Kevin Garnett was back at Target Center this morning, and once again drawing a crowd.
He was one of the relatively few healthy Brooklyn Nets who were at the team’s shootaround this morning. (The Nets, by the way, will be without guard Deron Williams (ankle), forward Andrei Kirilenko (back), center Brook Lopez (ankle) and guard Jason Terry (knee) for tonight’s game with the Wolves).
The Nets are struggling to find a rhythm, with so many new faces and so many injuries making it difficult for them to get to know each other. The Nets are 3-8, 1-6 on the road and have lost three straight overall heading into this game. The Wolves, meanwhile, have lost two straight.
But back to Garnett, who, along with Paul Pierce and Terry, were traded from Boston to Brooklyn during the off-season.
“It’s always good to come back to Minnesota,” Garnett said, surrounded by both New York and Twin Cities media members. “The Twin Cities have always been like a second or third home. Always enjoyed the fans here.”
Garnett had nice things to say about the Wolves, calling Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love one of the best 1-2 punches in the league. He called the Wolves “electrifying.’’
“They play with a real fast pace,” Garnett said. “Kevin Love is in an unbelievable groove…. They’re playing with a lot of confidence. And trying to slow any of these guys down is going to be a task for all of us tonight.’’
But Garnett deflected any questions about where he is at in his career. When asked if he has contemplated retirement after this season, he said, “Next question.” A question about whether he could see a scenario in which he finished his career in a Wolves uniform got the same response.
Indeed, Garnett said, he is not thinking much about the past or the future. He’s worried about the present. Namely, trying to get the Nets back on track. “You deal with reality,” he said. “You deal with the current (situation). I don’t think outside of whatever I’m doing at the time. And the focus needs to be (there). ‘’
Garnett said he’s maintained a relationship with Flip Saunders, his coach when he was here and currently Minnesota’s president of basketball operations.
Here’s one final Garnett quote: “There is a lot of emotions that come with this building,” he said. “A lot of emotions that come with some of the stuff that’s in here. But, obviously, different time, different personnel, different times.”
In other items:
--Kirilenko met with Alexey Shved Thursday night. The two players, both from Russia, were very close last season, and Kirilenko said he’s been trying to help Shved through his struggles early this season. The two talk once or twice a week. “He’s in a tough position now, game-wise,” Kirilenko said. “But for young guys he has to use every opportunity. If you play five minutes, go hard. If you play 10 minutes, go hard. Play one minute, go hard. And if you aren’t playing, cheer for your teammates. Be positive and wait for a chance.”
--Kirilenko said he’s happy with the Nets, but admits that he sometimes wishes things had gone differently in the summer. Kirilenko opted out of the second year of his deal with the Wolves – one that would have paid him a little over $10 million – to become a free agent after last season. He rejected a multi-year offer from the Wolves at a lesser salary. Ultimately he ended up signing a two-year deal with the Nets that will pay him $3.2 million this year.
--Kevin Love got two stingers in his right arm during Wednesday’s loss to the Clippers, but said this morning that the arm is fine. “It didn’t affect my shooting,” he said of Wednesday’s game. “It was just an off night. But I feel good today.’’
It will be interesting to see the two Kevins tonight. They last faced each other in Target Center two years ago at the end of March, 2012. Love had played amazingly well in the month and there was talk about whether he might ultimately turn out to be the best forward named Kevin to play for the Wolves. Garnett got the better of things that night, scoring 24 points on 12-for-18 shooting with 10 rebounds in Boston’s 100-79 victory. Love scored 22 with 11 rebounds but shot 5-for-18 that night.
It’s my guess that Love will fare better tonight.
That’s about it for now. I’ll get back to you just before the game.