According to Doogie, the Wolves are looking at some SF options now that Howard is out. Being the ardent Wolves fan I am, I want MOAR rumors about what we're up to!! However, no one really cares about end of the bench guys signed to 10 day contracts, so I've been left to do my own cursory digging. While I fully understand that this is an exercise in wasted time and hopes and dreams ('imagine what Unicorn magic could do to these guys??!!! OMG - the Nuggets are going down!!' or some such nonsense), we did at one point sign Steemer to a 10 day contract and then he turned out to be a somewhat useful end of the bench guy.
So - I'm not predicting anything more than perhaps 5-8 minutes per game, OK? What I'm curious about is what could we get for those 5-8 minutes?
On to Doogie's revelations:
Sweet. Lazar. Best shooter in that year's draft class. (You guys remember that? When his fellow rookies voted him as best shooter? Oh, good times.) Owns the distinction of being one of the rare players who got worse by leaving the Wolves to play with Durant and Westbrook.
OPINION = just say no, Rick! Lazar hasn't ever shown the proclivity to understand how to get his shots within the offense, and doesn't possess the makeup beyond that mentality to blend in with the defense, pass the ball, or do other things when AK is not on the floor.
So how about CDR? Dude is ripping up the D-league. I guess I don't really know why the Wolves wouldn't be interested, other than my dim recollections of CDR suggesting that he had attitude problems or something like that when he was last in the league. A brief intertrons search suggests that he's a gunner, and on this team TEAM is the who shebang, especially for an end of the bench guy. See last video/gif for what I'm talking about.
OPINION = just say no, Rick! The scoring potential off the bench is tempting, but I'm not sold on the maturity or other skills. As we've seen this year, the Wolves need to maintain offensive ball movement and people movement (keep making cuts, dammit!), not hero ball. Besides, unless a given player is elite on offense, I'm guessing that defensive ability is the number criteria for this role. Also, CDR might want too much money/minutes to sign.
Street free agents, like Donte Green. Dude has size, can score. Other stuff? Not so sure. He's a guy who playing with Adelman, AK, and Rubio and Shved could (and I emphasize COULD) make a big difference in his offensive awareness development. Sometimes guys just need to see on the floor how other guys do it. Derrick Williams, in my opinion, is a bit this way this year. I think AK has been a huge positive for Derrick in terms of mentoring and demonstrating how to play the game.
OPINION = maybe, Rick. Just maybe. For a flyer guy, like Josh Howard before, I don't really know. To paraphrase the great Charles Barkley, Green 'could be good, could be bad...', (and kudos to you if you know the rest of that quote). I'll trust Rick's judgment on Green.
How about Shawne Williams? Great size and length.
OPINION = nope. Next.
Bobby Simmons. Josh Howard worked out OK, right (I mean, knee injury was a buzzkill, but before that)? He's a veteran guy (32 years old), knows his role and skill set. Not sure if he's still injured or in shape or not. Sounds like the kind of guy who Rick would be fond of.
OPINION = flat meter. If we sign him, great. If not, great. Just not a difference maker in the short or long term. I suppose that makes him the definition of replacement level.
And finally, D.J. Kennedy. Who is D.J. Kennedy? Why, he's the one D-League I found who actually intrigued me. Now I freely admit that I don't follow the D-League at all and so everything I'm about to say about this guy is based off of other people's assessments, but that doesn't mean that they're wrong either. For me, a guy like D.J. Kennedy is the gist of what this post is actually about - a move that suggests a subtle change in the way the Wolves scout, sign, and develop talent. We see it every year - D-League players being plucked by some team who slot them into the right role at the right time, and BOOM! Success for player and team (usually modest success, but I'll take it. Anyone want Wes back? Lazar? Exactly.)
Furthermore, what are we actually trying to sign? Are we looking for a future starter? Are we looking for 'depth', aka Lou Amundson? As I see it, this team needs another functional wing player who is a high energy, team oriented player with the length and athleticism to match up with NBA SF's and potentially SG's. A guy who understands that 5 minutes a night is a good night for him - and is grateful for the opportunity to contribute. A guy who understands that his shots will come from Alexy, JJ, and Rubio setting him up in the flow of the offense, and that his most meaningful contributions are going to be defensively. And it would be nice if the guy had a little upside as well. In short, in my opinion, we're looking for a Malcolm Lee type player. In fact, in my opinion, that's exactly the kind of player we should be looking for here.
