celtics veteran forward Kevin Garnett.  Garnett wants to stay, and Doc Rivers expressed interest in bringing him back.  So while there is certainly a chance that Garnett is not going anywhere, the 2004 NBA MVP would definitely generate significant interest should he hit the free agent market. 

The age of the Celtics roster has been well documented in the media, and Garnett, who turns 36 in May, is obviously part of the reason why.  While the Big Ticket is not the franchise centerpiece he once was, he was been able to maintain a consistent level of contribution over the past four years. 

Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen teamed up to win the 2008 title in Garnett's first year as a Celtic.  Since that season, there seems to be a general sentiment out there that Garnett is declining, but is he?  While 2007-2008 may have been his last year as a superstar, his numbers since have been encouragingly consistent.  His 2008-2012 points-per-game averages have been 15.9, 14.3, 14.9 and 15.6 while his rebounding averages have been 8.5, 7.3, 8.9, 8.1 respectively.  That doesn't look like a decline to me, but at 35-years-old, the cliff has to be approaching.

Garnett is no longer an elite defender, but he is still above average and most importantly, he has stayed relatively healthy (played 69 and 71 games in the last two seasons).  His leadership and on-the-court intensity are his signatures.  Those aspects to his game will make him very attractive to contenders looking to add a final championship piece or even a younger team on the rise looking to learn how to win.  The Nets have apparently already expressed interest.  Who else could?  The Pacers, 76ers and Mavericks all fit that mold, and could have the cap room to spend depending on what happens with their rosters.

It's hard to predict a price for Garnett because, let's face it, guys like him don't come around very often – he is in his 16th year and has produced at a high level in nearly all of them.  The only certainty is that his $21MM+ days are numbered.  Tim Duncan, who is also an unrestricted free agent after the season, faces a similar situation in San Antonio.  It wouldn't be surprising if they received very similar deals, with one of them setting the market for the other.  It all depends how many productive years the buyers think Garnett has left in him.  With his consistency in the last four years, he has certainly made that hard to predict.

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