Kevin Garnett barely had time for the past and was not entertaining questions about his future Friday morning at Target Center.
The present is too pressing. Garnett, the former Timberwolves star who went to Boston and won an NBA title, is now with the Brooklyn Nets, a veteran (read: old) team with a tight window for success that is off to a very slow, injury-riddled start.
“I focus on what’s happening [now],” Garnett said after the Nets’ shootaround. “There is a lot of emotions that come with this building. … But, obviously, different time, different personnel, different times.”
Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry were all part of the offseason trade that sent them from the rebuilding Celtics to a Brooklyn team with high expectations. But injuries — the Nets were without Terry (knee), center Brook Lopez (ankle), Deron Williams (ankle) and Andrei Kirilenko (back) in Friday’s 111-81 loss to the Wolves — have made it difficult for the new roster to jell.
Brooklyn is off to a 3-9 start. Garnett, 37, is averaging career lows in minutes played (22:18) and scoring (6.4 points per game). And that’s why he was far more interested in talking about how to make the Nets better than he was about talking about his potential retirement, a query that got a “next question” answer from Garnett.
“Right now I’m just trying to figure out the system, and where I fit in at it,” he said. “Obviously [coach Jason Kidd] wants more ball movement. I’m trying to initiate that. I care less about my offense right now. I haven’t really been too offensive-minded. I’ve tried to be primarily defensive-minded, kind of be the example of that.”
So, little time for reflection. Even though this game — the eighth he has played against the Wolves since he left — might be his fifth and final time at Target Center. The last time he played here was March 30, 2012. Kevin Love was at the end of one of the most impressive months in recent memory; he averaged 30.7 points and 13.9 rebounds in 16 games that March. There was a lot of talk about the two Kevins. That night, Garnett had 24 points on 8-for-13 shooting. Love scored 22 points on 5-for-18 shooting.
This time? “We don’t want to focus on that too much,” Love said. “We want to focus on the whole team they have.” Garnett, meanwhile, praised both Love and the Wolves, calling Love and Ricky Rubio one of the league’s best 1-2 punches.
Garnett and Wolves President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders still keep in touch. Saunders is convinced Garnett will have some role in basketball once his playing days end.
“He’ll get involved in some way,” Saunders said. As for now? Saunders said don’t count out Garnett or the Nets yet. “This is the beginning of a painting right now, and they don’t have all their colors,” Saunders said.
Last season, Kirilenko and Wolves guard Alexey Shved, fellow Russians as well as teammates, were close. Kirilenko said that the two talk once or twice a week and that he has done his best to help Shved through his early-season slump.
“He’s lost a little bit of confidence,” said Kirilenko, who missed his eighth game Friday. “He has to use every opportunity. … It’s all about getting rhythm and game time. If you’re playing five minutes, it’s hard to show what you’re capable of.”
Shved, meanwhile, said he has to work harder in practice to get more time in games.
“I’m feeling comfortable better than before,” said the second-year guard. “So I just need to keep working.”
• Kirilenko said of his decision to test the free-agent waters over the summer: “I wish I could do a little something different, but I’m happy” with the Nets.
• Wolves enter Ronny Turiaf said he has been given no timeline for a potential return from his elbow injury.