He's 36 years old and has 17 years worth of mileage on his legs, but Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett has shown during the 2011-'12 season that he may have a couple of productive NBA seasons left in him.
Because of that, KG is a crucial part to Boston's upcoming rebuilding process.
Many believe this is the final go around for Boston's original Big Three of Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. While that may be true, Garnett's play is speaking volumes and he's someone Danny Ainge must seriously consider bringing back to Beantown for one or two more years.
He averaged 15.8 points and 8.2 rebounds on the season, but the Celtics really took off after Doc rivers moved KG to the 5 spot after the All-Star break. This postseason, while many felt Garnett may not have had the legs to dominate, all he's done is average 19.5 points and 10.7 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the floor.
I don't know about you, but I'm more than happy with that type of production.
It's understandable that Ainge wants to go in a new direction, but in a weak free agency class, who is he going to get to play center next season?
They can take a run at restricted free agents Roy Hibbert, Brook Lopez or JaVale McGee, but their current teams have the right to match any offer.
As far as unrestricted free agents, the Celtics wouldn't be better off with a Chris Kaman or Spencer Hawes as its starting center.
No, the smart move is to re-sign Garnett and use one (or both) of their first-round picks on a big man that KG can groom.
Certainly Garnett won't command the $21 million he made this season, in fact Ainge could probably sign him for two years at less than that.
Keeping KG around is not only vital for Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce as it gives the Celtics a legitimate third option, but having another veteran around to show the youngsters how things are done on and off the floor is a commodity that can't go overlooked.
Just because the Celtics have money, it doesn't mean they have to spend it all on free agents this year.
Bringing back Garnett for a year makes more sense when you look at the 2013 class of centers that looks to include: Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum, DeMarcus Cousins (team option), Greg Monroe (team option) and others.
Letting KG walk after this year leaves the Celtics a big hole in the middle.
If Ainge is smart, he makes Garnett a short-term part of the Celtics re-building process until a better center becomes a legitimate option.