CHICAGO – NBA coaches love veteran players, sometimes no matter their age. Ergo, driven Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau wholeheartedly endorses the Timberwolves’ decision to bring Kevin Garnett back to the franchise, even at age 38.
Thibodeau and Garnett won an NBA title together in their first seasons in Boston in 2008.
“Kevin is a special guy and has had an incredible career,” said Thibodeau, an assistant coach and defensive coordinator on that Celtics title team. “I know what he means to that franchise. I was happy he was able to win a championship. Sometimes there are championship players who don’t win it. Whether he won it or not, he was and is a championship player. When you’re around someone like that, you’re very fortunate. It wasn’t just what he did but what he did for the team and how he drove everybody.
“I think it’s a great move for Minnesota. I saw firsthand how he affected the Celtics’ young players and all the players in a very positive way. It was through his actions, how he prepared to play, how he practiced. When you watch him play, he doesn’t get enough credit for how unselfish he is. When you have guys like that, it carries over to the rest of the team.”
Garnett didn’t play Friday, the first night of consecutive games deemed too taxing at the moment for a player who entered the NBA in 1995, the same year Wolves rookies Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine were born. Garnett likely will play Saturday against Memphis at Target Center.
Thibodeau predicts Garnett’s presence will be “great, not only with young guys but veterans as well, not only what he’s saying but what he’s doing.”
“He’ll get everyone on that team to play a lot harder,” Thibodeau said. “He’s so unselfish and winning is so important to him. When you watch the way he plays, it’s all about winning. When you have a guy like that on your team, the young guys can’t help but improve quickly. He’ll bring a spirit to that team that will tie everybody together.
“Obviously, he’s not the same player he was 10 years ago and the day of him playing 35 minutes are gone, but he can still bring a lot to a team. He may not be able to be great every night like he once did, but he still has the ability to be great any given night.“
Pek still hurting
Wolves center Nikola Pekovic didn’t do his usual warm-up Friday, hoping the rest would help manage pain that persists in his hurting ankle. “It’s just tough mentally,” he said.
Coach Flip Saunders said he isn’t yet considering resting Pekovic one night during back-to-back games.
“We’ll see how he is,” Saunders said. “… We’ll try to limit his minutes as much as we can. If it gets so bad, we’ll rest him more. It hasn’t gotten to that point yet. It hasn’t gotten to the point where he’s asked not to play.”
Mighty like a Rose?
Bulls star point guard Derrick Rose underwent his third knee surgery since 2012 on Friday morning, a 10-minute procedure that removed the meniscus in his left knee. He walked out on his own and could return within four weeks.
“It’s just sad to see him have to go through this tough part of his career,” Garnett said. “I’m just hoping he makes the best decision for himself and his family. Basketball is always going to be here for him. He can always pick up a ball and go hoop, but to walk around and be who you are and be free, run around with your kids and be yourself is more important. I always say the game of life is bigger than the game of basketball. So D-Rose take course of yourself and what’s best for you.”
• The Bulls played without Rose and All-Star forward Pau Gasol (illness) and also lost forward Taj Gibson in the second quarter because of an ankle injured when his foot landed on teammate Joakim Noah’s foot.
• Wolves veteran guard Gary Neal played his second consecutive game after he missed Monday’s game at Houston because of a sprained ankle.