Kevin Garnett’s first huge contract helped cause the 1998 NBA lockout. His second huge contract brought his career earnings to more than $270 million. He could lose as much as Antoine Walker did, twice, and still be a millionaire fifty times over.
But he’s also wise with his money. According to a report from NBA.com, Garnett deferred portions of his contract so he will earn $5 million per year for seven years even after his current contract ends.
In fact, Garnett’s self-funded pension (apart from his NBPA one) will be pretty plush. Two sources told NBA.com that the Celtics forward will still have $35 million coming after he retires. He’ll be due $5 million annually for seven years, the result of deferred salary Garnett and agent Andy Miller got in each of his last two contract extensions. Whatever portion is due from this season might be affected by games lost to the lockout, but it’s not as if Garnett’s financial spigot gets turned off next spring.
Garnett has made more than $15 million in each of the last twelve seasons. And that’s just from basketball. Add his endorsement deals, like Gatorade, Adidas and now Anta shoes, and Garnett is the Michael Phelps of money — just swimming in cash.
Money-wise, he can obviously afford to sit out this year in exchange for a fair Collective Bargaining Agreement. Money-wise, he can afford just about anything. But from a competitive standpoint, Garnett doesn’t have a lot left. If the NBA cancels this season — and I hate to think like this — Game 5 against the Heat might have been Garnett’s last game. After a full year off, at age 36 by then, would Garnett even attempt a comeback?
That’s why this NBA lockout sucks. We’re not just losing basketball games. We’re losing the end of Kevin Garnett’s career. We’re losing some of Kobe Bryant’s finals days as a dominating force. We’re losing Tim Duncan’s twilight, Lebron James’s revenge, Dirk Nowitzki’s title defense, Blake Griffin’s ascension to greatness and Dwight Howard’s prime. We’re missing John Wall growing up, Ricky Rubio’s debut, Kevin Love gobbling rebounds, Kevin Durant’s run at the throne, and Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony trying to co-exist. We’re missing portions of arguably the best era in NBA history, a three-tiered layer of stars, one attempting to defy age, another attempting to come of age, and another entering its absolute prime.
The amount Garnett is deferring for retirement represents 35% of the yearly difference between the players association and the owners. At least this lockout isn’t absurdly foolish or anything like that. Then this would really be a brutal time for an NBA fan.