Minnesota Timberwolves 2014 NBA Free-Agency Big Board: Top Targets Post-Draft
With no cap space and a relatively full roster already, the Minnesota Timberwolves are going to have a tough time recruiting substantial talent in free agency.
What might make this offseason period even more difficult for the Timberwolves is the uncertain fate of Kevin Love. Free agents generally like to have an idea of who they'll be playing with and whether the team will have a shot at contending, and with a Love trade potentially looming, it's hard for everyone to get a real solid feel for where Minnesota is going.
That holds true for Minnesota head coach and executive Flip Saunders, as well. It's hard to invest in a free agent when you don't know what a trade package for Love will return. You also don't want to add a lengthy contract to the books if clearing cap space and rebuilding turns out to be the smartest path to take.
With that in mind, Minnesota's free-agency big board should be full of players willing to sign smaller deals for fewer years. Since Minnesota doesn't have cap room to play with and isn't a contender, the quality of talent will likely take a dip as a result.
Let's take a look at five realistic targets for the Timberwolves to pursue as they get their situation with Love squared away.
Instead of collecting the minimum for another year, Nick Young decided to opt out of his contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. Here's what Young told Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com about the situation in Los Angeles:
"I always wanted to be a Laker and it will be a dream come true to still be here, but it's crazy," the seven-year veteran said in April. "You never know what happens. Last year they had a whole different team. It's obvious they're going to make some changes."
With the Lakers likely hunting for bigger game in free agency first, Young might find a better deal elsewhere. Although his reputation proceeds him as being a chucker who only brings scoring to the table, Young was pretty efficient last season, scoring 22.8 points per 36 minutes with a 56.4 true shooting percentage, according to Basketball-Reference.com.
Those are great numbers from a sixth man, and that's exactly what Minnesota would need Young to be. With J.J. Barea often struggling to score and carry the second unit, the Timberwolves lost a ton of leads thanks to shabby bench offense. Young would help solve some of that, and his reputation could keep his price cheap.
The Wolves will need floor spacing and scoring desperately if Kevin Love is traded, and Young can provide that. So long as it's not a long-term contract that would tie up significant cap space, this would be addressing a need whether Love stays or not.
After jumping around the league a bit and earning contracts well beyond his worth, Kris Humphries may be ready to take a little less cash and return to his home state of Minnesota.
It's unfortunate that Humphries has dealt with off-the-court drama, because he's been very solid lately and could potentially bring a lot to the table as a rotation big man. Playing for the losing Boston Celtics might not have helped his stock much, so there's some potential value to be had here.
Humphries could help the Timberwolves quite a bit, as he'd be an upgrade over free-agent forward Dante Cunningham and a decent starter if it ever came to that. Humphries can defend the post well, and his athleticism and size allows him to be a real glass-eater. With a nice touch from mid-range, Humphries is a solid two-way player who doesn't take a lot off the table.
Furthermore, Humphries might not have high standards for the team he chooses. He's been with losing teams before and still played hard, so there would be little fear of a letdown. For the mid-level exception, this would be some nice frontcourt insurance for a team that needs it badly.
The Timberwolves should have been a far better team than their record indicated, and the main reason for that was the complete failure to win close games. Part of the reason those games were even close in the first place, however, was because the second unit would let teams back into it far too easily.
Since Barea isn't really a point guard or a distributor, Minnesota may want to look for someone who can set his teammates up. Free-agent point guard Devin Harris is one of the best players on the market in that regard, although it may be tough to convince him to sign.
Here's Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News with what Harris might be looking for:
On Friday at the Heroes Baseball Game practice session, Harris was asked if that original three-year, $9-million deal would be enough to keep him in Dallas as he prepares for free agency.
"Three years, yes," Harris said. "Somewhere in that area. The years sound good. It would be a good starting point."
Obviously, Harris is hoping for at least the same amount of money that was offered originally last year. It will be interesting to see what the marketplace is like for Harris, who missed the first half of the season, but played well in the second half and in the playoff series against San Antonio.
Harris would be an interesting fit with his passing ability and strong pick-and-roll play, but three years for a 31-year-old point guard might not be smart from Minnesota's side.
If the Timberwolves can convince Harris to take fewer years, however, he'd be a nice addition behind Ricky Rubio.
Marvin Williams has lurked in the shadows over the last few years, but he'll likely kick up some interest in free agency from teams looking to add mobile defenders who can rebound at the forward position.
Although Minnesota has Luc Richard Mbah a Moute in that role currently, Williams is a far superior shooter who can play either the 3 or 4 and provide dependable production.
While he certainly isn't spectacular, Williams shouldn't demand very much money or a long-term deal in free agency. He's a solid role player but nothing more, so it's not unreasonable to assume that he could take a deal for half of the mid-level exception and allow Minnesota to split up the asset.
That might not be a bad idea, even if Minnesota is fairly deep already. The more trade pieces that can be turned into something the better, and if Williams doesn't drum up enough interest from contenders, he'll likely be happy to have a decent contract and a role somewhere.
Overpaying here would be a bad idea, but cheap asset acquisition and a steady presence off the bench could help Minnesota in a number of ways.
Here's another former Utah Jazz player who might be satisfied with a short-term deal and steady minutes.
So long as Richard Jefferson isn't chasing a ring, Minnesota might be a decent landing spot for his skills. The Wolves need more efficient three-point shooting on the roster, and Jefferson is a proven stand-still shooter who can still surprise you with his athleticism every now and then.
While he may have been a better fit in Rick Adelman's corner offense, Saunders will likely covet a few veterans who can keep the locker room intact even with trade speculation floating around. Jefferson is a journeyman who can do that and provide solid production on the wing.
Again, the important thing to remember about Minnesota's free-agency targets is that taking on long-term salaries beyond next season could potentially be harmful if the plan changes.
Saunders will likely want to win now as well, so veterans on shorter deals probably make sense, especially when you consider he's the one doing the grocery shopping and the cooking.