Category: News/Rumors

Everything You Need to Know Before the Signing Period Begins

From L to R: Brandon Roy, Brandon Roy Jr., and Nic Batum in a scene that could possibly be re-lived this winter at Target Center.
From L to R: Brandon Roy, Brandon Roy Jr., and Nic Batum in a scene that could possibly be re-lived this winter at Target Center.

Well, since it’s Tuesday and I’m on vacation, I have the luxury of being able to post on back-to-back days. It helps that my vacation takes place now when there isn’t any big news, but a bunch of little stories that make it just worth sharing. After all, if only one of us has to spend a gorgeous summer day at their computer, why not be the one with almost 37,000 tweets? Alright, let’s get to the updates.

- The Timberwolves sign Russian star Alexey Shved. Shved is a combo guard that could potentially make Luke Ridnour and JJ Barea expendable. If the rumored terms of his deal are correct, his 3 year/$9 million dollar deal makes him not only cheaper than Barea or Ridnour, but a good overall value.

With the Olympics around the corner and Shved playing for team Russia, expect his press conference to happen with in the next couple of days. Nice pick up for the Timberwolves, and if you don’t know about Shved look into him.

- An update on the Nic Batum situation…kinda…sorta…I think. Apparently there is a chance that the Pacers matching the Blazers’ offer on Roy Hibbert makes it less likely for them to match the Wolves’ offer on Batum if they stick to their 4 year/$50 million dollar offer because they may feel their team isn’t good enough to justify having that contract without Hibbert. But we don’t know that for sure, and last we heard from the Blazers (last week) they were still gonna match.

We do know that Batum wants to play for the Timberwolves first…but would be OK if he had to return to Portland.

Then there’s the issue of the sign and trade, a move the Blazers GM Neil Olshey said that he wasn’t interested in, but apparently they have the framework of a deal done that’s being held up by Blazers owner Paul Allen. To make an even more complicated situation even more complicated, Derrick Williams may be suddenly untouchable despite the Wolves shopping him feverishly since last trade deadline.

Blazers people expect him to stay, Timberwolves people expect him to go. I’d personally suggest coming to your own conclusion.

In short: I know nothing!

- Brandon Roy wants to start. God bless this man’s competitive spirit, but I really get the feeling this is a bad idea. I’m happy he cares, I really am, and I do think he can play around 15-20 mpg and probably be OK. However, 30 minutes per game is probably out of the question. Whatever, if he pushes Shved, increases his own production, and saves us from watching Wes Johnson’s disintegration, it may not be so bad. Hey, he even said that he’s never felt better, and working out two times a day, so that’s good.

- Miscellaneous: If the Wolves do add Batum, they would have to buyout Brad Miller (retiring), Martell Webster (annual injury liability), renounce Anthony Tolliver’s rights and amnesty Darko! Milicic (bad at basketball) in order to make room…Last we heard to the Wolves were still in play for big men Greg Stiemsma and Jordan Hill, which is good because they are currently in need of frontcourt help.

Anyway, so that’s what’s going on right now. Everything is very fluid right now, so a lot or nothing could happen around 11pm when the signing period begins. No matter what, the Wolves’ offseason is looking to be a vast improvement over last season’s that barely got to 26 wins.

Kevin Love to Yahoo!: "I want to win." We know, Kevin.

Ever since he started hanging out with that Team USA Kevin Love has become a lot more outspoken.
Ever since he started hanging out with that Team USA Kevin Love has become a lot more outspoken.

Admittedly, when I read the headline of the article from Marc Spears of Yahoo!, I thought that Kevin Love’s comments would be a little more incendiary or scathing. But they really weren’t. In fact, they were right in line with what Timberwolves fans have been saying for years: WE’RE SICK OF LOSING. And notice that Love essentially putting the front office on the spot isn’t exactly causing uproar is pretty telling of the views of outsiders, and no one seems to mind him voicing these opinions in a public forum.

Love’s frustrations are pretty understandable when he talks about not being able to talk playoff war stories with other members of Team USA even though he is a Top-10 player (at least) in the game. He wants to be successful, and from the sounds of it he would be OK with doing that in Minnesota. Take note of his word choice in the piece, particularly his use of “we”, he still wants to be here.

