BOSTON While no timetable has been set, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers anticipates the C's will have an answer soon as to what Kevin Garnett plans to do next season.
The free agent big man has had talks with Rivers as well as Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, since the C's season ended at the hand of the NBA champion Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.
"I hope he comes back, and I think he will," said Rivers, a featured speaker at Fenway Park on Tuesday during the first annual Sports Leadership Breakfast to Benefit thePositive Coaching Alliance.
Rivers added, "I have no basis for that. I just believe that he will."
With the No. 21 and No. 22 picks in the first round, Garnett's potential return will have no bearing on their draft plans.
"It's not like we have the No. 1 pick," Rivers said. "When you're in the 20s, you just wait and see what comes to you. I think this is a great draft. Where we're picking, we'll be able to get two very good players."
While Garnett has been mum for weeks - he did not speak to the media after the C's Game 7 loss at Miami and was fined 25,000 by the NBA - sources throughout the league are banking on him coming back for a 17th tour of duty in the NBA.
Earlier this season, Garnett talked about being an NBA lifer - something he never envisioned for himself.
"Duration is everything, man. To be able still, to be playing on this level, it says a lot," Garnett said. "It's not like I'm playing on some grand level, but I am playing on a decent level to where it's helping the team and I'm still trying to create different edges and different matchups and different mismatches night-in, night-out. And I still have a brain; I still know how to think this game. There's different formats of the game for me at this point. and I'm still enjoying the game. As long as those components are still a part, then I'm good."
And with Garnett, the C's are good - very good.
He knows this.
So do the Celtics.
But they also understand that this season probably took more out of Garnett physically than any of his previous 15.
When you combine the lockout-shortened season with him playing more at the center position - and with that, dealing with more physical players - it was clear near the end of the Miami series that the physical toll of a long season was starting to catch up with him.
That's why the C's are mindful not to push him too hard, too quickly for a response.
"He'll let us know soon enough," Rivers said. "Him and Danny (Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations) and that group are talking. That's all you can ask for."
If Garnett is back, Rivers said he will once again play primarily at the center position unless the Celtics draft, trade for or sign a talented center whose presence would allow Garnett to go play his more natural power forward position.
And while the C's want to give Garnett all the time he needs, both sides understand that a decision will have to be made sooner rather than later on his future.
"It's amazing that he has to make a decision already," Rivers said. "But that's the rules. It'd be nice if he could go home and detox from the season. Unfortunately the way we do this, it's not allowed. You have to make a decision quickly. I think that's very difficult; I really do."
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