The Brooklyn Nets have some unfinished business. The roster was built to contend against the likes of the Miami Heat, and it fell woefully short, succumbing to Miami after just five games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Still, all indications have been — despite the drop in production this season — Garnett will be back in Brooklyn for what would be the 20th season of his stellar NBA career. The fact is $12 million is an awful lot of money – no matter how much you’ve made in the past – and after playing much, much better over the final few months of the season, it would be easy to see Garnett agreeing to rejoin Pierce for one final season in Brooklyn before riding off into the sunset next summer.
It's a little unclear what indications Bontemps is surveying here. He doesn't explicitly cite any sources, so we're chalking his conclusion up to speculation for now. Garnett didn't comment on a potential return when he had the opportunity after Game 5, and so far, no concrete rumors have emerged one way or the other.
Garnett has one more season left on his contract worth $12 million. If he doesn't retire, he'll either have to play for Brooklyn or push for a trade.
While there are reasons to believe a return is in order, there are considerations on both sides of the equation. Garnett has been far less effective than he was in his prime. There's also no guarantee Pierce will return to Brooklyn, potentially leaving Garnett without his closest friend on the team.
Garnett averaged just 6.5 points and 6.6 rebounds during a regular season in which he played in only 54 games due to injury. His performances in the playoffs were uneven at best.
Not everyone is in step with Bontemps' assessment. ESPNNewYork.com's Ohm Youngmisuk leans the other way:
Sources in and around the Nets' organization aren’t sure what Garnett will decide to do. He could very well take most of the offseason to make a decision and deservedly so. The odds seem to lean toward Garnett either leaving or retiring as of now. But as Garnett loves to say, anything is possible.
It's also somewhat unclear where Garnett would fit in with the Nets going forward. The team strayed away from big lineups for the latter half of the season, using KG as a center in place of the injured Brook Lopez. With Lopez returning, Garnett may be relegated to a role on the bench should he stick around.
The 38-year-old also has to determine whether he wants to drudge through another season only to suffer a similar fate in the playoffs. Given Brooklyn's lack of cap flexibility, what we've seen is essentially what we'll get—save for the fact that Lopez will be back next season. But even with Lopez, it's hard to see the Nets fairing much better against the East's elite.
Garnett considered retiring in 2013 before his and Pierce's trade to the Nets. He explained as much to reporters last summer when introduced in Brooklyn: "Absolutely, because I didn’t know Paul’s situation and where the Celtics were. Paul’s a huge part of playing together and accomplishing things, which makes this thing kind of bittersweet. We’re leaving one chapter and opening another."
That chapter could very well continue for a season longer, or this could be the end for Garnett.