- Kevin Garnett retired after 21 seasons, 1 MVP, 1 championship, and is now a Hall of Famer.
- He also retired as the highest-paid player in NBA history and is still second behind only LeBron James.
- Garnett was talented, but he was also the right player, in the right place, at the right time.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Kevin Garnett was an MVP, a 15-time All-Star and a four-time first-team All-NBA. He won a championship with the 2007-2008 Boston Celtics. He also retired having made $326 million in his career, the second-most in NBA history.
Let’s take a look at how, more than once, Garnett was just the right player, in the right place, at the right time.
At 19, he chose to enter the NBA draft after failing to reach the minimum score on the ACT necessary for NCAA eligibility.
The Minnesota Timberwolves made Garnett the fifth pick of the 1995 NBA Draft.
Ten years later, the NBA banned high-school players from the draft and players like Greg Oden and Kevin Durant had to go to college for one year.
Garnett’s three-year, $5.4 million rookie contract was modest by today’s standards, and he made just $1.6 million his rookie season.
Garnett was incredibly lucky to be drafted in 1995, which came during a brief period in which players were granted free agency after just three years.
This allowed Garnett to sign a six-year, $126 million extension during the 1997-1998 season at the age of 21.
With Garnett’s contract a major factor, the NBA changed the rules on rookie contracts and put a cap on player salaries, but not until a new Collective Bargaining Agreement was reached following the 1999 lockout.
Source: “The Wages of Wins“
By the final year of that deal, Garnett was making $28 million a year.
More importantly, Garnett was just 27 years old, was in the midst of his only MVP season, and was about to become a free agent for a second time.
This led to his second $100 million contract extension with the Timberwolves, a five-year deal worth exactly $100 million.
After the third year of that contract, Garnett was traded to the Celtics having already made $181 million with the Timberwolves. He was just 31 years old.
The Celtics immediately gave Garnett a three-year, $51.3 million extension to be added to the two years remaining on his last deal with the T-wolves.
It was with the Celtics that Kevin Garnett won his only NBA title in 2008.
Garnett nearly retired after the 2011-2012 season with $282 million in career earnings.
However, he decided to re-sign with the Celtics with a three-year, $36 million contract as Boston tried to make one more run with their aging roster.
After one season on the new contract, Garnett was traded to the Brooklyn Nets in a blockbuster deal that included eight players and three first-round draft picks.
That trade turned into a complete disaster in just the second season. Garnett was the final asset the Nets had from the trade and it was clear it was time to move on.
Source: Business Insider
Garnett came full-circle and agreed a trade to send him home to the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2015.
At the time, the plan was to play two more seasons for the rebuilding T-wolves and then form a group with coach and team president Flip Saunders to buy the team using the more than $300 million he had already made as a player.
Source: Business Insider
Garnett decided to play at least one more season and possibly two, signing a two-year contract worth $16 million.
Garnett, who was 40 at the time, decided not to play the second year of the contract. As part of that deal, he was given the option to take a front-office job for the 2016-2017 season.
Garnett walked away from his playing days, having made $326.3 million in his storied career. That is just slightly more than Kobe Bryant, who retired having made $323.3 million. LeBron James recently passed Garnett for the most all-time with $340 million.