Minnesota Timberwolves Free Agency Primer

Nov 27, 2015; Sacramento, CA, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins (22), guard Zach LaVine (8), forward Kevin Garnett (21) and center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) look on during a timeout against the Sacramento Kings during the third quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The The Timberwolves won 101-91. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 27, 2015; Sacramento, CA, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins (22), guard Zach LaVine (8), forward Kevin Garnett (21) and center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) look on during a timeout against the Sacramento Kings during the third quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The The Timberwolves won 101-91. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /

Tonight at midnight, the biggest portion of the NBA Offseason begins. It will be interesting to see what moves the Minnesota Timberwolves make to strengthen their chances at ending their long playoff drought.

Tonight is when the madness of the NBA Offseason begins. Free Agency starts at midnight eastern time and the Minnesota Timberwolves will try to fill one of the few holes they have on their roster.

With a young up and coming team, the Timberwolves will try to add another veteran presence to their roster to help them take the next step in their rebuild process. There are many interesting free agent fits who could be very beneficial for the Wolves.

Most years the Timberwolves are a long shot to sign any big name free agents in the summer. There are multiple reasons in which big name players do not decide to make the move to Minneapolis.

First off, it is hard to sell a big name star free agent on a team that has had a twelve-year playoff drought. In the franchise’s history, there have not been many big free agents who have come via free agency. Most free agency signings that the Timberwolves have made are players that are far past their primes. Any of the bigger name players the Timberwolves have acquired have been through trades and not on their own decision.

Next, the weather has always played a key part of why the franchise has not been able to lure free agents. Anyone who lives in Minnesota knows how harsh the winters can be and when you put them against locations like Miami, or Los Angeles, that becomes a big factor in the decision making process.

Another thing that most forget to realize is the money. As the Timberwolves have plenty of cap space, especially with the cap going up this offseason and next, the state of Minnesota has the third highest tax rate for professional basketball players in the country. In comparison to states like Florida, Texas, and Tennessee that have no tax, this is a factor in the decision making process for players.

Now with the Timberwolves holding a stable full of young talent, there is much more of a selling point for the front office to make for players coming to Minneapolis. They have the cap space to accommodate a large contract, and their window to become contenders in just opening. Add a big name free agent difference maker, and this team could be in contention even faster.

Looking at the Timberwolves depth chart, we can determine the holes on this team and where they have room for a free agent pickup.

Point Guard: Ricky Rubio, Tyus Jones, Kris Dunn

Shooting Guard: Zach Lavine

Small Forward: Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad

Power Forward: Kevin Garnett, Nemanja Bjelica, Adreian Payne

Center: Karl-Anthony Towns, Gorgui Dieng, Nikola Pekovic

This does not include Damjan Rudez, who has a team option that is rumored not to be picked up, and Tayshaun Prince or Greg Smith, who have expiring contracts.

With the draft filling the hole at backup point guard, now there is an obvious hole at backup shooting guard. If a backup shooting guard can be signed, it would be preferable that he has a consistent outside shot, as that was one of the Timberwolves biggest downfalls last season.

Next looking at the Power Forward spot, Kevin Garnett is a great veteran presence on this team but he can not be relied on to play meaningful minutes next season. As Nemanja Bjelica showed some promise last season, it is not a sure thing that he is ready to take over the starting spot opposite Towns. If that spot can not be filled, they could choose to go the direction they did last season and put Towns and Power Forward and Dieng at Center, all though Towns is a better fit to play Center himself. The Timberwolves could look to find a stretch four with a nice perimeter shot to help space the floor.

In the last episode of “The Scoop” podcast, local sports writer Darren Wolfson put together a list of the free agents he has heard that the Timberwolves will be targeting in the free agency period. If you are into Minnesota Sports, this is the guy that you want to follow to get inside information. Listen to the full podcast in the link above. Here is a full list of the players.

  • Ryan Anderson
  • Courtney Lee
  • Luol Deng
  • Joakim Noah
  • DJ Augustin
  • Kris Humphries
  • Eric Gordon
  • Randy Foye
  • Mindaugas Kuzminskas (Lithuanian forward)

This is an interesting list of players and do not doubt that there is serious interest in these players if Wolfson says so.

Ryan Anderson makes a lot of sense here in a stretch four who can fit nicely next to Towns. Anderson is known for his rebounding and most of all his outside shot. He will be asking for a big deal as the premium for bigs who can shoot the three is higher than ever.

Courtney Lee would be a great fit for this team as the backup shooting guard behind Lavine. Known as a great defender Wolfson mentioned that Lee will be looking for $14M/year.

Luol Deng is another great fit for this team. A versatile player who can play multiple positions, but would fit nicely as a stretch four next to Towns. His history with Head Coach Tom Thibodeau could play a part in Deng coming to Minneapolis.

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Joakim Noah seems like a reach. Yes, there was a time in which he received MVP votes and was one of the NBA’s top defenders, but that was years ago. Spending most of the last year injured, the Timberwolves to not need to sign Noah to a big contract hoping that he can return to his old form from three years ago.

Eric Gordon, also injury prone, could be a nice fit as the backup shooting guard. Gordon would add a nice threat to the perimeter shooting of the Wolves.

It would be a great fit if the Timberwolves went after Jordan Clarkson, who is a restricted free agent. He has a nice perimeter shot and is an amazing athlete. He would also fit the timeline of the current Wolves roster.

Nicolas Batum would be a great fit in Minneapolis, all though it will be a long shot to pry him away from Charlotte where he will receive a max deal and be one of the leaders of the franchise.

Kent Bazemore would also be a nice fit with the Wolves, all though I am not sure that the front office will be willing to spend the type of money it will take to get him to come to town.

Marvin Williams is a name to keep an eye on. He is not the top tier guy, but could be a great contributor to this team. He is a big who could fit right in with what Minnesota is trying to do.

Allen Crabbe, all though a restricted free agent who Portland will probably match an offer sheet on, would be a nice fit as the backup behind Lavine and bring some size and outside shooting.

OJ Mayo, who the Wolves originally drafted and sent to Milwaukee for Kevin Love, would be a nice low money signing. He has shown glimpses of being a nice second team player.

The Timberwolves will be open to signing some free agents, but do not expect a big splash. It will be at least a year before we can lure big names to Minnesota. Star players will want to see if the promise we show actually plays out before uprooting their life to move to the frozen tundra.

With the small point guard free agent market, there will be teams making trade offers for Ricky Rubio if they miss out on their desired free agent point guard. Rubio is still viewed around the league as a top-tier point guard, and with the salary cap going up, Rubio’s $13M/year contract will look like pennies. Expect teams to be making calls.

Next: Wiggins and Lavine Putting in Work this Offseason

Overall, there is not a lot of room on the Timberwolves roster for free agents. Also looking at the history of the free agency of this team, do not expect any big moves from the team tomorrow. Do not expect the front office to break the bank for anyone either. Playing it conservative is the smart way to go. This should be fun though.