So who is D.J. Kennedy? He's certainly not perfect, but nobody we're going to bring in at this point will be.
That's an intriguing mix, don't you think? Now factor in DX's assessment of him, and tell me that you wouldn't be against a couple of 10 contracts to see if this guy has any sticking power in the NBA (bolding is mine):
As we noted the last time we wrote about him in December of 2009, Kennedy is a fluid and solid, albeit unspectacular, athlete who offers intriguing versatility and good size on the wing. The Pittsburgh native does a number of things well, but he hasn't made the jump as a scorer that would have propelled him firmly into draft conversations, instead seeing his numbers regress across the board this season.
Some of Kennedy's statistical regression can be attributed to the role he's playing. After spending a significant amount of time running the pick and roll as a junior, Kennedy has seldom had a chance to exploit his size, basketball IQ, and passing ability in the two-man game this season. On top of that, he has looked to put the ball on the floor and get to the rim substantially more often, reeling in his penchant for shooting jump shots from beyond the arc. [This bodes well for his potential role on the Wolves, don't you think?]
Seeing fewer touches as a primary ball-handler, shooting less than half as many three-pointers and 3.2 fewer shots per-game than he did last season, and willingly deferring to his fellow seniors, it isn't surprising to see Kennedy's numbers take a hit. Even at this level he appears most comfortable as a role player, which meshes well with what he'd be expected to do at the next level.
Though Kennedy hasn't been able to handle the ball as regularly as he used to, he still flashes a smooth floor game and the ability to push the ball himself in transition. A fairly heady passer, he has looked to pick and choose his spots in transition and half court sets. Not as aggressive as a shooter, he's done most of his damage on the fast break. [Again, this fits nicely on this Wolves team. All he needs to do offensively is finish the shots that are created for him, especially in transition.]
When the game slows down, Kennedy has shot the ball reasonably well this season, but simply doesn't attempted that many jumpers. [This is a good thing, especially for the role we're looking to fill.] Having knocked down some 37% of his jump shots according to Synergy Sports Technology, he has shown reliable mechanics with his feet set, but has struggled to knock down shots off the dribble. Lacking the ability to create separation at will attacking the rim and altering his form when defended, the lefty wing was more efficient off the dribble last season when he was hoisting up shots from the perimeter working off of screens.
Defensively, Kennedy is an exceptional stopper at the NCAA level. Whether he's cleaning the glass, contesting shots, or cutting off penetration, his defensive ability is impressive and ranks as one of his best assets as a prospect. [This is the main reason why I like him as a prospect. If the whole point is to give AK a breather, it'd be nice to have a solid defender out there to prevent 3's from killing our second unit.]
Similar to former Memphis TigerAntonio Andersonon a number of levels, Kennedy has never been one to blow anyone away on first glance, and his role at the next level would unquestionably be as a role player. Despite taking a step back this season, Kennedy remains one of the more versatile wings in the senior class, and is completely capable of showing well at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament should he elect to attend.
OPINION = get her done, Rick! If I had to choose anybody to sign, today, it would be this guy. Whoever we sign is going to have a marginal impact on the outcome of games, so why not see if we can find something in the young guy? Hell, we gave Wes Johnson over 1400 minutes last year. This guy is not going to be worse than that. Seriously. Let's all take a moment to remember where we've been. AK - Wes = Kevin Durant. Truth.
The only way I see signing Kennedy as having a downside is if AK goes down for another 5-6 games with back spasms. I don't think we want him playing extended minutes, but again, in my opinion, having him as a spot defender matching up with a given guy for 10-15 minutes in one game isn't all that bad either.
OK, there is one other guy who would be a nice signing for us, but there's no way we're getting him this year (and I should also say that I'm not sure if we can sign Kennedy outright or not. Don't think anyone owns his rights, but if someone knows please share.) Nemanja Bjelica (aka Bjelly) would be a great backup pickup for us. He's got size, handles, court vision, and an OK scoring ability. His defense isn't great but isn't terrible either. He's the kind of guy that kills teams because, like Shved and Ricky, he simply gets it where the ball needs to go and when. You'll see next year, when he joins the Wolves.