We are just a few weeks removed from the NBA Finals and Minnesota Timberwolves fans are visibly shocked; the Wolves have used trades and free-agency to make their team…better?? Minnesota started off by sending the 18th overall pick to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Chase Budinger, a small forward who will more than likely be the first man off the bench. Furthermore, as the free-agency window opened at midnight, July 1st, multiple sources are reporting the Timberwolves have shown serious interest in a number of free agents. Here is a summary of their activity so far:
Brandon Roy – The Timberwolves reached out to Brandon Roy’s agent before free agency even began. Roy, a former member of the Portland Trail Blazers, retired due to chronic knee injuries but has since recovered after undergoing the platelet-rich plasma therapy procedure that Lakers star Kobe Bryant had in Germany last year. Roy is being targeted by the Mavs, Pacers, Bulls, Warriors and Wolves and will be making his decision in the coming days.
Nicolas Batum – Nicolas Batum, 23, was tendered a qualifying offer by the Portland Trail Blazers which made him a restricted free agent. The Wolves, however, have been pushing hard to land Batum by offering him a 4 year deal worth reportedly $45-$50 million. All signs point that Batum will sign the qualifying contract with the Timberwolves come July 11th (the date restricted free agents can sign). Since Batum is an RFA, the Blazers will have 3 days, per the new CBA, to match any offer sheet that Batum signs. The Blazers on the other hand seem to be headed in a different direction. Whether or not the Timberwolves forced their hand with the Batum offer sheet, reports indicate that Portland has offered Pacers center Roy Hibbert a 4 year, $58 million max deal. If Hibbert ends up signing with the Blazers and the Pacers don’t match, Batum will all but fall into the laps of Minnesota.
Jamal Crawford – The Timberwolves were interested in Crawford as a free agent last season and were very close to acquiring him via trade before the deadline this past season. Crawford has recently opted out of his contract making him an unrestricted free agent. Reports say that the Minnesota is no longer a finalist for Jamal as the 76ers, Suns, Clippers, Celtics and Pacers have all moved ahead.
Greg Stiemsma – With Darko Milicic more than likely to be amnestied and Brad Miller set to retire, the Timerbwolves are in the market for a backup center. Once a member of the Timberwolves in 2010, Stiemsma could make his return – and this time actually play in a game. Stiemsma visited the Wolves and as reported by Darren Wolfson, Stiemsma’s agent said, “Greg thoroughly enjoyed his visit”. The Celtics are still the clear front-runners for Stiemsma, but Minnesota will most likely make him an offer that Boston will have to think seriously about matching.
Jordan Hill – Yet another big man to help backup Nikola Pekovic, Hill has great size and will surley pack a better punch than Darko Milicic. Jordan Hill was traded from the Rockets to the Lakers last season and is a free agent target for the Lakers, Warriors, and Wolves. Hill is only 24 years old and would add much needed depth the the 5. According to ESPN, Jordan Hill’s agent and the Lakers have already had a discussion, “It was a very good discussion.”
Willie Green – According to Darren Wolfson the Timberwolves have also reached out to Willie Green, who finished the 2011-12 season with the Atlanta Hawks. Green, 30, played a majority of his career as a role player for the Philadelphia 76ers and had his best shooting season last year at 47%. Green would add depth to the Timberwolves team that ended the season without Ridinour, Rubio, and Love.