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.
The Minnesota Timberwolves did the expected today as they picked up the team option on Dante Cunningham for the 2013-14 NBA season.
Dante will make roughly $2.1million a year.
Cunningham was an integral part of the Timberwolves in 2012-13. He was very valuable as a versatile utility player on both ends of the court--off the bench for the Wolves.
Assuming Derrick Williams is on the roster next season, Cunningham is pegged as the third-string power forward going into the season. Adelman is a clear fan of Dante and despite him being the third-string power forward, Rick will find time for him in the rotation.
In an injury-riddled 2012-13, Cunningham played 80 of 82 games (missing two non-consecutive games because of illness). He also posted career-highs in scoring (8.7ppg), rebounds (5.1rpg), assists (0.8apg) and minutes (25.1mpg).
With Dante coming back the Wolves now have the following with guaranteed contracts for 2013-14: Ricky Rubio, Luke Ridnour, J.J. Barea, Alexey Shved, Shabazz Muhammad, Kevin Love, Derrick Williams, Dante Cunningham, Gorgui Dieng and Chris Johnson. Mickael Gelabale & Greg Stiemsma have non-guaranteed deals. Andrei Kirilenko has until tomorrow (June 29th) to decline or accept his $10million player option. Chase Budinger is an unrestricted free agent and Nikola Peković is a restricted free agent.
Today at 2:30pmCT the Minnesota Timberwolves will introduce first-round draft picks Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng to the organization, the local media and #WolvesNation.
I'm not the greatest with numbers, but by my calculations--based on comments on draft stories and the Twitter buzz, I'd say #WolvesNation is split 70-30. 70% are puzzled, disgruntled and just plain angry that the Wolves selected rumored 'headcase' Shabazz Muhammad and 23-year-old big man Gorgui Dieng. The other 30% understand how these pieces fit and are excited to see what they can bring to the table.
I'm most definitely part of the 30%. Sure, I would've liked to have landed one of the Top 2 shooting guards: Victor Oladipo and (especially) Ben McLemore who went #2 & #7. Much like Flip Saunders, the Wolves front office and almost every mock draft out there, I was fairly confident that barring a last minute trade the Wolves would land Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at #9. Instead the Pistons swoop in and scoop him up with the #8 pick (despite not even having him in for a workout and already having Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey at the two-guard).
So, with Oladipo, McLemore and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope off the board it was looking like we'd continue to have an undersized backcourt and go with the Draft's best shooter C.J. McCollum. If it was anybody else we knew it'd be a trade. It was someone else (Trey Burke) and there was a trade (with Utah).
That's how the Wolves landed picks 14 & 21 and took Muhammad & Dieng.
Why I'm excited...
The Wolves land Muhammad. A versatile scorer who will play both the 2 and the 3. With Kevin Love & Nikola Pekovic (hopefully) on the roster and being the main contributors to the scoring column, Shabazz will be a third-to-fourth option at best. He isn't going to be asked to carry this team. His a complementary piece. For those concerns about his attitude? We know that Rick Adelman, Kevin Love & Ricky Rubio simply won't put up with it. Michael Beasley had attitude and didn't try on defense, Rick Adelman simply refused to play him. That should be the first thing the Wolves tell him: If you don't commit to playing defense and lose the attitude, you simply won't play, period. Bazzy (yes...I like that...) also needs to work on his three-point shot (which Timberwolf doesn't?) as well as his ball handling. Muhammad has a very high work ethic (according to Flip) and is a self-proclaimed 'gym rat'. He has all the physical tools to be a good player in this League--on both ends of the floor (that 6'11" wingspan on D will come in handy) now it's up to him to put that work ethic into overdrive and prove why just nine short months ago he was in the conversation for the #1 pick.
The Wolves nab Dieng. Sure, he's labeled as 'raw' and he is older than most of these rookies (at 23), however he gives the Wolves the shot blocker and rim protector they desperately need. He combines that with physicality (something Stiemsma lacks) and should be a good player to go 10-15 minutes off the bench. It also gives the Wolves the opportunity to drop Greg Stiemsma (can you hear the Hallelujah choir?) and his $2.5+ million salary for 2013-14 (that's non-guaranteed--meaning they can simply waive him/decline his option). Dieng was a coveted big man who would have gone somewhere in the 20's regardless. I guarantee that he would've been off the board by #26 as the Brooklyn Nets would've nabbed him at #22 (instead settling on Mason Plumlee).
