Larry Bird may not be walking through that door, but Kevin Garnett is. The Big Ticket is reportedly set to re-join the Boston Celtics on a three-year deal worth $34 million, as first reported by the Boston Herald on Saturday morning with more details coming from Yahoo! Sports, which is a major part in reviving the new Big Three era. Of course, until Ray Allen re-signs (not a guarantee), the era's still in critical condition. First thing's first, though. KG is back.
Garnett's return impacts the Celtics in several ways, but one thing is particularly clear about KG's decision to come back: the Celtics will not be rebuilding. Instead, they'll retool for another title run.
Garnett likely wasn't interested in coming back if Danny Ainge was planning on hitting the reset button this offseason, offering a strong indicator that Ainge assured Garnett that they'll try again.
Some fans might roll their eyes at that notion. But really, what other choice did the Celtics have?
Unlike this year's draft class, the free agency market is relatively weak, with few -- if any, outside of Deron Williams -- impact players worth investing in long term. Hey, the Celtics came so close to returning to the NBA Finals this year (five wins away), so why not bring the band back together?
Was it the best move to sign Garnett for three more years (at $34 million, no less)? Well, at the moment, it seems peculiar. Sure, Garnett deserved a contract of that size (a little under $12 million per year) after his dominant second half last year, but three years? That seems like it's a little too long, doesn't it? Rumor had it that, if Garnett and Allen were too return, they would be offered two year deals to match up with Paul Pierce's contract, so they could all go out together.
Don't get me wrong, I'm still happy to have Garnett back. He'll help out in more ways than one.
(An aside. This is the green-blooded Celtics fanatic in me talking, but I wasn't ready to see the Big Three era end. Not like that, anyway. So that's one reason I'm happy to have the Ticket back.)
First and foremost, KG's return helps in the most important place: on-court production. Garnett isn't the same player who won the MVP award in 2004 (don't let this postseason fool you -- he can't do that again for three years ... right? Maybe he can. What do I know?), but he isn't washed up. He's not going to do what Ben Wallace -- once the best defensive big in the league -- did last year in his final hurrah (Wallace averaged 1.4 points and 3.0 rebounds in limited action in his final NBA season with the Detroit Pistons). Garnett still has some basketball left. That much we know.
Off the court, having Garnett back in the fold pays dividends, too. Having him here helps make Boston a more attractive environment for potential free agent signees, the ones that the Celtics can afford, at least. Garnett makes the Celtics better, and that in turn makes it a more desirable location. Maybe KG doesn't help as much as he used to in that category, but he still helps some.
Then we have Garnett the teacher and mentor. Garnett took guys like Greg Stiemsma and JaJuan Johnson under his wing this season, and he'll do the same with the newest members of the Celtics, rookie bigs Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo, provided they're willing to put in the work (and be able to take a little bit of this). Can you imagine what KG can do for them? That's huge.
Garnett coming back helps, in so many ways. So, welcome back, KG. Let's go get banner 18.