When Kevin was talking about improving the roster, commending the additions that have been made thus far, and mentioned that “We just can’t stand still”, I felt like my 3 Year Window post from last week was validated. In that piece, in case you missed it, I said that it may be more detrimental to the Wolves’ chances of keeping Love to be too afraid to trade a young player for a more expensive and talented veteran than attempting to make a big move to improve the team.

Even with all of that being said, it doesn’t feel like he’s trying to hold the Timberwolves hostage. The message appears to be simple: “Start winning or I’m out in 3 years.” Which is fine, because if you can’t win in 3 years you should probably start over anyway.

I like Kevin Love. I like that he cares. I like that he tries to get better every offseason. I like his 25-15 games. However, Love needs to make sure that he’s doing his part every night to make sure the Wolves are in the best position to win. By that I mean, quit whining to the officials about every missed call and get back on defense! Likewise, instead of leaving your man to take an open shot while you get in rebounding position, contest the shot and get a hand in his face.

Finally, if you’re the leader of the team by virtue of being its best player, they probably shouldn’t quit on the final month of the season. If guys aren’t in the huddle when coach is speaking or paying attention, which happened last season, get them in it. If this is Kevin Love’s team, he needs to be a complete leader, and not just by example, but also as an extension of the coaching staff, if you will. Coaches can bark at guys all day long, but when the players hold each other accountable, it creates a much better environment to operate in.

Anyway, this is really much about nothing. We’ve known for a while that Love wants to win, likes Minnesota, and wants to improve. It also seems apparent that the front office understands this judging by the Pau Gasol, Nic Batum, and the countless other players they’re tied to this offseason. At this point it’s really hard to disagree with anything that was said here.

Roy un-retires with T-Wolves; Batum still on wish list

Roy is signed, and Batum remains Wolves' coveted free agency prize

On what seemed to be a dull, bare night on the Timberwolves’ front regarding free agency, took a full 180 and united a boisterous fan base with two awfully big moves.

It started off with the big news that Brandon Roy will be officially coming out of retirement to join the Wolves on a two year, $10 mil deal. It sounds like Kahn’s pitch worked out but it’s Roy and his agent’s pitch that leave me curious. Roy was forced into early retirement because his knees literally ground into dust. No one wants to play the game in pain, which left Roy with no choice. But just one year away from the game and an illegal medical procedure made famous by Kobe Bryant and Roy states he’s healthy enough to play in the NBA yet again.

Is it possible for a man with no cartilage in his knees to withstand the physicality and speed of the NBA? Even for someone with All-Star credentials such as Roy, I certainly have my doubts. Whatever he and his agent had to say in that meeting with Kahn, Taylor and other T-Wolves’ contingent, must’ve struck a nerve so deep to give assurance that he is fully capable of making this comeback worth his while, as well as the Wolves’.

For fans, this is a huge addition. Roy’s reputation alone brings great joy and hope for Wolves fans everywhere. The fact that they’re bringing in a former All-Star in through free agency gives the fan base subtle reassurance that David Kahn and the front office are doing everything they can to make winning now a plausible — if not guaranteed — situation in Minnesota. There are still other moves to make but the fact that they’re creating a solid base with players that seem to want to come here and play in Adelman’s system is certainly a positive.

Speaking of those other moves, the next big move tonight was the word of Nic Batum officially agreeing to sign an offer sheet from the Timberwolves. The details: a four-year deal worth $45 mil including bonuses that could amount to $50 mil. Woah. Batum is a simpleton but a great example of the Wolves’ determined efforts to find pieces that are going to fit on this team now and still have room to grow. He’s a lanky swingman with the ability to play the 2 or the 3. But more importantly is how he plays either position; he is a perimeter hawk with a smooth stroke and the ability to make plays for himself. Really, he’s the perfect kind of player to plop into Adelman’s corner-based offense and let run the sidelines in the open court alongside Rubio.

But it’s never gonna happen.

Earlier today, the Trail Blazers told the Oregonian that it’s within Batum’s “best interest” to stay in Portland, and that they’d match any offer that Batum decided to agree to. It didn’t take long for Batum to call up Minnesota and agree to their offer. But even with a wholehearted desire to play for the Timberwolves — How refreshing is it to hear someone say they want to play here? — it looks as if Batum won’t get his chance to play here. At least for four years.

