– Five months after he came back home, Timberwolves star Kevin Garnett on Friday officially, finally, committed to play two more NBA seasons as he intended to so from the beginning.

If he fulfills both seasons on a contract guaranteed to him pay him $16 million total, he will have played into his 40s and would become the first NBA player to play in his teens, 20s, 30s and 40s. He will turn 40 next May.

Wolves coach/basketball boss Flip Saunders said he expects Garnett to start at power forward, play 20 minutes a night and some back-to-back games, even though he played only five games because of a sore knee after he was acquired in a trade with Brooklyn in February.

Garnett signed the contract Friday in Las Vegas, where the Wolves summer league team is playing. He finalized an agreement that seemed a foregone conclusion since, well, maybe that day he returned.

Saunders called it a “significant signing” because of the roles Garnett will play on the floor as a defender and communicator and as a mentor whose presence presumably will speed the maturation of a young team.

Saunders said he hasn’t seen Garnett this excited in the summertime since the Wolves acquired Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell in 2003 and finally advanced out of the playoffs’ first round, reaching the Western Conference finals. He also said Garnett told him the team’s young players should come to October’s training camp intending to make the playoffs for the first time since that 2003 season.

“He said if they don’t, they shouldn’t be coming to camp,” Saunders said. “He’s coming in believing. He’s very committed.”

“I’m looking forward to it all,” Garnett said in a statement. “The process to greatness starts now.”