The Timberwolves hope Kevin Garnett holds off retirement for one more year

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"Don't let 'em give you any of that flank steak BS. Try the London Broil." (Getty Images)
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Due to injury and illness, Minnesota Timberwolves legend Kevin Garnett played in only five games with the Wolves this season, following the February trade that dealt him back to the Twin Cities. Garnett, who played with Minnesota from 1995 to 2007, surprised many by not signing off on announcing that 2014-15 would be the final season of his career, as many assumed that the (almost) 39-year old free agent to-be would decide to hang it up following two rough and injury-plagued seasons.

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Instead, Garnett remains non-committal. And, as is usually the case in his dealings with the media, rather silent on the matter. This is why it was left to Flip Saunders, the Wolves president and coach, to offer an invitation and a bit of hope.

From Phil Ervin at FOX Sports Minnesota:

"He's given an indication he'd like to play another year. If he does, we hope it'd be here," said Saunders, who rejoined the club in 2013 as president of basketball operations and appointed himself head coach last summer. "If he didn't want to play, I thought he would've played some games down the stretch. Where his leg was at and just the soreness, I believe he didn't want to take any chance, and the reason he didn't is because he indicated wants to get his body right. If he gets his body right, he wants to play. I think that's the avenue that he's trying to go towards."

[…]

Saunders doesn't expect a decision from Garnett's camp until the free-agent negotiation period opens July 1, but if he intends to play, Saunders said, it won't come long after that.

"He's going to know early," Saunders said. "He's doing things right now to get ready to play. . . . He's been in this league 20 years. He knows his body better than any doctor. He's not going to put his body in harm's way."

Garnett wasn’t hurting the Nets and Timberwolves with his play last season, but after 20 years and nearly 50,000 minutes the future Basketball Hall of Famer hit his limit when it came to playing in back to back games or over 30 ticks a contest. Notoriously averse to change, Garnett has now been traded twice in 20 months, and though it would be a surprise to see KG move on to a team besides Minnesota as a free agent this summer, he will have option.

Other teams will want to pay for what could be Garnett’s final season, and though money is of no concern to a player who already has over $315 million in career earnings, he will have his suitors. If the salary cap would allow for it, there is always the chance that the Los Angeles Clippers could reach out to Garnett, who has a house in Malibu and won a title with Clipper coach and personnel el jefe Doc Rivers in 2008.

Garnett, who averaged 7.6 points and about five rebounds in under 20 minutes a game with Minnesota, was brought in to act as a sensei of sorts more than anything. Working with youngsters Andrew Wiggins (the likely Rookie of the Year) and Zach LaVine, both of whom entered the NBA at the same age as da former Da Kid, Garnett was providing invaluable leadership in just an abbreviated two-month stint with the team.

Saunders and team owner Glen Taylor would like to see that continue, and though Garnett very publicly dismissed any hopes of acting as a future coach for the Wolves or any other team following the deal to Minnesota, he can’t exactly help himself while sitting in street clothes on the bench or on the team bus or plane.

Players tend to make retirement decisions straightaway, as the odds of a return grow even longer as the offseason runs deeper. It’s probably true that Garnett will look to make a quick decision in July rather than wait things out, and it’s possible that the Wolves could find themselves in an uneasy situation if they offer Garnett what is his probable market value (around the veteran’s minimum of $1.5 million) as a significant pay cut for the man that made $12 million last year and $21 million in his final season with the Wolves in 2006-07.

Though he’s been in the league since 1995, this will only be the second unrestricted free agent turn of Garnett’s career – outside of his last contract (signed in the summer of 2012) he’s always made a point to sign contract extensions rather than letting things drag on. This will undoubtedly be Garnett’s final contract, and he’s going to want to get it right.

It might seem a bit odd that a player would tune down a shot at a potential championship as a bit player on a winning team to return as a bit player to the worst team in the NBA, but this is where Kevin Garnett is at right now. The Wolves will probably enter 2016-17 with five (including their 2015 draft pick) quite-young rotation players as their core, and nobody loves anything as much as Kevin Garnett loves yelling at children.

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Kelly Dwyer

is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!