Just because Batum has the desire to play in the Twin Cities, doesn’t mean that Portland is simply going to let him walk. Just like Eric Gordon and his passion to play for the Suns, there’s no way in hell the New Orleans Hornets are just going to let him go.

Because of Batum’s RFA — restricted free agent — status, Portland has the right to match any offer within three days of July 11th, the official “signing day” of NBA free agency. And because Batum is a very good and underrated 23-year old, Portland isn’t going to not match the Wolves’ offer.

It would be suicide.

The best chance the Wolves have at landing Batum now is via sign and trade. They would need to build some sort of package around D-Will and other pieces — Martell Webster/Brad Miller deals, draft picks, etc. — to have any hope of acquiring him. Again, reports say that Portland has already denied any such D-Will package. Williams plays the same position their star does — just like the Wolves — and so his value isn’t nearly as high on their list.

It’s going to take a little work and a whole lot of luck to bring Batum here to pair him with his former Blazer teammate, Roy. But the fact that the Wolves are attempting the impossible, and stirring up some bad blood with a fellow division rival, makes this entire situation awfully fun to cover. Even if it’s likely to end for worse, it’s still worth the debate.

With Nicolas Batum Unlikely, Is Andre Iguodala Next?

Will the Sixers finally be able to move Andre Iguodala, whos been on the trade block for what feels like forever?
Will the Sixers finally be able to move Andre Iguodala, who's been on the trade block for what feels like forever?

With Jason Quick of the Oregonian reporting that the Blazers met with Nicolas Batum and stated the team would match any offer in addition to being unwilling to negotiate a sign and trade, the Timberwolves were effectively eliminated from the possibility of Batum calling Target Center home next season. Well, what now? Per KSTP’s Darren Wolfson, Philadelphia 76ers have reached out to the Wolves to gauge their interest in Andre Iguodala.

Now, the Sixers are coming off of a playoff year and Iggy is coming off of an All-Star season, but he’s been on the block for what seems like forever and the Sixers reportedly are looking to unload his contract. Coincidentally, Iggy would fill the need of small forward for the Timberwolves. Naturally, the stars must be aligning, right? Well, it’s not that easy.

First off, you’d think a team with as much cap space as the Wolves have (or don’t have) that matching Iggy’s $13 million dollar salary would be a cinch, but it’s not. Seriously, it’s a glut of $4-$5 million dollar deals, and Kevin Love’s exetension.

Secondly, if the Sixers really want to do a deal with Minnesota, they may have to sell low on Iggy. But hey, they made the first call, so beggars can’t be choosers, right? I think the other saying is that beggars may have to deal their best player in a salary dump, but I could be wrong.

With all of that being said, I take to ESPN’s Trade Machine, and there are really three realistic offers for the Sixers to consider if they would just be shipping out Iggy.

Trade #1: Derrick Williams, Brad Miller (Buyout), Martell Webster (Buyout), and the Grizzlies pick.

Trade #2: Wes Johnson, Brad Miller (Buyout), Martell Webster (Buyout), and the Grizzlies pick.

Trade #3: Nikola Pekovic, Brad Miller (Buyout), Martell Webster (Buyout), and the Grizzlies pick.

Obviously the best return for the Sixers right now is Pekovic, but that would leave the Wolves with Darko Milicic as the only other center on the roster, and Philly could only offer Spencer Hawes in return; no thanks.

Trade number two would make sense from a roster standpoint, but not from a talent standpoint, since the Sixers would have a sudden need for a small forward.

Should they take Trade #1 they would be adding Williams to the power forward platoon of Elton Brand, Arnette Moultrie, and Thaddeus Young, who is also power forward capable. At first I thought that if the Sixers were absolutely set on shedding salary they amnesty Brand in addition to buying out Miller and Webster, but Brand is an $18 million dollar expiring contract, so that’s not happening.

See what I mean about the Sixers likely having to sell low on Iguodala to make a Wolves deal? Yet, I think the Wolves probably agree to the first two without blinking. It’s certainly a tough spot, but it’ll be an even tougher season if they don’t add something to small forward position.

What can Iguodala offer, besides being better than the in-house options?

-          He’s just 28, has two years and $27 milllion left on his deal, and therefore wouldn’t interfere with extending Kevin Love or Ricky Rubio in 3 years.