The Wolves didn't want to go into 2013-14 with three guaranteed rookie contracts and so it made sense to deal the #26 pick and Flip was able to do so while also shedding Malcolm Lee's $900,000 guaranteed salary. Lee and the 26th were flipped to Golden State for a future second-round pick and cash. The Warriors then traded the #26 to the Thunder for the #29 and cash. Then the Warriors dealt the #29 and Malcolm Lee to Phoenix for the #30. Basically writing all that to let you know that yet another former Wolves player will head to Phoenix (joining Michael Beasley and Wes Johnson--if he's re-signed).
With the two picks in the second round the Wolves went with 6'5" point guard Lorenzo Brown (52nd) and forward Bojan Dubljevic (59th). Bojan is definitely a draft-and-stash player. Darren Wolfson (who talked with Bojan's agent) said Bojan will stay overseas for at least two more years and then they'll re-evaluate at that point. Lorenzo Brown is considered to be a first-round talent who had a down junior season at N.C. State after a breakout sophomore year. He's a point guard with two-guard size. He'll get a chance with the Wolves in the Summer League, but it remains to be seen where he'll play in 2013-14 (I HIGHLY doubt it's in Minnesota with the Timberwolves).
Overall if I had to give the Wolves a 'grade' for the 2013 NBA Draft. It'd be a B-. There's plenty to like about the first-round picks and there's plenty to be concerned about as well. My biggest fear is the C.J. McCollum becoming and instant star in Portland, Shabazz becoming Wes Johnson 2.0 and Dieng being more Hasheem Thabeet than Serge Ibaka.
With the NBA Draft come and gone the Wolves will now focus their attention on Free Agency (beginning Monday, July 1st) and with that, re-signing Nikola Peković and Chase Budinger. The Wolves also find out tomorrow (June 29) whether Andrei Kirilenko will opt-in or opt-out of his salary of $10+ million for 2013-14. Plenty more TWolves news to come, stay tuned!
As expected the Minnesota Timberwolves had a busy draft night. Unexpectedly, the Wolves didn't select at #9 and it wasn't because they moved up for Victor Oladipo or Ben McLemore.
The Wolves came into the 2013 NBA Draft with four picks (two in each round). They finished the night with four selections (two in each round).
Here's how the first eight picks played out
1.) Anthony Bennett to Cleveland
2.) Victor Oladipo to Orlando
3.) Otto Porter to Washington
4.) Cody Zeller to Charlotte
5.) Alex Len to Phoenix
6.) Nerlens Noel to New Orleans then traded to Philadelphia
7.) Ben McLemore to Sacramento
8.) Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to Detroit
Then came the Wolves pick at #9 and suddenly their top three prospects were off the board (Oladipo, McLemore & Caldwell-Pope), so it seemed as though it was down to Lehigh's C.J. McCollum. I knew if it was anyone but him the Wolves would be involved in some type of trade. That was the case as Minnesota selected Michigan's Trey Burke at #9 and a few minutes later traded him to the division rival Utah Jazz for the 14th & 21st picks.
So, now armed with 14, 21, 26, 52 & 59 the Wolves had Sergey Karasev & Shabazz Muhammad as their likely targets with #14. I was honestly hoping for Karasev, but the Wolves went with Muhammad at #14.
Honestly, I'm not mad, I think he's a bit misunderstood and I think the culture in Minnesota won't allow him to be a knucklehead. The Wolves will keep/get him in line with the help of vets like Rubio, Love, Ridnour/Barea (assuming they're not traded) and of couse future Hall-of-Fame coach Rick Adelman. The Wolves are in desperate need of scoring from their two-guard and that's certainly the strongest point of Shabazz's game. If he doesn't play like Adelman wants him to, he simply won't--there will be other options: Alexey Shved, Luke/J.J. and potentially some players the Wolves trade for/sign in free agency. Unlike a lot of Wolves fans, I'm not furious with Shabazz in a TWolves uni.
With the 21st pick the Wolves take Gorgui Dieng. I REALLY like this pick. The first reason being it's almost a certainty that Greg Stiemsma won't be back with the Wolves in 2013-14. In Dieng the Wolves have some a bit more physical--the same height, a good shot-blocker and a big man who will actually fight for rebounds. Gorgui's offensive game is limited, but it's already an improvement on Gregs (which doesn't say much). It's not a sure thing that the Wolves let Stiemer go, but I'd be very surprised if he's on the team in 2013-14.
With two first-round selections (and therefore guaranteed money) it seemed very evident that the Wolves would now trade their final first-round pick (#26) and they did just that. They sent the 26th pick along with guard Malcolm Lee to the Golden State Warriors and received a future second-round pick and cash. The Wolves dump some guaranteed money in Lee, get a bit of cash and a future pick in the second round at some point down the road (uncertain when exactly, as of now).
