It's that time of the year folks: free agency.
Tomorrow morning the 2007/08 salary season ends and things like BYC contracts reset to their new amounts, raises take effect (congratulations Al Jefferson), and free agents become...well, free.
This doesn't mean that folks will begin signing free agents tonight at 12:01 AM. Nope, the NBA has a week-long moratorium until July 8th: the date at which free agents can be signed, salaries will be adjusted to the new cap, and extensions can be offered. For the Wolves, Rashad McCants is the only player that would likely be eligible for a raise/extension and I'd bet a box of donuts that will not happen.
What will happen in the next week? Teams will talk to one another as well as prospective free agents and deals, plots, and schemes will be hatched to bring this player or that player here and/or there.
As you may have already heard, today is the deadline for exercising options or tendering qualifying offers to players with these sorts of things on the books. The Wolves have extended qualifying offers to restricted free agents Ryan Gomes, Craig Smith, and Chris Richard. Sebastian Telfair and Kirk Snyder were not so lucky.
Snyder is likely gone as Mike Miller probably sealed the deal on the need for an additional wing player. Telfair's qualifying offer was somewhere in the neighborhood of $3.5 mil but I suspect the team will try to bring him back for a different (i.e. lesser) amount.
Cutting to the chase, the bottom line here is that the Wolves have a week to talk to other teams about backup point guards. Either they re-sign Bassy or they work out a sign and trade with another team by dangling out a guy like Smith. (There are clearly other options, but if the Wolves do choose to move someone, this is the most likely route short of trading McCants.) Why is this likely the case?
The Wolves have 9 guys locked up for the season: Jefferson, Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal, Jason Collins, Randy Foye, Corey Brewer, Mark Madsen, McCants, and Kevin Love. Gomes and Richard will likely be resigned. That leaves 1 active roster spot for the Rhino and Bassy. The team absofrickinlutely needs another point. My guess is that Smith had his option exercised so that the Wolves could match any offer and then move him in a deal for a backup point like Kyle Lowry. I'm sure the subject of Lowry was brought up in the Love/Mayo talks with Memphis.
Things to watch for with the Wolves:
- The Los Angeles Clippers. If the Clips make a run at UFA (and former Wolf for a Day) Beno Urdih, watch for injured point Shaun Livingston to become available. If Livingston is not extended a QO by the end of the day, he's on the open market and the Wolves should make a call to Livingston's agent and LA to see what it would take to make Livingston a Timberwolf. While Livingston would be a risk, he would likely be a 2 year risk that would clear the books before 2010 if he didn't pay off. If he *does* payoff, then the Wolves suddenly have a backcourt/wing that goes 6'7", 6'4", and 6'8".
- John Lucas. His name has repeatedly popped up as a potential option for the Wolves.
- Rookie free agents. The Wolves have signed Drew Nietzel to play on their summer team and he could be stashed away in the D-League should things go south during the season at the point.
- Will Bassy get a big offer from another team? The Wolves may be playing with fire when it comes to Bassy. Let's say that a point-hungry team like the Clips offer up a full MLE to Telfair. Then the Wolves' backup point is likely gone. There are plenty of teams out there who saw what Bassy did last year and they could do worse at the backup 1 than Mr. Telfair...like the Heat for instance.
- Steve Blake. I don't know what the Wolves could give Portland to get him out of the final year of his deal, but Blake is exactly the type of good-shooting point that could spot Foye some minutes.
Finally, wouldn't Mario Chalmers be nice to have right about now? I'll say it again: the loss of Chalmers will eventually be seen as a worse loss than Mayo. The guy will be starting in Miami by the end of next season. Watch: they'll end up extending an offer to Bassy just to rub it in.
The Wolves are in bad need of a backup point. Bid adieu to either Richard or the Rhino.