The beginning of the NBA free agency period--when teams can begin speaking to free agents (though not sign them until the moratorium ends), is always the craziest, most entertaining 48 hours of the year for NBA fans. The rumors, meetings, salary figures, midnight visits all combine to make it an incredibly exciting time--and perhaps the best use of NBA Twitter there is.
The added bonus this season is the huge increase in the salary cap (projected to be about $94M), which means that most teams in the league have significant space, something we rarely see.
The Wolves head into free agency with three free roster spots and about $27M in cap space. (On his podcast, Doogie Wolfson says $29M, but I think he has the wrong number. I can't see how he gets that number unless he isn't including Kevin Martin's cap hit. It's fairly small beer though--they have money to spend like a lot of other teams).
So. Who will the Wolves pursue? Who should they pursue?
Let's start here: This is Tom Ziller's ranking of the free agents on the market this summer. I'm less interested in the rankings than I am the fact that it's a useful list to look at. The problem is that it isn't the strongest free agent class during the summer when the league has an immense amount of money to spend. That invites some huge contracts for marginal guys that teams are likely to regret at some point in the near future.
There are several players that I would be interested in, but let's start with who the Wolves are interested in. Here are eight names reported by Darren Wolfson in the above-linked podcast that are "on the Wolves radar." Wolfson cites "league sources" for these; I doubt he's getting anything from Thibs or Layden:
Ryan Anderson (He thinks 4/$70M), Courtney Lee, Luol Deng (says 3/$50M--that seems light to me), Joakim Noah, D.J. Augustin, Kris Humphries, Randy Foye, Eric Gordon.
I wouldn't give Anderson a big deal I don't think. His game seems to have deteriorated. I like Deng and Lee, Augustin could be useful though it would compel moving Tyus Jones, Humphries isn't the worst idea if he gets a little lost in the wash and comes cheaper. Foye and Gordon seem like bad ideas, but you never know.
Guys not mentioned that I would be interested in include Jared Dudley, Dwight Powell, Trevor Booker, Solomon Hill, Kent Bazemore, Amir Johnson, Mizra Teletovic, Zaza Pachulia, John Leuer. I'm sure there are others.
At any rate, we'll have you covered with all the news and rumors.
The Lynx are back in action tonight when they host the New York Liberty and try to stop their slide at two games. The Liberty have been playing well and have moved to 10-5 on the season, so this isn't going to be an easy one, but the Lynx need to get back on track at home. If you aren't already, follow Tony @LynxPorter for in game updates, and of course he'll have the recap late tonight or tomorrow.
Finally, I feel I should mention the sad passing of Pat Summitt. There is no way I can do her justice. She was a giant of the game, a fearless pioneer of women's basketball, a monstrously successful coach, and probably did more to popularize the women's college game than anyone else. You can find tributes all over the web--here's one from the New York Times. Her devotion to coaching at Tennessee, her success (8 national titles and 1098 wins in 38 seasons), her longevity, her competitiveness and her ability to drag her sport into the limelight stand out, though I'm sure for people who knew her it was more personal things they will remember. When it comes to college basketball coaching, she has to be on the Mt. Rushmore.