-          His 39.4% 3 point percentage likely won’t hold, but he’s average at worst from that range, and the Wolves were average from that range on a good night last season.

-          His defensive metrics were great last season posting 4.2 (1.0 being average) Defensive Win Shares and a 98 Defensive Rating (100 being average) last season.  He’s even a good defensive playmaker, averaging 1.7 steals per game for his career.

-          Additionally he can rebound and set up teammates.

Compared to what we saw last season from the Timberwolves’ small forwards, Iggy’s 7.3 Win Shares are greater than Webster’s (1.8), Wes Johnson’s (0.6) and Mike Beasley’s (0.5). He may not blow you away, but he’s the type of player who could improve the Timberwolves and he’s available, for the right price.

As far as the price, no one knows right now what Philadelphia wants right now; could be cap relief, picks, or some combo of the two. Maybe the Sixers are cool with not getting a player of equal caliber in exchange for their All-star, I know I am. All that I really know is that, while I like Chase Budinger, I’m not sure it’s a great thing for him to be a team’s biggest offseason addition.

(Final note: I know that they could still make a run for OJ Mayo, Courtney Lee, and/or Alexy Shved, but those guys are all shooting guards.)

Wolves don't offer qualifiers to Randolph or Beasley

A little late, but in case you missed it, the Timberwolves made a move that shouldn’t come as a relief, but totally does. From ESPN:

The Minnesota Timberwolves declined to make qualifying offers to Beasley and Anthony Randolphon Saturday, making them both unrestricted free agents.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but a lot of (fatalist) Timberwolves fans expected the Wolves to extend offers to both Randolph and Beasley despite two years’ evidence that we weren’t going to see much production from either player. Both are tantalizing talents, but neither are productive players.

One thing to keep in mind: the Wolves still own Bird rights, so sign and trades are still an option. We will have much more on this topic coming up, both on the cap space this creates and the future destinations for Beasley and Randolph.

Rumor: Wolves interested in Alexey Shved?

Here’s the tough part about this story: Alexey Shved is a prospect from Russia, and as such, reports regarding any future NBA destinations come with questions of legitimacy. However, according to several reports, David Kahn has serious interest in Shved.

For those of you who haven’t heard of Shved, you are pardoned. Allow me to introduce him, beginning with the negatives. Shved is listed at 6’5 (although I’ve seen reports that he is as tall as 6’7), but just 161 lbs. At that height, he could play shooting guard in the NBA. But he will need to put on muscle, or he will get abused on defense. Because he isn’t incredibly strong, Shved has a tendency to avoid contact, which means he occasionally relies on his jump shot excessively.

But that jump shot is niiiice. Watch the video above. Shved has a smooth stroke, and he can shoot both off a pass and off the dribble. Scouts love his handle as well as his ability to see the floor and his basketball IQ. His crossover looks a lot like Rubio’s, deceptively deceptive and effective. Most notably, Shved is confident, and he can create shots for himself. If the Wolves did sign him, he wouldn’t need Rubio to create every shot for him. He would, however, offer another alley-oop target for Ricky. Though Shved isn’t strong, he is very quick and very bouncy.

Does all of this sound a little too good to be true? The only real knock against Shved is his strength, and he would be coming into a league that offers some of the best strength conditioning in the world. Whether or not he would ever fill out, his skillset certainly indicates that he could contribute well to an NBA team.

The main question, of course, is whether or not Shved could be bought out. He is under contract with CSKA Moscow for another year, so if the Wolves want to get him, they will probably have to pay money for him initially as well.

Personally, I’m excited. In Shved, the Wolves would gain the shooter they desperately crave as well as a shot creator who, unlike Brandon Roy, actually has a working set of knees. Shved might be just as much of a gamble as Roy, but personally, I’d rather bet on the guy who hasn’t been forced to retire from basketball due to career-ending knee injuries. Just my two cents, though.

Draft Night Recap: The Budinger Trade

Was Budinger worth the 18th pick in the draft?

Jonah will be along later to talk about the Robbie Hummel pick. For the sake of posterity, here’s a list of all the players the Timberwolves could have drafted with the 18th pick that they traded for Chase Budinger. Let’s assume that Minnesota would have been looking for a wing shooter or a shot blocker if they had kept the pick. We are also assuming that they didn’t trade their pick up.

