EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - If Kevin Garnett needed motivation to play another season, recent chats with retirees Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace likely provided the perfect incentive.
"Stackhouse came in here the other day," the Nets forward said Monday. "He and I came out in the same class, so it kind of put things in perspective. Talked to 'Sheed the other day, he was home on the couch being fat. So it definitely puts things in perspective.''
Prep work for Garnett's 20th NBA season, which elevates him into rarefied air, began earlier than usual in the summer, and the next phase begins Tuesday night when the Nets host Maccabi Tel Aviv in their preseason opener. Precisely how many minutes the 38-year-old will log, particularly with the team set to hop on a plane for a 14-hour flight to China on Wednesday for two preseason games against the Kings, isn't a huge deal at this point.
Neither is the notion of playing on back-to-back nights, which is not an issue in the preseason. But that hot-button topic came up on numerous occasions last season under Jason Kidd, raising a flurry of questions.
"It still is," Garnett said, drawing laughs.
Garnett mostly sat out the second half of back-to-backs a season ago, but Nets coach Lionel Hollins has no plans to do so in 2014-15, explaining that it's something Hollins never has done unless it was near the tail end of the regular season leading into the playoffs.
Hollins also has said that Garnett's minutes, which dipped to a career-low average of 20.5 last season, are certain to increase during the future Hall of Famer's second season in Brooklyn. That's fine with Garnett.
"It's all good," said Garnett, who missed 19 games battling back spasms a season ago and will earn $12 million this season in the final year of his contract. "We are not predicated to anything. I think what he's saying is he wants me out there. Times where I need the rest, I think he will provide it for me. But we are not going to preset anything. We are going to go through this thing as if we never went through last year, as if I'm still playing for Doc [Rivers] or Flip [Saunders] or whoever. I prepared myself for it mentally and I'm ready for it."
Hollins isn't big on overthinking. He prefers to keep things as simple as possible, essentially coaching by feel. So that will be how he'll handle the delicate balancing act with Garnett.
"We just told him," Hollins said, "that there will be times when I take him out early, there will be times when I take him out a little bit later in the quarter, there will be times when I take him out when the game is at hand in the end, where I don't need him. I just play it by ear. I don't get into the planning.
"I haven't sat in my office and said, 'OK, I've got to chart out minutes and times that KG will be on the court or not be on the court.' And he'll tell me sometimes. It works both ways."
Garnett, who's set to join Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Robert Parish and Kevin Willis as the lone players with at least 20 seasons in the league, is appreciative of the give-and-take with Hollins. The bounce-back isn't the same once Father Time starts visiting, and Garnett is going to make sure he doesn't push himself to a place that will cause him to start breaking down physically.
"It's my body, so I have a lot to say about my body," Garnett said. "Understand that. I'm not a rookie. No one is going to tell me anything that I'm going to do with this body here. Last year, Jason was just kind of taking a [page] from himself and coming from a similar situation. We were on the same page with that. A lot of people didn't like it, but they weren't the ones hurting and aching.
Notes & quotes: Alan Anderson (strained right abdominal) missed a fourth straight practice and has been ruled out tonight. It's a safe bet that Bojan Bogdanovic will start alongside Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez and Garnett.