With the 52nd pick the Wolves nabbed 6'5" point guard Lorenzo Brown and with the 59th pick took power forward Bojan Dubljevic of Montenegro. Brown is considered a first-round talent that slipped, while Bojan is a player that they'll stash overseas for a year or longer (or forever) in hopes he'll continue to develop.
In summary, this is the final tally on the night for Minnesota...
#14 pick: Shabazz Muhammad, F-G
#21 pick: Gorgui Dieng, C
#52 pick: Lorenzo Brown, G
#59 pick: Bojan Dubljevic, F-C
and the Wolves traded guard Malcolm Lee to the Golden State Warriors.
That's all for now, we'll have more analysis and individual breakdowns of the above four players over the next few days so stay tuned for those! Until then, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
As expected, the Minnesota Timberwolves announced today that they've extended a qualifying offer to their starting center Nikola Peković. That makes him a restricted free agent which gives the Wolves the right to match any offer he receives in free agency (which begins on July 1st).
Nikola is an integral part of the Minnesota Timberwolves' future and assuming he's not given an absurd max contract offer, chances are good he'll be back in a TWolves uni in 2013-14.
In 174 NBA games (including 108 starts) Pek has averages of 11.6 points and 6.2 rebounds in 23.6 minutes per game.
And now our fifth and final installment of the 2013 NBA Mock Drafts 'Around the Net'. If you missed our prior posts here's PART I, PART II, PART III & PART IV.
Almost every mock draft listed below was updated between June 24th & June 26th and as I'm writing this, some have likely already been updated again!
Also, as a brief sidenote: the Minnesota Timberwolves hold the ninth, twenty-sixth, fifty-second and fifty-ninth picks in the 2013 NBA Draft. I had been saying our final pick was the fifty-eighth, but of course that was last season (we had the 58th pick) and we took Purdue's Robbie Hummel.
My final, personal predictions are as follows: the Timberwolves have a few different scenarios that could play out tonight. The first is MIN moving into the Top 4 to nab Victor Oladipo. A trade would likely include both the #9 pick & Derrick Williams (perhaps even the #26 pick). The second scenario is Kansas' Ben McLemore slipping to the 5th or 6th pick and the TWolves making a late trade to grab him. The last scenario has the Wolves staying at #9 and likely selecting Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Let's see what mocks are the internet are saying...
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is the likeliest target for the Timberwolves if they stay put at #9. At #9, it's almost a certainty that both Victor Oladipo & Ben McLemore will be off the 'board'. KCP is the next best two-guard. Flip has made it clear that he wants a two-guard with size who can knock down open shots. Last year he had a breakout season for Georgia. For the Timberwolves he would likely get a chance to start alongside Rubio in the backcourt, if not he could also be a valuable sixth man off the bench--someone who could provide the scoring in the second unit.
Shabazz Muhammad: Muhammad is a very skilled scorer and it's no secret that the Wolves are in dire need of big wings that can shoot the ball. Shabazz, if drafted by the Wolves would likely find his minutes at shooting guard. There are many questions surrounding Muhammad, including his effort on defense. He's been pegged as selfish and having a bad attitude. During his pre-draft workouts he has made it a point to try and squash those rumors. With a 6'11" wingspan, he has the ability to be a great perimeter defender. Scorers aren't always easy to come by. I'll hate if we draft Muhammad and he becomes Wes Johnson 2.0 AND I'll hate it if we don't draft him and he becomes another Paul George/Kawhi Leonard.
Alex Len is projected to go somewhere between 3-9, with most scouts believing he'll be gone by the time the Wolves pick. If he is available he'd be the perfect fit as a long-term prospect that will take a couple years to develop and provide valuable time behind Pekovic at center (allowing the Wolves to waive/trade Stiemsma). Len is the kind of shot-blocking rim protector the Wolves sorely need. An ankle injury has kept him out of working out for teams, but some scouts believe if he could workout for teams, he'd be in the conversation for the #1 pick.
Cody Zeller has his fans in the Timberwolves front office and there's a small chance the Wolves take him at #9. The Charlotte Bobcats are rumored to be interested with the #4 pick and he could slip down below the Top 10, too. Flip says he's more of a stretch-four in the NBA and if that's the case, I don't think the Wolves should go after him. Minnesota has Kevin Love, Derrick Williams & Dante Cunningham to play the four, so there's limited minutes to go around already. It's even more unlikely considering how desperate the Wolves are for a two-guard.
