Free agency in the NBA starts July 1, and it will be a crazy time with a lot of moving and shaking.
A quick look at the Timberwolves roster shows just as much uncertainty as it does potential and excitement. The roster when the team opens training camp could look a lot different than it does right now.
There are still plenty of questions as Tom Thibodeau and Scott Layden embark on their first years in leadership roles in Minnesota. Will Ricky Rubio be traded? Is there still a chance to trade for Jimmy Butler? Where can the Timberwolves find depth on the bench? We don’t know the answers to a lot of those yet, but here are four needs for the Timberwolves as free agency heats up this week.
One thing to keep in mind: The Timberwolves have rarely been big players in free agency. Their big acquisitions have largely come through high draft picks or trades.
Another Legitimate Perimeter Scorer
If the Timberwolves are going to add any players in free agency or otherwise, their top priority must be perimeter shooting. The Timberwolves haven’t had a pure, consistent three-point shooter in ages. Sure, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine are getting better from the perimeter and Nemanja Bzelica can shoot when he’s open, but a pure shooter would add another dimension to Minnesota’s offense.
Players that come to mind include Dwyane Wade and DeMar DeRozan or even someone like Nicolas Batum, who the Timberwolves reportedly have pursued in previous years. Of course, any and all conversations about a shooter hinge on if the Timberwolves do anything with Ricky Rubio.
A Healthy Defender, Rim Protector
Karl-Anthony Towns will need some help defending the rim. After all, he can’t and shouldn’t play 48 minutes per night. Gorgui Dieng can help, but it would be of great interest to the Timberwolves to bring in another rim protector or any type of big forward who wants to play defense. That’s hard to find in the NBA.
The four big names that come to mind are Andre Drummond, Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Dwight Howard. There have been plenty of rumors that Noah might attempt to reunite with now Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau, but he’ll come at a price.
Scoring Guard Off The Bench
One of the Timberwolves’ biggest issues last season was the drop-off on the court when the reserves came in. They just didn’t have enough scoring, depth, especially among guards, to hang with a lot of teams when the starters needed a rest. There are two options to fill that hole: Either make a trade for a guard willing to come off the bench, or sign a free agent who would start and have one of the current starters lead the second unit.
It’s a difficult spot with Rubio’s Minnesota future cloudy at this point. But bring in a guy like Bradley Beal or Eric Gordon or even Jeremy Lin, and you can put LaVine at his natural shooting guard position. You can never have enough shooting in the NBA.
Veteran Leader Who Is Healthy
With all due respect to Nikola Pekovic, it’s no secret that he’s become one of the worst contracts in Minnesota sports history. Again last year, his season was decimated by injuries as he played just 12 games. That was after 31 games two years ago, and he’s only played more than 60 games twice in six seasons. The Timberwolves probably can’t get out from under his contract this year, but it might be time to move on. They also need to figure out if Kevin Garnett can still play, or if they need to buy out his remaining contract.
Getting a guy like Hassan Whiteside, Jared Dudley, Jared Sullinger or even Luol Deng could help. But it also may not be the team’s highest priority this year. It’s definitely something to keep in mind.
One thing is for sure when NBA free agency starts at 11 p.m. local time Thursday: The phones will be ringing and the money going to players will be ridiculous.