Ainge, Celtics Await Decision by Garnett
BOSTON – Danny Ainge on Wednesday told WEEI that Kevin Garnett is mulling retirement but could return to the Boston Celtics next season.
Garnett, who finished his 17th season in impressive fashion by averaging 19.2 PPG and 10.4 RPG in the postseason, is set to become a free agent on July 1. He is contemplating retirement for several reasons, highlighted by the fact that his pregame routine has become much more challenging at 36 years old.
“I don't think people realize how hard it is for him to get ready to play,” Ainge said. “It's really draining for guys that age, to just prepare to play. (It takes) two or three hours worth of treatment, stretching. The days are different than when you are 25 or 30 and you just sort of wake up from your nap and show up to the gym and play."
Those days may be far in the rearview mirror for Garnett, but the fact of the matter is that he is still one of the top players in the league. He, along with Rajon Rondo, carried the Celtics to the seventh game of the Eastern Conference Finals this season. Garnett was also named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team in late May.
Garnett was unfiltered when speaking to the media during the postseason about his affinity for Boston. He has fallen in love with the city, its fans and, most importantly, the organization over the past five years. Ainge believes those resounding facts give the Celtics the upper hand in retaining KG if he returns to the NBA next season.
"I know that he wants to come back (to Boston),” Ainge said. “I know he likes Boston, and I know he loves playing for Doc (Rivers). He loves everything about the team and the city and so forth. I think that his decision will be, 'Do I really want to play? Or do I not want to play?’ "
After admitting that he prefers not to badger Garnett into a quick decision, Ainge made it clear that the emotional big man prefers Boston to any other team.
“That's sort of been the indication that, if he's going to play, that he would like to come back to Boston,” said Ainge. “That's where we are right now.”
The next step in the process will be Garnett notifying Ainge and the front office of his decision. There won’t be an ESPN special on that verdict, but you can bet that the Celtics are eagerly awaiting an answer that will determine their next course of action this offseason.