18. Terrence Jones- I like Jones, but Minnesota doesn’t need another 3-4 tweener.

19. Andrew Nicholson-Again, Nicholson played power forward in college. I think we are good.

20. Evan Fournier- Fournier is a wing, but he was a bit of a stretch at 20, and one of the knocks on him was his outside shooting ability. Pass.

21. Jared Sullinger- Boston got a huge steal by drafting lottery talent at 21, but the Wolves, again, don’t need a power forward.

22. Fab Melo- Thanks to a merciful God (and Danny Ainge), David Kahn didn’t trade up for him, as was rumored.

23. John Jenkins- Jenkins is an excellent shooter and as such, he’s the first real challenge to the Budinger trade. But would you rather draft someone who was a good shooter in college or trade for someone who has proven to be a good shooter in the NBA? I’m good with Budinger.

24. Jared Cunningham- He can’t really shoot, but of note (kind of), I once had a top comment on one of his YouTube videos. Wait, is that the sort of thing I should keep to myself?

25. Tony Wroten Jr.- A point guard who can’t shoot. The irony of this pick would have been rich. Let’s just move on.

26. Miles Plumlee- Lololol.

27. Arnett Moultrie- Moultrie slid, but he’s a good value at 27. Still, he’s yet another 3-4 tweener.

28. Perry Jones III- This one stings a little. Jones has superstar potential and he STILL slid to the 28th pick because of concerns regarding his knee. He could be a taller Tracy McGrady, he could be another Anthony Randolph. We don’t know. But it would have been fun to find out on the Wolves.

29. Marquis Teague- Teague is a point guard. We are set, thanks. Save your lame David Kahn/PG jokes.

30. Festus Ezeli- Derek was a fan. Ezeli is tall, strong, and athletic, and apparently a decent shot blocker. He also would have been a wild stretch at the 18th pick.

All in all, a good trade by David Kahn. There’s an excellent chance Budinger will start for the Wolves next season (barring any unforeseen free agent deals that make all of our jaws drop). At 18, the Wolves weren’t going to find that kind of talent at the positions they needed.

Well done, Mr. Kahn.

Rumor: Brandon Roy to the Timberwolves?

From ESPN 1500:

According to two league sources, the Wolves plan on making [Brandon Roy] a three-time All-Star a two-year contract offer. The money is unknown.

Like everyone else, I’m a little bit taken aback by this bit of news, but I’m not entirely displeased by it. Breaking this down by arguments:

  1. A multi-year contract? What are the Wolves thinking? Oddly enough, I think it makes a lot of sense to give Roy two years. For one thing, plenty of teams are going to be willing to offer Roy a one year deal. He has no emotional attachment to Minnesota (“Aww, the team that drafted me, then decided that Randy Foye and cash were a fair trade?”). Offering another year would give the Wolves a leg up on Miami or other bigger name suitors. Moreover, signing Roy for two years will not only guarantee him paychecks for two years, but it also might allow the Wolves to spend less per year on him. Also worth considering: Roy sat out last year, and will doubtless be a little bit rusty. Giving him some time to work into the system, without worrying about next year’s contract, might be worthwhile for the Wolves.
  2. Do we want a driving guard whose knees got so bad he had to retire? This is the most pressing concern. We have no idea what Roy still has left in the tank. Modern medicine has worked wonders on athletes before (we are looking at you, Kobe Bryant). The question is whether Roy is worth the gamble.
  3. How big of a gamble is he? Enormous. Either Roy will work very well for the Wolves, or he won’t work at all, and his knees are the thin line that separates both possibilites. Roy was never an elite three point shooter (38% from behind the arc in the season with his highest eFG%), so if he can’t get to the hoop (where he was over 60% for most of his career), he won’t be able to stand in the corner and jack up threes any better than Wayne Ellington or Martell Webster. On the other hand, if he can even come close to approaching the productivity he displayed in Portland, Minnesota will have added an extremely dangerous weapon. One of the areas in which the Wolves struggled badly last year was in shot creation. When a play broke down, the most reliable option Minnesota had was an isolation play for Michael Beasley. This, unsurprisingly, rarely ended well. 70% of Brandon Roy from 2008-09 would be a massive improvement.
  4. Speaking of Beasley, what does this mean for him? Signing Roy would probably spell the end of Beasley/Randolph in Minnesota. If both players re-signed, the Wolves would only be able to offer Roy a mid-level exception, hardly enough to sway Roy away from contenders rumored to be chasing him, like Indiana and Chicago.

