The Cavaliers’ search for a viable big man during the regular season led the defending NBA champions to future Hall-of-Famer, Kevin Garnett, Cleveland head coach Tyronn Lue revealed on ESPN’s NBA Lockdown Podcast.
Garnett, 40, retired following the 2015/16 campaign after 21 NBA seasons; he joined the TNT’s Inside The NBA program as an analyst and holds a role as a consultant for the Bucks and Clippers. However, when Andrew Bogut — whose Cavaliers debut lasted less than one minute — suffered a fractured left tibia, ending his season, Lue made a call to the Timberwolves legend.
“I was like, ‘Man, you should come back and play for me.’ He was like, ‘Man, you all have a lot going on over there,‘” Lue said, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. “That was before we hit our stride like we’re playing well now. He was like, ‘If you and [James] Posey were still playing, I would come.’ But he said, ‘But y’all are coaching and y’all are going through what you’re going through.’ He said, ‘Ah, I’m going to sit this one out.’ I said, ‘OK. We’ll call you next year.’”
With Garnett not interested, the Cavaliers ultimately turned to Larry Sanders, who left the NBA two years prior due to personal issues. His Cleveland tenure lasted just five games (13 minutes) and was mostly spent with Cleveland’s NBA D-League affiliate, the Canton Charge. On the final day of the regular season, the same day they waived Sanders, the Cavaliers signed Edy Tavares to fill the void. The team finished the season with a 51-31 record, good for second in the Eastern Conference.
The former NBA champion initially expressed interest in returning for a 22nd campaign in the offseason but Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor explained to NBA.com that Garnett was unsure his body would hold up.
“Then he said, ‘I don’t know if I can,‘” Taylor said. “I asked him, ‘What does that mean?’ And he said, ‘I don’t know.’ So I asked the question but I didn’t get an answer that helped me. Yes, theoretically, he’d like to play. But he has some doubts of his knees holding up. I believe he told me exactly the truth.”
While it was a no from Garnett this season, Lue’s admission that he would call KG next season leaves the door somewhat ajar for an NBA return. For now though, Garnett seems to be enjoying his new role(s) and hasn’t expressed any public interest in making a comeback.