By: Tim Parochka
Each NBA organization has had multiple franchise changing players, except one.
The Los Angeles Lakers had Magic, Kareem, Wilt, the Logo, Shaq, and Kobe. The Boston Celtics had Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Paul Pierce. Even small market teams like the Phoenix Suns, Milwaukee Bucks, and the San Antonio Spurs have had several.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have one. That one player has accumulated 8 playoff appearances, 17 career playoff wins, and a most valuable player award.
Kevin Garnett is the only franchise-changing player in the organization's history.
Did Kevin Love change the franchise? Did the Wolves ever win more than 40 games with Love? How many playoff games did the Wolves appear in with Kevin Love?
Only one player in the history of the NBA can say: "yeah, this is my franchise and mine alone."
Will a player who poured his heart and soul into the game of basketball return for his 22nd NBA season? Will a player who once cried on national television because he hated to lose, retire? Will a player who needed to be convinced to leave a team headed nowhere in 2007-08 - due to his loyalty - be the leader of that team for one more season?
Garnett still makes a large impact defensively. The statistical differences with him on the floor versus on the bench are astronomical. But can he still play? That's the question we are all unsure of. Can Garnett play at least 60 games next year if he chooses to comeback?
His decision is unknown to everyone -- including himself.
KG's body is old and worn down, but there are a few things intriguing 'The Big Ticket' which have him weighing the options:
1) Being a part of a Minnesota Timberwolves playoff team. 2) Karl-Anthony Towns. 3) His relationship with Tom Thibodeau 4) $8 million.
A big part of me cannot help but think how different this process would be if Flip Saunders hadn't passed away last year. Flip was tremendously valuable to this organization because the playoff appearances, playoff wins, and one most valuable player award happened with Flip leading the way. Garnett is the most valuable piece this organization has ever had, but Flip Saunders is second. Furthermore, Garnett isn't waiving his no-trade clause and 'coming home' if Flip wasn't the coach and President of Basketball Operations.
We know Garnett has interest in management, ownership or both within the Minnesota Timberwolves' organization. Without Flip, KG's future with the Wolves is uncertain. Perhaps, the meetings KG has had with owner Glen Taylor this off-season have been about his future with the team more than this upcoming season.
Minnesota wouldn't even have a professional basketball team without Garnett. Glen Taylor would have no reason to keep the team if he hadn't seen how successful they were with Garnett.
This isn't KG's team. This is KG's franchise -- and no other player can say that.