MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Kevin Garnett is not expected to play in the Minnesota Timberwolves' season finale on Wednesday night, the 21st time he will sit out in 26 games since he made an emotional homecoming in February.
Wolves coach and president of basketball operations Flip Saunders actually thinks that last absence will be a good sign.
Saunders said on Monday that he thinks Garnett trying to play against Oklahoma City despite lingering knee pain would be a sign that he was calling it a career after 20 NBA seasons.
''If he plays, to me it would be an indication that he didn't want to play next year,'' Saunders said. ''He's looking at this as not being over. He doesn't want to do anything for one or two games to jeopardize or throw him back to not be able to really start and get ready.''
Garnett spent his first 12 seasons in Minnesota before leaving to win a title with the Boston Celtics. He spent 1 1/2 forgettable years in Brooklyn before Saunders reacquired him in a trade for Thaddeus Young. Garnett's return brought an initial jolt to a franchise that had fallen on hard times since he left in 2007.
He was greeted by a thunderous welcome in his first home game on Feb. 25, but he only played in four more thanks to pain in his knees and an illness. The Wolves entered the game Monday night tied with the Knicks for fewest wins in the NBA with 16.
Garnett will be a free agent in July. The Associated Press reported when the trade happened that the Wolves wanted to bring Garnett back after this season and that this was more than just one last farewell tour. Garnett said when he came back that he would take some time this summer to think about his future before making a decision about possibly returning for a 21st season.
Saunders said he expects Garnett will make a decision quickly.
''In the past couple years, everyone was always wondering is KG coming back? I think he kind of weighed it over the course of each summer,'' Saunders said. ''I believe now if he's coming back, he's going to let it be known he's going to come back and he's going to let it be known that he's going to start preparing for next year like he does. He's not going to wait until September or August.''