Kevin Garnett has been a popular member of the Boston Celtics since arriving via trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves, but his tenure as a member of the team should come to a closer after the 2011-12 NBA season.
This is the part where some Celtics fans might feel outraged after reading the first sentence, but let's delve into the idea that K.G. should be in a new uniform after the season.
Garnett's $21 million contract is set to expire at season's end, and the financial flexibility Boston will receive from his deal coming off the books is critical for reshaping the roster and overhauling this team.
This should be the last season of the Big Three playing together. General manager Danny Ainge needs to understand that the window of opportunity has passed and he needs to build a more complete roster.
Garnett has been unbelievable for the Celtics this season while serving as the team's most consistent player.
The move to becoming the team's full-time starting center has done wonders for his statistical production, but he's less than thrilled with playing the position (via Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston).
“Preference-wise, I don’t like it, to be honest with you," said Garnett. "I’m a 4. I don’t like, you know -- it's what it is. I’ll be whatever this team needs me to be. Other than a cheerleader with pom-poms and some short-shorts. Other than that, whatever this team needs me to be, man, I’ll be it.
He'll work for the remainder of the season in the middle, but this is a Celtics team that desperately needs a real center.
Ainge signed Jermaine O'Neal and Shaquille O'Neal in 2010, two big men who each proved to be colossal busts during their respective tenure in Boston.
Now armed with a colossal amount of cap space to spend in free agency, Ainge's priority should be to find a talented big man for beneath the basket.
Brandon Bass has a $4 million player option for next season on his contract and is expected to be back with the team. In 20 starts at power forward this season, Bass is averaging 12.5 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game.
Garnett has been crucial to what the Celtics have done in recent seasons, but it's important to separate emotion from business when building a team.
As difficult as it may be to wave goodbye to a player of Garnett's caliber, that's exactly what Ainge and the Celtics have to do.
It's imperative to move forward rather than remaining in the middle, and to do that, Ainge has to take the initiative in allocating the financial resources elsewhere to address the obvious shortcomings on the roster.
If the team and its fans want to continue the trend of success and seek to see their team competing for another title sooner rather than later, it's time to move on from the past.