After his team’s 116-104 victory over the Detroit Pistons, Brooklyn Nets coach Jason Kidd said that Kevin Garnett would travel with the team to Philadelphia for their Saturday night game against the Philadelphia 76ers, and may play for the first time in over a month.
“He felt better today,” Kidd said. “We’ll see how his plane ride goes, and then we’ll see in the morning how he feels. We would like to try to get him to go tomorrow, but it’s up to him.”
Kidd added that he wasn’t sure what Garnett’s role would be if he did return. “I just want to make sure that he’s going to go, then we’ll sit down and talk about if he starts or comes off the bench.” Garnett hasn’t come off the bench in an NBA game since January 27th, 1996.
The plane ride note may have been a reference to New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who sat out Friday night’s Yankees game after a plane ride Yankees manager Joe Girardi called a “knuckleball express.” But the plane ride between New York and Philadelphia is less than an hour, so it’s hard to imagine that having a significant impact.
Garnett hasn’t played since a 12-minute stint against the Denver Nuggets on February 27th, battling back spasms. He was slated to return in mid-March against the Toronto Raptors, and was even written into the starting lineup, but felt a tightness in his back during team warmups and was scratched from the lineup shortly before tipoff.
The Nets are 14-5 since Garnett’s injury, but Kidd said he’s not worried about re-integrating Garnett into the lineup, and the team wants Garnett back as quickly as possible.
“Kevin is a professional,” Kidd added. He’s been doing it for a million years, so there’s nothing to worry about.”
“Huge,” Nets guard Deron Williams said of Garnett’s potential return. “I mean, we’ve got, what, seven games left? So it gives him a chance to get into a rhythm, and get back in playing shape. It definitely means a lot to have him back, we want him back as soon as possible. If that’s tomorrow, great.”