Garnett: Waiting for the Truth

Garnett: Waiting for the Truth
May 4, 2013, 1:45 am
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BOSTON — With the Boston Celtics' fate all but sealed in the closing seconds of New York's 88-80 series-clinching win on Friday night, Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers had a brief but emotional exchange afterwards.

Although both are under contract for next season, each has made it clear that their return next season is not a given.

Rivers said as of now he's coming back, but Garnett was far less committal on the subject.

And one of the main reasons for that?

Paul Pierce, whose return with the C's is far less certain and may have a direct impact on Garnett's decision to retire or return to Boston.

The Celtics can buy out the final year of Pierce's contract for $5 million, or bring him back at the price tag of $15.3 million.

Danny Ainge told CSNNE.com that whichever direction the Celtics franchise goes with Pierce, it will not be an easy decision to make.

"What's important to understand, yeah, it's going to be hard for fans and everybody else but as far as what's doing what's best for the Celtics, it's probably going to be very hard, too," Ainge told CSNNE.com. "It's not a no-brainer. It's not like you get a 21-year-old All-star player or you get the number one pick in the draft. Those decisions would not be hard, but I have a feeling the decision is going to be very hard, yeah."

While Garnett said he hasn't given much thought to next season, the thought of being a Celtic without Pierce is clearly something he wants to avoid.

"One of the big reasons I came here was because of Paul," said Garnett who has been friends with Pierce since the two were high school all-stars. "I'll be honest, I'll be lying to you if I said Paul didn't play into that."

As much as Jason Terry enjoyed playing with Garnett this season, he's not about to try and put any added pressure on him to return for what would be a 19th NBA season.

"Whatever he's going to do is up to him," Terry said. "He's earned the right to make a decision. I think he's signed for two more years here, as am I. So, I'd hate to see him go. I hope he's not thinking that. Again, it's solely up to him; it's on him. No pressure from this side of the locker room, just again, honored to play alongside a great [player] like him."

Although Garnett just finished the first year of three-year, $36 million contract, every summer is one in which the Celtics legend may decide to call it quits.

Often players base such decisions on their ability or inability to play at a high level or a level that they're accustomed to.

Based on how he performed in Boston's first-round series against New York, there's still plenty of good basketball left in his 36-year-old body.

In Friday's loss, Garnett had 15 points on 7-for-10 shooting to go with 10 rebounds. It was his fifth straight double-double.

But Garnett's return will take into account other factors as well.

"Obviously you know you want to be in a situation where it's better, want to make sure I can always help the team, want to be in position to where I'm giving something. I demand a lot of myself, both physically and from a skill level."

And while Garnett may not be the same player he was a few years ago, it's clear as day that the perennial all-star can still play at a fairly high level.

However, a slew of injuries late in the season led to Garnett having to miss games so that he could be as fresh as he was for the playoffs.

Knowing what Garnett has put his body through to prepare for the playoffs, and for him to elevate his game the way that he did, makes the end of this season all that tougher to accept.

"He is as tough of a guy, as tough of a competitor, than I've ever been around," Rivers said. "Rebounding and just doing everything for this team. I really didn't want him to go out that way on our court. I mean, I just didn't want him to. Obviously we lost to a better team, but for him, in particular, I just didn't want him to go out that way. But he's a winner. He's the best; the best I've seen."

And while Rivers' comments might have had the scent of a retirement spiel, when pressed about whether his comments meant that Garnett was done as a Celtic, "No," Rivers said. "I meant this season."

But when it comes to gauging what Garnett's next move will be, the initial confusion over Rivers' comments is understandable.

However, all involved know that a decision of that importance should not be made tonight, not with the pain of having their season end so soon still fresh on the mind.

"Doc came to me, pulled Paul and I to the side and all three of us agreed to speak later," Garnett said. "Too emotional. Obviously it was a big game, a tough loss, especially at home."

But as far as his future with the Celtics?

"It's a different day for that conversation," Garnett said.