SI’s Ian Thomsen submitted a counterpoint yesterday to all the doom-and-gloom alarmism surrounding the Celtics: he doesn’t think the team should blow it up. Not within the next month and a half, anyway.
He points out that the Big Three will gradually play themselves into game shape, and that trade offers won’t even really open up until March 1st, when all the players who were signed in the offseason can be dealt.
But the meatiest tidbit of this piece is that Thomsen has apparently heard, from “the Celtics’ locker room,” that Kevin Garnett is thinking about playing basketball next year in a reduced role. Really!
The surprise news seeping out of the Celtics’ locker room is that the 35-year-old Garnett is talking about extending his career beyond this season, even though the 17th-year power forward would face a drastic cut in his $21.2 million salary to go with the lesser job description of a role player.
Assuming that seeping voice from the Celtics’ locker room is Garnett talking to his coaches and not Sasha Pavlovic gossiping with Bryan Doo, this is surprising news. A lot of people who follow the Celtics, myself included, assuming that Garnett was too frustrated with the decline in his physical abilities to keep playing after this year. That if he couldn’t play at the highest level, he wouldn’t play at all.
Here’s a quote from Garnett about his retirement from last February:
“I’m going to probably fade to black,’’ he said. “To be honest, I’m not a showman guy. I’m going to fade to black. I don’t know what I will do. I’m an idealist. I have a high drive and I’m very determined. Fade to black, man, like evaporate.’’
Of course, it’s not 100% clear what “fade to black” means. I always assumed it meant he’d just quietly retire when he started to slip, but I guess it could mean playing way past his prime and just becoming a nonreactor in the league. That sounds a lot like liquid being exposed to heat for too long and gradually turning to gas, or evaporating.
Thomsen speculates that the Celtics could resign Garnett and Ray Allen as “inexpensive role players” to help mold whatever young talent the Celtics are able to sign in the offseason. He makes the solid point that the Celtics seem to be incapable of signing a major star, so if they’re forced to develop players internally, it would help to surround them with veterans (not that it’s done much for their draft picks over the last four years).
Is Garnett capable of being an “inexpensive role player”? If the Celtics don’t bring him back, would he want to come off the bench on a contender? Start for the Kings? Come off the bench for the Kings? What is going on here?