The Cleveland Cavaliers shot their shot, and they missed.
After Andrew Bogut suffered his season-ending leg injury less than one minute into his Cavs tenure, head coach Tyronn Lue apparently tried coaxing Kevin Garnett out of retirement. Here’s what Lue told Dave McMenamin on ESPN’s NBA Lockdown podcast (via Dan Devine of Yahoo Sports):
McMenamin: After Bogut left the franchise, I heard that there was a certain former MVP that was discussed as a potential replacement for him.
Lue: I don’t know who that is. (laughs)
McMenamin: Is that right? No?
Lue: Who was it? Who was it? (laughs)
McMenamin: Not a guy you used to coach in Boston?
Lue: It was crazy. I talked to him right before we signed Edy, and I was like, “Man, you should come back and play for me.” […] And he’s like, “Man, y’all got a lot going on over there.” That was before we hit our stride the way we’re playing well now. But he was like, “If you and [former Boston Celtics teammate and current Cavs assistant coach James] Posey were still playing, I would come.” He said, “But you’re coaching, and y’all going through what you’re going through.” He said, “Ahh, I’m going to sit this one out.” I said, “OK, we’ll call you next year.” He started laughing and whatever. And then his wife Brandi said, “I heard you’re trying to get Kevin to come back and play.” I said, “I think next year, we might be able to talk him into coming and playing about eight minutes a game.”
Can’t blame Lue and the Cavaliers for trying, right?
Garnett may not have ever seen the court. Or maybe he would have. The Eastern Conference is weird. And the Cavaliers are thin up front behind Tristan Thompson and Channing Frye. He could have seen some spot time as an in-game defensive coach.
But most of his value would have come in being an emotional bellwether. He and LeBron James would keep the Cavaliers in check, ensuring they didn’t become complacent or hang their heads when the going got tough. Having him, James and Lue all in the same locker room would have made for an interesting motivational-speaker dynamic. Throw James Jones into that fray, too.
Of course, the Cavaliers have yet to face real adversity. They’re 5-0 in the playoffs thus far, and James has proved more than capable of rallying his troops when it matters most. Case in point: The Cavaliers erased the largest halftime deficit in NBA history (25 points) in Game 3 of their first-round matchup with the Indiana Pacers. If they didn’t need another alpha then, they won’t need one for the rest of the postseason—until, perhaps, they reach the NBA Finals.
That’s when Garnett would have been at his most important. Another meet-up with the Golden State Warriors likely awaits, and while Garnett wouldn’t have been able to stay on the floor for more than a few seconds at a time in that series, he’d have left his impact as a pseudo-coach and Warriors trash-talker from the bench.
Ah, well. Edy Tavares will have to do.