The Clippers were interested in signing Kevin Garnett prior to him announcing his retirement from the game after 21 seasons, L.A. coach/executive Doc Rivers told ESPN’s Jackie MacMullen. KG and the Wolves have reportedly agreed to a buyout arrangement that will allow the future Hall-of-Famer to retire while still collecting most of the $8MM salary he was due to earn in 2016/17.
Rivers, who previously had declared Garnett his favorite player to coach, told MacMullen that he spoke with the player about his intentions. “He doesn’t want to play,” Rivers said. “I’m sure he won’t play again. I think he realized, ‘Why am I doing this?’ I would have absolutely been interested in bringing him here. You always find a place for a guy like that, whose voice in the locker room is so strong, so clear, so impactful.
He’s such a great teacher in practice. He should start a course in leadership. The NBA should designate who the best player is on each team and then they could bring Kevin in and he could teach them how to be the best player and the best leader. Better yet, they could bring him and Tim Duncan in and they could teach it together and show people how it can be done in two completely opposite ways.”
Minnesota’s firing of interim coach Sam Mitchell and GM Milt Newton at the completion of the 2015/16 campaign played a major part in Garnett’s decision to walk away from the game, MacMullen relays. Garnett was visibly upset when he received the news of the duo’s ouster and his strained relationship with Wolves owner Glen Taylor further deteriorated as a result, league sources told MacMullen.
Taylor acknowledged this week that he hadn’t spoken with Garnett for months and Rivers noted that Garnett’s departure from Minnesota was not what he had envisioned, and his ownership opportunity has all but vanished, MacMullen writes. “It wasn’t a great ending,” Rivers said. “I’m not going to say too much about it, but once Flip passed away it threw a wrench into everything.”
Rivers did add that Garnett feels “really great” and that he was working out as recently as a couple of weeks ago, the scribe relays. His knee issues, Rivers believes, could be handled with the proper regimen of rest and treatment. “The sad thing is he could play another year if he wanted to,” Rivers told MacMullen. “Maybe that’s why he’s retired but not retired. He loves the young guys on that Minnesota team. They’re great listeners and he loved working with them. It’s too bad it’s ending like this for him.”
Garnett does intend to stay in the game in some capacity, Rivers confirmed to MacMullen, and said he’s already thinking up ways to add him to the organization. Garnett does own a home in nearby Malibu, California. “I’m going to offer him something,” Rivers said. “I don’t want to say too much right now. I just know he’d be a great asset to any team.”