Kevin Garnett has said he regrets not leaving the Timberwolves sooner.
That statement came to light amid Garnett’s ongoing feud with Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor. But it also makes sense. Garnett spent his first 12 seasons in Minnesota, advancing past the first round only once.
In 2007, he facilitated a trade to the Celtics. Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen led Boston to the 2008 championship – a signature accomplishment in Garnett’s Hall of Fame resume.
Playing with Paul, playing with Ray, coming to Boston was a huge, huge, huge, huge, huge, huge challenge in my life. It was probably one of the biggest decisions that I made in my career, and I’m glad I made it. We should have got together a couple years earlier, right? We’d probably be sitting on about two or three more rings. But, you know, it’s all good, man.
It has become more common for stars to join forces – wherever they please. This was a different era, before LeBron James paved the way for star movement.
If Garnett, Pierce and Allen tried to force their way onto the same team sooner, it might not have been in Boston. The Celtics had to build up assets to trade for Garnett and Allen.
Pierce was trying to get traded to Dallas in 2005. Allen got traded from the Seattle SuperSonics to the Bucks in 2003. So, both players were movable earlier. Garnett was the one showing most loyalty, which the Timberwolves were eager to reciprocate with their franchise player.
By the time they played together, Garnett, Pierce and Allen were all in their 30s. They had one great season and a few more excellent seasons. But soon enough, their natural declines hit. So, it’s easy to wonder “what if?” Those three definitely could have won more titles if they linked up sooner, though it’s worth noting just how savvy those three had become by the time they reached Boston. Their basketball intelligence might not have been quite so high in previous seasons.
In the end, it worked out well enough. Garnett, Pierce and Allen got rings. Though it’s natural to wonder whether they could have won three or four, it sure beats wondering whether they could have won one.