I really hope Gorgui Dieng falls to the Wolves at #26. He'd be a great fit for the Wolves in the backup center role. An athletic big body whose gained some muscle during his time in the States. Reports say that Dieng won't make it past the 22nd pick (by the Brooklyn Nets). Like Jeff Withey, Dieng is 23 years old--so they're a little older than most of the prospects, but I don't think that'll scare too many teams away in the late-first-round.
Lucas Noguiera is undoubtedly a long-term prospect for the team that drafts him. He possesses incredible athleticism, a penchant for crashing the offensive glass and finishing above the rim. A solid rebounder and a skilled shot-blocker, at 6'11" he'll almost certainly be a first-round selection. I'd love for the Wolves to take a shooting guard with their #9 pick and then take a center like Noguiera (or Gobert, Adams, Withey, Dieng, etc.). However in all honesty, any center that the Wolves draft that can take minutes from Greg Stiemsma is a HUGE positive in my books.
Mike Muscala became one of the best low-post scorers in College basketball last season. He's an excellent rebounder and has put on some weight these past couple seasons. The Bucknell big man is originally from Roseville Minnesota, I'm sure he'd love to play for his hometown TWolves. He's a very well-rounded big man that does a bit of everything. I'd be shocked if he slipped out of the first few picks of the second round and I wouldn't be upset at all if the Wolves select him 26th overall.
Jeff Withey: Another center prospect that will be 'in play' for the Wolves at #26. Unlike Gobert, Withey has a bit more muscle and strength. At 7'1" he's a definite lane clogger who is known primarily as a rim protector/shot blocker. At 23, he's a bit older than most prospects and that may instantly turn some teams off on him. If centers like Gobert, Dieng, Adams, Olynkyk & Nogueira are off the board (it's highly unlikely they all will be) Withey isn't a bad choice. I've got him as the 6th best center in the Draft: 1.) Nerlens Noel; 2.) Alex Len; 3.) Cody Zeller; 4.) Kelly Olynyk; 5.) Gorgui Dieng; with the 7th being Rudy Gobert. Those rankings are based on skill and not the order that I think they'll be drafted in. Withey is a talented shot-blocker and rebounder. If he was playing behind Nikola Pekovic, that could maybe help round out his offensive game.
Ricardo Ledo. Most believe Ledo will be a late first round pick or an early second round pick. Ricardo is a point guard so it's clear he's definitely not on the Minnesota Timberwolves' radar. Ricky hasn't been doing himself any favors with his workouts as he seems to be lacking confidence and not shooting or defending well. Some are believing he may be more of a project player.
Rudy Gobert: If Rudy is available at #26, I sincerely hope the Wolves take him. At 7'2" with a 7'8" wingspan and plenty of athleticism he already possesses the physical tools. After his workout in Minnesota last week, Flip said that Gobert is definitely a project player that's at least 2-3 years from being a contributor in this League. Waive Greg Stiemsma, resign Pekovic and work tirelessly with Gobert, who can begin his NBA career as a backup center (can't be any worse than Stiemer...right?). Here's hoping he's less Hasheem Thabeet and more Roy Hibbert in 2-3 years...
Sergey Karasev: A Russian swingman with a nice shooting stroke, Sergey is rumored to have a promise somewhere in the first round of the Draft. Chad Ford says he's in play for the Wolves at #9 (but don't worry he didn't get a promise from Minny). Earlier this offseason there were mock drafts that had the Wolves taking him at #26. His stock has certainly risen and he won't be on the board at that point.
Tony Snell: Good speed, quickness and leaping ability. Snell is still thin, but he has improved his body some this past season in New Mexico. Tony has reportedly put together some impressive workouts these past few weeks, which is why many mock drafts have him 'rising'. A lot of Snell's offense comes from his ability to move without the ball and knock down open shots. The Minnesota Timberwolves were dead-last in three-point percentage last season, so I think that automatically makes him a target for the Wolves.
That's all for now, the 2013 NBA Draft begins at 6:30pmCT and following the final pick I'll begin to work on our "Getting to Know..." posts for each prospect the Wolves select. Just like I did for Robbie Hummel a year ago. Look for those to be posted in the wee hours of Friday morning!
The Brooklyn Nets are shopping their backup shooting guard MarShon Brooks and apparently there is an offer on the table from Brooklyn to the TWolves. All Flip has to do is accept and it's a done deal.
