Free agency begins, Gay and Lee schedule visits to MN, Kahn says team is "very, very close" to deal with Pekovic, Darko's agent says player "would be happy to come back if everything worked out" and more
Al Jefferson of the Minnesota Timberwolves has requested a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Wolves tried to move Al leading up to the NBA Draft. Two teams that have shown serious interest include the Denver Nuggets and Chicago Bulls.
The Timberwolves site has audio of David Kahn addressing the media about the start of free agency.
The Timberwolves opened free agency Wednesday night by immediately courting forwards Rudy Gay and David Lee.
Gay and Lee will make visits this week to the Twin Cities to see what the Wolves have to offer, which includes about $20 million in salary cap space. Gay will arrive today and stay through the middle of Friday, followed by an all-day visit Saturday with Lee, according to Wolves president of basketball operations David Kahn.
"Those are the only two people I anticipated calling today," Kahn said in a conference call late Wednesday after free agency began at 11:01 p.m. "That doesn't mean that we may not ask others to come in, but they clearly were the two players I felt we wanted to meet and wanted to get to know better and have an opportunity to have a dialogue with."
Gay and Lee each will tour Target Center and the Twins' new stadium next door and visit with team personnel, including owner Glen Taylor.
"I expect these to be very serious visits," Kahn said. "I look forward to getting to know them better as a person, what their aspirations are and where they want to take their careers."
Kahn was asked if the visits might help dispel any preconceived notions a free agent might have about a franchise that won 15 games last season.
"If you look at some of the teams -- even those teams that have a lot of [salary cap] room -- some of them frankly have some of the same challenges we do," he said, "and I bet they don't at all feel hampered. I think we have a decent little story to tell."
Kahn on whether Wes J & Gay could co-exist: "Sure they could... Wes can guard two-guards... I see as an opportunity."
Also from Darren Wolfson's twitter account:
Kahn did say that David Lee & Love are comparable... but... "he and Kevin could play minutes side-by-side."
European prospect Nikola Pekovic also reportedly has agreed to a three-year, $13 million contract to leave his Greek team and come to the NBA.
Chad Ford reported the terms. Kahn said the sides are "very, very close" but said no deal is done until the contract's signed.
Kahn said he didn't reach out to the agents for LeBron, DWade or Chris Bosh tonight
He said "no tonight" and said it's "pretty obvious" the three players will end up elsewhere.
From Sekou Smith/NBA.com:
Yet, the Timberwolves managed to make news on opening night/morning.
That they’ve even entered the conversation reminds us all just how wonderfully twisted a time this is. The same team that acquired three new small forwards on draft night makes it’s splash in free agency by reaching out to what else but another small forward in Gay.
In fact, the Timberwolves have the first confirmed free agent get of the season, reaching an agreement on three-year deal with 2008 second round draft pick Nikola Pekovic, per ESPN.com’s Chad Ford.
It’s okay to yawn right now. No offense to Pekovic, who by all accounts is an accomplished player. But we didn’t stay up all day waiting for news on Pekovic.
From Chris Sheridan/ESPN:
David Lee was a wanted man after the clock struck midnight Thursday, so wanted that he has already lined up meetings with four teams: Miami, Chicago, Minnesota and New Jersey.
From Chad Ford/ESPN:
The Minnesota Timberwolves reached a verbal agreement on a three-year, $13 million contract with their 2008 second-round pick Nikola Pekovic, two league sources told ESPN.com's Chad Ford.
New Jersey and Minnesota are the favorites for Memphis Grizzlies’ restricted free agent Rudy Gay.
Deals can be agreed to but no signings can occur until July 8, when the new salary cap takes hold. "I've never seen anything like it," said Minnesota Timberwolves President David Kahn, whose club has roughly $20 million to spend. "It's going to be crazy, and we need to jump into the craziness."
Kahn was to make invitations Wednesday night to a couple of free agents to tour Minneapolis. Taking in a Twins game or two at Target Field adjacent the Wolves' Target Center arena was expected to be included.
Of chances of signing a free agent, Kahn said, "It would have to be the right deal, if they like us," Kahn said. "There's a lot of things that would have to fall into place. But let's take this one step at a time."
Kahn confirmed that the Dallas Mavericks have called about a trade for power forward Al Jefferson, but he didn't seem especially interested in what Dallas had to offer.
"It's early, much too early," Kahn said.
The Wolves are a smaller-market, lower-revenue team as well and just acquired two young, more affordable small-forward options in the form of #4 pick Wesley Johnson and trade acquisition Martell Webster, to go with a former lottery pick on the roster in Corey Brewer whose best position is also small forward. Given all that, spending an enormous amount on Gay doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. Then again, Minnesota's current regime hasn't exactly been easy to predict.
"Darko, we think, could be our starting center this year and we'd like to have him back," Kahn said.
Milicic's agent, Marc Cornstein, said Wednesday that his client is definitely open to returning to Minnesota.
"I know he really enjoyed his time in Minnesota and would be happy to come back if everything worked out," Cornstein said.
Cornstein said he didn't think the Wolves' negotiations with European prospect Nikola Pekovic would affect the Darko negotiations, although it will in this way:
You can bet Milicic won't take less than what Pekovic gets. Pekovic's agents could be seeking as much as $5 million a year, which, of course, doesn't mean they'll get that much.
"He was the starting center for them," Cornstein said about his client.
From David Thorpe/ESPN: Rookie Watch: Head of the new class
2. Wesley Johnson, Timberwolves
My regular readers may be surprised to see Johnson ranked this high, considering I've always pegged him as just a solid player. But "solid" will earn you minutes in the NBA as a rookie, and it's likely that Johnson, the No. 4 pick, will share the two wing spots with Corey Brewer and Martell Webster, so he'll get ample time to put up numbers.
Minnesota also can be expected to move either or both of those aforementioned veterans as they shop Al Jefferson around, and that would only add minutes, touches and opportunities for Johnson to shine further.