Kevin Garnett has been the focus of trade speculation for most of the month of February, a direct result of the Boston Celtics barely staying in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
However, general manager Danny Ainge should hold on to the future Hall of Famer for at least one more season and see what happens with a full offseason to make improvements to the roster.
The Los Angeles Clippers have been mentioned as a potential trade partner with the Celtics, and the return reportedly could include guard Eric Bledsoe and forward Caron Butler, per Sean Deveney of Sporting News. DeAndre Jordan was also rumored to be a trade chip (as noted by Bill Simmons).
Denver Post reporter Mark Kiszla also reported the Nuggets were interested in bringing in the All-Star to help bolster a potential playoff run in the Western Conference, but that Garnett would veto any potential trade to Colorado.
On Thursday, Ainge said it's unlikely the Celts will push to make a deal before the Feb. 21 deadline (h/t ESPNBoston.com). He said KG and Paul Pierce have more value to the Celtics than other teams because of their age, and he will have to be blown away by an offer to move either one of his storied Boston stars.
With the Celtics still in playoff contention and Garnett's contract a potential inhibitor, Ainge would do just fine to avoid trade talks and try to make a splash this summer instead.
Although the potential return from Los Angeles would be nice, it would also create a logjam at point guard when Rajon Rondo returns from injury. The potential for a Rondo-Jordan lob fest would be nice, but Jordan is an underdeveloped player on offense who wouldn't bring Garnett-like intensity to work every game.
If the Celtics can find a way to move some of the contracts they took on over the summer (namely guards Jason Terry and Courtney Lee), it would free up cap room and provide playing time for whoever Boston decides to select in the draft. Boston's six-game winning streak since Rondo went down with his ACL injury supports that plan of action.
While the Celtics would benefit from adding a few pieces before the playoffs, they won't benefit from subtracting Garnett from the equation.
Both long-term and short-term, he means too much to the franchise to move in a deal that only helps in the interim. Instead of panicking and blowing it up once and for all, the Celtics should hold on for dear life and not relinquish KG in a desperation move.
In the summer, Ainge will probably have to think long and hard about starting over in Boston. For now, he should let KG and the boys ride it out.