As we watch and wait for the Celtics 2012 offseason to unfold, there are a lot of dominoes that could fall. At this point, the departure of Ray Allen (despite my hopes) appears to be becoming more likely by the day, as a variety of circumstances behind the scenes point to a parting of ways on both sides. However, the biggest domino in this entire offseason scenario is none other than Kevin Garnett.
The 36-year-old veteran has fueled endless speculation already around the very real possibility that he could retire this summer, putting the Celtics in a tough spot where they might have to spend more of their summer rebuilding, rather than just reloading. Whether or not Allen is back next season, this team is in a position where they could realistically contend for at the least an Eastern Conference title next season once again if Garnett returns. The Heat will be the favorites undoubtedly, but the Bulls will be without Derrick Rose for much of the season, making Boston the top choice to be the number two contender in the East, depending on what Indiana does this summer.
That contender scenario only happens though if Garnett is back. (I’ll save you the time now. He’s not playing anywhere besides Boston next season if he plays). Today in The Boston Herald, Steve Bulpett reflected on what kind of situation Garnett would need in Beantown according to sources, if he were to return:
KG has found a comfort zone with the Celts that would make it hard for him to go elsewhere if he isn’t able to find a mutually beneficial deal here.
In this regard, some close to the issue think it’s possible Garnett waits to see how the club plans to shape the roster.
“Kevin’s very loyal, and he hates change,” one source said. “But I think it’d be hard for him to come back if it’s a total rebuild. If he’s going to play, he has to be playing for something.
“I think he’ll wait to see what’s going to happen. If Danny can give him a solid answer right away, then maybe he gives them an answer, too. But KG’s going to want to know who he’ll be playing with.”
Another factor is who he’ll be playing for, as Garnett clearly has developed a strong affection for Doc Rivers.
So if the Celts can convince him through their offseason moves that they will be able to contend, and Garnett has a coach with whom he’s comfortable, the matter then comes down to a contract.
There has been no talk that he will try to break the bank, but there are those who say KG should be forgiven if he’s wary, adding that on one occasion in Minnesota, a promise to bring back certain players was not kept.
So for now, we are left to watch and wait. On the surface, it looks like everything should work out. Boston has the most money to offer. Garnett is most comfortable in Boston, and the C’s have the means to put together a potentially improved contender for next season with more spare parts to appease KG.
With that said, doing that is expensive for this ownership, who would run the risk of running into luxury tax territory again, depending how much Garnett and his fellow C’s free agents command on the market. If Boston knows Garnett won’t play anywhere else besides Boston (or doesn’t want to), how does that affect their offer? Will they go two years in another new deal with KG and risk losing cap flexibility moving forward, the exact scenario Danny Ainge has preached against for the past 2-3 years? Will a potential departure of Ray Allen bother Garnett at all, if Boston fails to make him a reasonable offer? And if Boston does come in too low with the money for KG himself, will Garnett, a very proud man, walk away into the sunset for good?
Plenty of questions right now, with no certain answers. My faith is with some careful navigation of the waters, Danny Ainge, Doc Rivers and company can work through all these potential issues and bring back a happy Garnett for one final lap. If not, it will be a long summer for everyone involved.