A look into the Timberwolves offseason plans
Well here we are, it is July 1 and NBA free agency has just begun. The Timberpups decided to not extend qualifying offers to both Anthony Randolph and Michael Beasley, making the pair unrestricted free agents and meaning that they will most likely not be returning in Timberwolves uniforms next season. The club has also pushed back the team option deadlines on both Martell Webster and Brad Miller, as they look to include them in trades over the next few weeks. With potentially $20 million in cap space, Minnesota looks to be a major player in a strong free agent crop this summer.
The first round of free agents to get looks from the land of 10,000 lakes includes SG/SF Nic Batum, PF/C Jordan Hill, and C Greg Stiemsma. Reports are beginning to surface that the Twolves have offered restricted free agent Nic Batum a 4 year deal in the general vicinity of $45-50 million, despite Portland having the ability to match any offer sheet that Batum receives. Portland has three days to match the offer, and I would love to be optimistic, but there is really no way that Portland does not match Minnesota’s offer. Batum would be an ideal fit for the Wolves, as the 6’8″, 200 pounder is versatile enough to man either the 2 or 3 positions and is a workhorse on defense. The rising star is still only 23 and will most likely be a Trail Blazer for many years to come.
After being acquired by the Los Angeles Lakers at this season’s trade deadline, Jordan Hill played well down the stretch and into the Playoffs and will begin his free agency tour in Minneapolis on Monday. Hill is an excellent defender and rebounder and would instantly improve Minnesota’s interior defense, giving the team a shot-blocker they so desperately need. Hill is 24 years old and averaged 5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game with a strong 15.80 Player Efficiency Rating.
Greg Stiemsma enjoyed a strong rookie campaign and was a good fit for the defensive-minded Boston Celtics, and few remember that he was a member of the Timberwolves practice squad only a few seasons ago. Stiemsma made it to the big stage and will get looks from all over the NBA this summer, as there will always be a need for good defensive centers. He is a restricted free agent and Boston will have the opportunity to match any offer he gets, although they will likely only match relatively low offers as they are currently setting their sights on higher profile players including OJ Mayo.
Timberwolves brass has already met with unrestricted free agent Brandon Roy, and Roy also plans on meeting with Chicago, Indiana, Dallas, and Golden State before making a decision. Roy’s close friendship with Twolves assistant coach Bill Bayno is believed to be a major factor in Minnesota’s interest in the oft-injured former All-Star, and it is very up in the air which team Roy will choose to call his next home.
The pursuit of Laker’s PF Pau Gasol continues, and the Pups have already offered packages centered around last year’s number 2 overall pick Derrick Williams in order to land the Spaniard. Rick Adelman covets Gasol because of his fit in the corner offense, as he is a tremendous passer and shooter for his size. Gasol would be a good fit in Minnesota and the Wolves would boast an impressive frontcourt rotation of Love-Gasol-Pekovic should they acquire the 2-time World Champion. The only problem with Gasol is his price tag, as he is due nearly $38 million spanning the next two seasons. Los Angeles has already been offered Atlanta’s Josh Smith in return for Gasol, but many see Derrick Williams as a more attractive return due to his lower salary and younger age. Gasol will turn 32 this week, and some wonder how much gas he has left in the tank. However, Gasol’s close friendship with Ricky Rubio would give our young PG a mentor to help him continue to learn the NBA landscape.
Toronto PG Jose Calderon will likely receive the amnesty clause as the Raptors want to clear enough cap space in order to allow them to realistically pursue free agent PG Steve Nash. Calderon, also a Spaniard, is a relatively unknown player despite his impressive statistics. Calderon, who played with Rubio and Gasol for Spain’s national team, averaged remarkably similar numbers to Rubio (Calderon – 10.5 PPG, 8.8 APG, 3.0 RPG, Rubio – 10.6 PPG, 8.2 APG, 4.2 RPG). Calderon is close friends with both Rubio and Gasol and could be available for the Wolves to sign should they acquire Gasol. The Spanish PG has stated that he would like to play with Gasol in Los Angeles should he receive the amnesty clause, but if Gasol winds up in Minnesosta, we may see a Spanish fiesta in the Target center. Adding Calderon would give Minnesota insurance for Rubio’s comeback from ACL surgery and another great distributor to take some of the pressure off of Ricky.
Photo Credits: The Portland Roundball Society