Garnett sits as Nets bounce Timberwolves behind Johnson's 22

By on March 17, 2015

Still, the good trade in February doesn’t negate the bad trade in 2013 for Garnett and Paul Pierce. It also reignites the questions that were prominent before GM Billy King’s ill-fated deal with the Celtics: Who is the Nets’ leader? Who is speaking up with the Nets losing five of their last seven, falling to 11th in the Eastern

Conference while currently sitting 2½ games out of a playoff spot?

There’s a lot more oxygen in the gym without Garnett, but the Deron Williams-Joe Johnson-Brook Lopez trio has never incited much passion. It’s a big reason Garnett and

Pierce were able to quickly take over the locker room after their arrival in Brooklyn – during training camp that year, in fact.

“(Garnett) was always in charge,” Nets center Mason Plumlee said.

Williams was supposed to assume that mantle after signing a five-year deal in 2012, but he has been injured, deteriorating on the court and often detached from the group. Williams also gave up his title as the Nets’ union rep to Plumlee, 25, who is only in his second season out of Duke.

Thaddeus Young (l.) comes to Brooklyn in the Kevin Garnett trade, which for Minnesota is more about helping mold young player like Andrew Wiggins (r.).David Sherman/NBAE/Getty Images

Thaddeus Young (l.) comes to Brooklyn in the Kevin Garnett trade, which for Minnesota is more about helping mold young player like Andrew Wiggins (r.).

Lopez and Johnson are both soft-spoken, preferring to stay in the background.

“(Garnett) was our leader, vocally, by example, just every day,” said Plumlee, who recounted a story about Garnett assuming the role of unforgiving veteran to the younger players.

“Last year he tied (former Nets point guard) Tyshawn Taylor up in some ropes and threw him in the shower. He knew it was coming. Tyshawn can’t be mad because he brought it on himself. …I also had rookie duties, got put in my place a couple times. But it was all in good fun.”

Garnett is now serving that role with one of the youngest teams in the NBA.

“They looked at (Garnett the first day), it was like little kids looking at Santa Claus coming down the chimney,” Saunders said. “Their eyes were wide open and they were looking in disbelief.” 

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