Here’s something you don’t hear every day about a 38-year-old.
Kevin Garnett will play more.
Garnett mostly sat out the second half of back-to-backs a season ago, but Nets coach Lionel Hollins has no plans to do so in 2014-15, explaining that it’s something Hollins never has done unless it was near the tail end of the regular season leading into the playoffs.
Hollins also has said that Garnett’s minutes, which dipped to a career-low average of 20.5 last season, are certain to increase during the future Hall of Famer’s second season in Brooklyn. That’s fine with Garnett.
“It’s all good,” said Garnett, who missed 19 games battling back spasms a season ago and will earn $12 million this season in the final year of his contract. “We are not predicated to anything. I think what he’s saying is he wants me out there. Times where I need the rest, I think he will provide it for me. But we are not going to preset anything. We are going to go through this thing as if we never went through last year, as if I’m still playing for Doc [Rivers] or Flip [Saunders] or whoever. I prepared myself for it mentally and I’m ready for it.”
Of the 102 37-year-olds to play a season before last year, just 23 increased their minutes per game at age 38. Just 20 38-year-olds played more than Garnett’s 20.5 minutes per game last season.
And in all honesty, those numbers are higher than I expected.
Maybe Garnett’s playing time dipped too much last season. After all, 20.5 minutes per game are a big drop from the 29.7 he played at 36.
But he’s reaching an age where it’s increasingly tough to stay healthy and productive in a major role. I understand the inclination to limit his minutes, even if Jason Kidd might have gone too far.
This could be an overcorrection, though. Garnett is talking about playing beyond this season, and Hollins will start him. Nobody is hedging.
The Nets have depth at power forward and center with Brook Lopez, Mason Plumlee, Andrei Kirilenko and Mirza Teletovic. They can afford to limit Garnett’s playing time.
Maybe 20.5 minutes per game for a 37-year-old Garnett were too few, but 20.5 minutes per game for a 38-year-old Garnett xould be just right. Or maybe he can handle a little more.
But I’d ease him into a larger role before declaring it a certainty he’s ready for it at his age.