It seems as though everyone has had time to either vent their grievances on CH, bash Flip on Twitter, or release your anger/angst/disappointment in the drafting of Shabazz Muhammed. We know advanced stats suggest a bad match, his character is reasonably in question, and he is possibly doesn't truly fit in at SG or SF. We all know one thing, he can flat-out score in spite of some predictable tendencies like going left. The Wolves ranked 20th in points per contest, 20th in points per possession, and T-26th in adjusted field-goal percentage. If Adelman uses Shabazz wisely and can get him to buy into the system, we should expect our rankings in these categories to rise. Put him in catch & shoots, get him driving to the lane, yada yada yada. Of course the improvement of Ricky Rubio and health of Kevin Love are key factors, but I also expect Shabazz to be that instant offense off the bench as the season progresses. The team did post a respectable 34.3 ppg (13th in the league) from their bench each game, and it was more than likely due to the circumstance of injuries that one or two players stepped up each night out of necessity.
Ok enough of me trying to make light of drafting Shabazz, and I'm sure some of you are still livid. Flip takes CJ McCollum and I'm not writing this. That is why I present you with this:
It's time to move on with ourselves and look to free agency. There are currently 9 players on the roster. I omitted Lorenzo Brown and Bojan Dubljevic because they aren't guarenteed contracts, although Brown seems to have a good shot at making the roster from what Flip said.
Guards: Rubio, Ridnour, Barea, Shved
Forwards: Muhammed, Williams, Cunningham, Love
This roster still needs a bit of fine tuning, and we have plenty of tricky situations going into this free agency. Nikola Pekovic has been labeled as the number one priority to resign, and we still don't know if Andrei Kirilenko will opt in/out of his 1-year, $10 million deal. There's some other guys with expired deals, but we probably won't keep them all.
Current Free Agents/Contract Options
Nikola Pekovic (RFA)
Chase Budinger (RFA)
Andrei Kirilenko (Player Option, $10 million)
Greg Stiemsma (Team Option, $2.7 million)
I see Greg Stiemsma being handled like this in two scenarios. 1) We manage to resign Pekovic, and with Dieng backing him up there's no need for a 3rd center. Option isn't picked up, good luck elsewhere Greg. You're sure to land somewhere. 2) We sign-and trade Pekovic with (insert team not named Portland here) or we choose not to match because someone offered $15 million/year. Stiemsma stays as the starting center unless Dieng proves superior which I think he can.
It would be best for the Wolves' salary cap if Kirilenko opted out of his deal. We know AK-47 wants multiple years, and may be willing to take less money elsewhere in order to do so. His decision might impact the future of Chase Budinger as a Timberwolf. Another injury-riddled player, Budinger was essentially traded for the draft rights to Royce White. We are clearly the winners of that deal, and Budinger provides the sharpshooting this team needs. It would be very wise to keep him around, and it should be easy given that the injury likely reduced his market value. Please opt out AK!
The Pekovic signing is a trickier obstacle than most perceive it to be. He has the legit size to bang bodies with NBA centers, and can provide a great offensive spark down low. He's not a defensive ace by any means, but many teams would shell out top dollar for 16 and 9 from their starting center. The big question mark is how high is Minnesota willing to go? I would definitely match anything up to $12 million/year, but is a team (cough Portland cough) going to offer a Roy Hibbert max-deal to put us in a bind? Flip can't show his bluff here, and I think he can successfully maneuver his way into a sign-and-trade if necessary. He sure fooled his own fan base by picking Shabazz, so here's to hoping he can swindle Paul Allen (Portland, not KFAN) in a way that would make Daryl Morey proud. Worst case scenario for the Pekovic signing: We pull an OKC and break a dollar (James Harden) for four quarters (Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, and picks).
Free agent market
We know we're going to get a 2-guard one way or another, and it sounds like the hottest target out there is Ovinton J'Anthony Mayo. Yeah, that O.J. Mayo we traded to get Kevin Love a few years ago. I'm just going to lay this down on the line.
Pre All-Star Break: 17.9 ppg, 4.3 apg, 1.3 spg, 46.3% FG, 41.3% 3P-FG in 52 games
Post All-Star Break: 10.9 ppg, 4.5 apg, .9 spg, 41.7% FG, 39.2% 3P-FG in 30 games
Obviously played fewer games, but we know what happened. Criticism by Rick Carlisle, being disappointed with the poor record, and reverting back to bad habits. He also took about 3 fewer shots per game as well, potentially something that has to do with the coaching clash. On the bright side, he averaged more assists than ever by a considerable margin! 1.2 more per game than his previous high. For the right price, getting Mayo could end up being a great pick up for a team that wants more shooting. If he does come over, please let it be the pre all-star break version!
Other shooting guards come to mind in free agency. J.R. Smith is likely to remain in New York, and Andre Iguodala may be too expensive for a guy who isn't a sharp shooter (although I love his game). Cheaper alternatives like Anthony Morrow, Kyle Korver, Marco Belinelli, and Nick Young (a stretch) may prove to be more beneficial.
If the Pekovic situation collapses and we choose not to pay Stiemsma $2.7 million, there are a few big men out there to sign to a respectable deal. Carl Landry, J.J. Hickson, Carl Landry, Timofey Mogov, and Byron Mullens may get the most attention outside of Pekovic. Having a backup plan if the Pek deal falls through would help replace some of the muscle and scoring down low.
Ok it's 4:20 am now, and I'm tired as hell since starting this at 2:30 am. Ricky needs shooters, Flip needs to be aggressive and crafty, AK-47 should opt-out, Ricky needs shooters, and Pekovic should stay. Did I mention Ricky needs shooters? Grammar, spelling, and in-depth analytics be damned. Good night!
Poll for no reason!