AP Sources: Garnett returning to Minnesota in deadline deal
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Kevin Garnett is coming back to the place it all began. And it won't be for just one final victory lap.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are sending forward Thaddeus Young to the Brooklyn Nets for Garnett, two people with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press. The people spoke Thursday on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been officially announced.
The Wolves also want to sign the 38-year-old Garnett to a new two-year deal this summer after his current deal expires, according to one of the people. That ensures the Wolves will have him on the court as a veteran mentor for a young roster that includes point guard Ricky Rubio, No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng.
"I'm going to be here with my notebook and see whatever he does," Rubio said. "I remember watching him with the Timberwolves and the Boston Celtics winning a championship, playing against him was something special. You could see players were afraid of him. That means he was tough, but he was a winner. No matter what a team needs to do, he did it."
The Timberwolves and Nets had been discussing the possibility of bringing Garnett back to Minnesota for some time leading up to the trade deadline on Thursday, but the former face of the franchise held all the leverage because he is one of the few veterans in the league with a full no-trade clause in his contract.
Garnett spent his first 12 seasons in Minnesota. He guided the Timberwolves to the only eight playoff appearances in franchise history and won the MVP award while leading them to the Western Conference finals in 2004.
The Wolves traded Garnett to Boston in 2007 and the Celtics won a championship in his first season there. Garnett remained with Boston until he was dealt along with Celtics mainstay Paul Pierce to Brooklyn on the night of the 2013 draft.
"When you think of the Timberwolves, you think of Kevin Garnett," Wiggins said. "That's the first thing that comes up."
After winning a title in Boston, Garnett is nearing the end of a brilliant career and now could finish it in front of a crowd that continues to adore him. He continued to receive standing ovations from the crowd every time he returned with the Celtics and Nets, and his No. 21 jersey is still regularly seen on the backs of fans at Target Center on most nights.
"I'm excited to just get the chance to work with him, be on the same team with him and see how he carries himself," Wiggins said.
In Minnesota, he will be reunited with Flip Saunders, who coached him for 10 years and made his own return to the organization before last season as president of basketball operations. Saunders named himself coach before this season and assistant coach Sam Mitchell is one of Garnett's favorite former teammates.
Pierce spent just a year in Brooklyn and now Garnett is gone too, with the Nets getting a solid replacement in Young, who has played much better as the season went on.
"Thanks @MNTimberwolves organization and fans for welcoming my family and I. We really appreciate you all," Young tweeted. "Hello @BrooklynNets, can't wait for the new opportunity ..... my family and I are very excited and ready."
Garnett is no longer a force on offense, and has often sat out the second night of back-to-back games. But he remains a solid rebounder and defender, plus a highly regarded locker room leader who should make an impact on a young Timberwolves team. He is averaging 6.8 points and 20.3 minutes per game for the Nets, who at 21-29 are languishing on the fringes of playoff contention in the lackluster Eastern Conference.
The Timberwolves have never made the postseason without Garnett prowling the paint. He may not be the player he was when he left in 2007, but the Wolves hope that when they return to the playoffs, Garnett will still have a major influence.
"Whatever he says, we're going to do it," Rubio said. "He's going to have the voice in the locker room. WE're going to learn a lot from him. It's great. Not just because he did great things over here. He's been one of the greatest ever in this sport and I'm happy to be his teammate."