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It has been a week since future Pro Basketball Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett announced his retirement, and he already has two standing offers to coach in the league he just left after 21 seasons as a player.
Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers and Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue — both longtime members of Boston’s staff during Garnett’s tenure on the Celtics — told reporters Thursday they have seats on their benches waiting for the 40-year-old should he ever decide he needs a job.
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Since Garnett first hinted at retirement some time in the 2012-13 season, I’ve had many conversations with people about his future. After all, he’s played in the NBA more than half his life. It’s all he knows. His passion for basketball is unmatched. Mentoring everyone from Kendrick Perkins to Karl-Anthony Towns over the past decade, his ability to both motivate people and teach the game is remarkable.
For those reasons, NBA personnel will all tell you he’d make a great coach. In the next breath, they’ll say there’s no way in hell he’d ever be one. In fact, Garnett himself will tell you the very same thing.
When asked at his introductory press conference upon being traded back to the Minnesota Timberwolves in February 2015, Garnett said, “Hell nah. A coach is what I won’t be. You can’t talk me into that. My sister’s pretty good at talking me into things. My daughters are pretty good at persuading me to things … but you can’t persuade me to coach. That’s a big ‘H-E-L-L N-A-H.’ Nah.”
Things change, though, and at a time when Garnett should be on a beach in Ibiza, he instead was already passing his wisdom on to big men Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan at Clippers practice.
“KG was phenomenal today,” Rivers said Thursday, per The Orange County Register’s Dan Woike. “Even before practice, he had a teaching clinic that you would pay a lot to see. It’s great to have him around. He’s a great teacher. We know him as a great player. I know him as a great teacher. He’ll be really good for us. I don’t think he wants to coach. He’s not that crazy. … I think he has a teaching future.”
Garnett famously stayed home from Celtics games when he was injured, because he could not stand sitting idly by as his team competed on the court, so Rivers still counts himself among the many who believe Garnett might chew his arm off if he had to watch basketball from the sidelines every night.
Lue, who called Garnett “one of my best friends,” seemed less convinced Garnett would stay home.
“I talked to him about it,” Lue told reporters at Cavaliers practice on Thursday, according to ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin. “I know his wife is pushing for it a lot. Brandi is pushing for it, trying to get him to come and coach. He says he’s not ready yet. He goes back — ‘I might do it’ — but he’s back and forth. We’ll see. But I’d definitely make a spot for him if he wanted to come back and coach.”
The least surprising part of that story is Garnett’s wife encouraging him to coach. Can you imagine him locked in the house all day? He’d pound his chest as he takes out the garbage, scream “ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!” every time he fixes the toilet and swat your hand when you try to put the dishes away.
L.A. seems a more logical location for Garnett, who calls Malibu home and has a longstanding relationship with Paul Pierce dating to their days as AAU teammates in the mid-1990s. And who really wants to see KG coaching LeBron James — a player with whom he had four epic playoff battles in a five-year span from 2008-12? Although, the hug with Cavs assistant James Posey would be something.
Minnesota once seemed like a favorite to keep KG in the fold, given his roots there and mentorship to Towns. Wolves head coach Tom Thibodeau was also a member of that Celtics coaching staff. But the death of Flip Saunders seems to have altered any longterm plans he might’ve had with the franchise.
Conversations about Garnett’s future were always good for a few turns. He wouldn’t put up with B.S. from Charles Barkley or whoever in a TV studio. He cussed too much to be a color analyst. Maybe he’d actually become super-chill in his retirement, just take yoga classes and share his coconut water.
There were always those who believed he’d still travel around to random pickup games, smash his head on the nearest stanchion and just terrorize dudes on the asphalt until he’s old and gray. But I always wanted to see him coach his daughters in youth basketball as the craziest sports dad of all-time, just making 12-year-old girls do knuckle push-ups and trash-talking little kids to no end.
Whatever lies ahead for Garnett, we know he has options, and there’s no way he’ll stay still for long.
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