This would be an experiment, to be sure, but not a bad one. A healthy Roy would be an enormous boost for a playoff push next year. An unhealthy Roy ties up some cap space, but Minnesota has other options to free up room in this scenario.

One more rumor worth mentioning: David Aldridge from says that Houston has been discussing dealing Kevin Martin to Minnesota for the 18th pick. Martin would add a three point shooter that the Wolves desperately needed last season. He would not, however, add a lick of defense, and his contract is burdensome ($13 million next year). We will keep you updated on both possibilities.

White's promise

Royce White came to workout for the Timberwolves just last week. The workout went well — not spectacular — but maybe just good enough to tip Kahn’s hand at taking him with the 18th pick of this year’s draft.

Word from ESPN’s Chad Ford is that White, as of yesterday, has cancelled the rest of his workouts with other teams. Ford tweeted yesterday,”He’s pulled out of all remaining workouts and gone silent. Not injured.”

The only explanation for White’s sudden hiatus means that he must’ve gotten a promise from a team he’s pretty happy with in the first round. Draft promises are sticky situations. Who’s to say what opportunities present themselves on draft night in terms of players falling or even trades? Things can change very quickly and that promise your team just made may end up wrecking everything up.

So who’s stupid enough to promise White a selection?

Perhaps it was David Kahn and the Timberwolves.

Since working out here last week, White has been enamored with the idea of playing for the Wolves. Minneapolis is White’s homecity, and there’s almost no better feeling than coming home to play for the team that you idolized and rooted for growing up. White’s workout here was good but his interview was better. Since the workout process started, White has been very open and honest about his anxiety disorder since revealing the truth mid-way through the college season.

Head coach at Iowa State, Fred Hoiberg, has also been outright and truthful about his former player. Hoiberg believes that White’s game is best-suited for the NBA, as long as any coach is willing to buy in to White’s unorthodox style of playing the point as a power forward. And because Hoiberg, a former player and exec for the Timberwolves, has such close ties to Minnesota, there may be some hidden information that he’s given Kahn that no other team has received.

That’s all speculation at this point, even the promise, but there is something fishy going on, even if it’s not with Minnesota. According to Ford, both the Celtics and Hawks have come to like White’s talents, as well as the Warriors. But none of them are in the right position to actually take him, except the Warriors at 7, which may be a little high. Instead, the Wolves, sitting at pick 18, are in prime real estate to take White. So even if that promise came from a team below the Wolves’ pick, there may be a wrinkle in their plans already, unless they plan on trading up for him.

The Wolves really do have a great pick with 18. There are many options available. Trades will be flying and it could surely get moved as a casualty. Or they could stay-put and take a flier on someone with great talent like White and see what he can do; he’s certainly the type of player that, if his head is on right, can replace Michael Beasley’s output plus more. It’s a good time to be a Wolves fan.

Wolf Tracks: Timberwolves trade idea

Bradford Doolittle of Basketball Prospectus wrote an article for ESPN Insider that highlighted three solid trade ideas that have some ties to the upcoming draft. And while I still believe the Wolves will likely back out of the draft in hopes of finding veteran help via trade, Doolittle has other plans, completely contrary to my theory.

Doolittle offers the idea of trading Derrick Williams and the #18 pick to the Charlotte Bobcats for the #2 pick. What the ?!? Now it’s an exciting idea to many, including myself. Although I still think that a veteran is of more use to Adelman and next year’s roster, a skilled player from the top of a draft much better than last year’s would be nice. There are multiple options the Wolves could go for at #2 including Andre Drummond, the much-needed shot-blocking presence the Wolves need, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, a pure gymrat with strong skills from the small forward position, or even Bradley Beal, a go-to scorer at the 2-guard.

Doolittle says that Beal would likely be the pick, and I can’t disagree with him. He’s likely the most NBA-ready guard in the entire draft and fills a huge need for the Wolves. After all, they’ve never had a serious starting shooting guard since Latrell Sprewell, and that was short-lived.