The trade would send the #26 pick to the Nets and in return would receive Brooks. Brooks was the 25th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. The Wolves had a chance to draft him with the 20th overall pick, but this was during Kahn's trading spree in which he traded A LOT of assets for cash (to finance Kurt Rambis' firing).
Brooks shot just .273 from three last season. For a team desperate for three-point shooting--especially from their two-guard spot, I don't think MarShon would be the greatest fit.
I would much rather keep the 26th pick and draft a project big man such as Rudy Gobert, Gorgui Dieng or Jeff Withey.
Nothing is imminent and there's a good chance that this trade never comes to fruition. Stay tuned for more.
The Boston Celtics are slowly disassembling their roster. It began last season as they said goodbye to one of their "Big Three" players in Ray Allen as he joined the rival Miami Heat--something that obviously worked out very well for him as he is now an NBA champion and was an integral part of that thanks to an insanely clutch three-point make in the final seconds of Game 6 that would send the game to overtime where the Heat got the job done and forced a decisive Game 7.
Yesterday afternoon they continued the disassembly by allowing Doc Rivers to leave and become the new head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers--not before the Clippers send compensation in the form of a future first round selection.
Rumor has it the Celtics will likely decide to either trade or release forward Paul Pierce. Pierce is owed $15million in 2013-14, but if the Celtics release him by June 30th, they only have to pay one-third of that salary ($5million). They could also decide to trade him--they do have an offer from the Cleveland Cavaliers of two future second-round picks.
So, that leaves All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo how is rehabbing from a torn ACL and former Timberwolves superstar Kevin Garnett as their "Big 2". Garnett was originally rumored to also be heading to L.A. along with Doc in a separate deal that would've sent DeAndre Jordan to the Celts. The League reportedly won't allow that (for whatever reason, I don't know--especially if the two teams are in agreement...maybe it's "Basketball Reasons" again). That means KG will remain in Boston as he has two-years and roughly $24.4million remaining on his current contract.
Some rumors have Kevin Garnett (if not traded) playing one more season in Boston before deciding to retire. And the entire reason behind this post is about what KG will be doing after he retires. According to a report from Yahoo's Woj and even earlier a post on Twitter from 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson: Kevin Garnett may join the Minnesota Timberwolves organization in some type of front office role or potential ownership.
KG returning to Minnesota would mean rebuilding some bridges that owner Glen Taylor torched when Garnett was shipped to Boston, by saying that Kevin had given up the season before and blamed KG as an individual for a number of things that went wrong that season.
I can't help but touch on a scenario: Kevin Garnett traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves. A deal of Derrick Williams and J.J. Barea or Luke Ridnour for Garnett would work financially. They'd get a backup point guard and a young combo forward with a lot of potential to be an integral part of their rebuilding process. The Wolves would be getting their franchise player back. Would re-obtaining him mean Nikola Pekovic's days in Minnesota are over or would the Wolves still bring back Pek and have Kevin Garnett as a sixth man that plays 25-30 minutes a night and offers an unparalleled presence on both ends of the court--while also providing insurance for Kevin Love who suffered through an injury-filled 2012-13 in which he played just 18 games.
It's an unlikely scenario, but it's these times during the offseason when you can throw out about any type of "What If" to spark thought, conversation or even controversy among the fans.
The Brandon Roy Experiment was an absolutely horrible decision, in a long line of horrible decisions by former boss David Kahn. After playing in the preseason, Roy played in the first five regular season games before suffering a setback.
That setback was followed by another and another and another until it became clear to all of us that he wouldn't be back on the floor for the Minnesota Timberwolves, ever again.
He didn't return in 2012-13 and shortly after Flip Saunders took over for David Kahn, Roy was released.
Roy said in an interview just last night, that his basketball days are 'numbered'. My guess is that his NBA days are over and he may play a pickup game or two with some of his buddies over the summers (ie: Jamal Crawford).
Roy could also stay around basketball as a college head coach, an NBA assistant coach or take up a position in a front office somewhere in the League. Needless to say, I don't think we'll see him suit up for an NBA squad ever again.
A season ago, Glen Taylor was hard at work exploring different groups in hopes of finding the right person/people--those right people being someone who would keep the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minnesota! Ultimately Taylor didn't find the right group and he even admitted that he had a little bit of seller's remorse as he realized that he really didn't want to sell the Wolves.
Now, he's decided to buy out some of the minority partners. There were a number of partners that have been with Taylor for the past 18 years and about half (six) of those owners decided to sell their shares to Taylor.
Over the past year, Glen has become much more involved with the franchise and expects to be with the team for years to come.
A TWolves fan, bringing you the daily updates.