Year-Round News & Updates on the Minnesota Timberwolves
One year ago, David Kahn swung and missed on Nicolas Batum and bounced back quickly with a two-year $20million contract offer to versatile defensive forward Andrei Kirilenko. The second year of that deal was a $10.2million player option.
Kirilenko had until today (June 29) by 11:59pmCT to make a decision on whether he'll opt-in and take the guaranteed money for 2013-14 and become a free agent in 2014-15 OR opt-out of that player option, turning down the guaranteed eight-figure sum and hit free agency this summer.
Kirilenko and his agent decided this afternoon that Andrei will be opting for free agency this summer seeking a 3-4 year deal that guarantees less money immediately, but more money guaranteed money 'down the road'.
Kirilenko says he'll definitely consider the Timberwolves, but will also listen to the other 29 NBA teams as well.
Most local media members believe that Saunders will offer him a 2-3 year deal worth nowhere near the $10million he made in 2012-13. A return to Minnesota is definitely in the cards, but it's far from a sure thing.
One thing is clear, the Minnesota Timberwolves now have two holes in their starting lineup: shooting guard AND small forward. The Wolves have three players that can play small forward, currently on the roster. Derrick Williams is a combo forward/tweener that lacks the foot speed and defensive instincts to guard small forwards as well as the ball handling skills to break down his defenders off the dribble and a willingness to move the ball and find open teammates. Mickael Gelabale started a number of games when Kirilenko was out of the lineup last season, but he's DEFINITELY not the answer as the starting three. With an non-guaranteed contract for 2013-14, there's a very slim chance he's on the roster come opening day. Lastly, the Wolves lone lottery selection in the 2013 NBA Draft: Shabazz Muhammad. He's an unknown, the offensive skill set is there. He still needs some ball handling work and needs to expand his range out to the NBA three. He has potential to be a solid defender thanks to that 6'11" wingspan and foot speed. At 6'6" he may be slightly undersized as an NBA small forward. The Wolves will look to re-sign Chase Budinger in free agency and while he could definitely be the Wolves' starting small forward, Minnesota may look in free agency or (more likely) via trade.
This all assuming Kirilenko doesn't come back to Minnesota, which is still a real possibility. Free Agency begins on July 1st and free agents can officially sign contracts on July 10th, so there'll be plenty of more news in the next couple weeks.
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