Kevin Garnett is 36 years old. He is under contract with the Boston Celtics for the next two seasons after this one. Garnett is not a part of the Boston Celtic's long-term future. Nor does he stand much chance of winning one more championship ring in the short-term. The chance that Garnett plays past this season is also relatively low. From every possible basketball angle, Garnett should be determined to leave the Celtics before the trade deadline this year.
Yet, the veteran power forward not only doesn't want to leave Boston, he is vehemently fighting for his place amongst his current teammates. Garnett is refusing to waive the no trade clause attached to his contract, as his name repeatedly crops up in potential deals.
With Rajon Rondo, Leandro Barbosa and Jared Sullinger sidelined for the season, the Celtics are primed to blow up their roster and look to move forward with youngsters such as Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee and Jeff Green. That should mean Jason Terry, Paul Pierce and Garnett would all serve the franchise better as trade targets. However, with Garnett not looking to leave, it makes more sense for the Celtics to keep their roster in tact.
In some light, Garnett could be shown as being selfish. Garnett has never been a selfish player, either on the court or watching from the sidelines. His overwhelming loyalty may be blinding him to the effects of his decision for the franchise in the long-term, but in the short-term Garnett is setting the tone for a locker-room that is full of youngsters still learning their craft. Although Sullinger is injured for the year, he in particular can learn a lot from Garnett. Garnett plays the position in a similar way to Sullinger. Both are power forwards, but neither attack the rim or play above it often. Sullinger can still learn about defense and leadership from Garnett during this season even if he is not physically participating in team events as he rehabilitates.
Along with Sullinger, young center Fab Melo's development is continuing despite constantly flipping between the main roster and development league. Melo, Green and Sullinger could all conceivably play major roles in the Celtics' future. So even if Garnett stays on the roster this year and then retires, leaving two years of big money on his contract, he is still playing an important if often overlooked aspect on the franchise's development moving forward. An NBA club isn't like a video-game club. More than just the physical aspects of players and the numbers are important.
The truth is that Garnett and the Celtics owe each other. The Celtics were very generous with his new contract considering his age, but they had to be because Garnett was all set to retire in the off-season before this year. Fighting for his return in the off-season and then sending him packing during the regular season is not the move of a classy organization. As a long-standing league leading franchise, the Celtics must always consider their perception.