The Timberwolves's new front office made their first splash in the free agency market yesterday with the signing of Cole Aldrich, a journeyman center who has been able to carve out a role for himself in the league through his hard work, defense, and rebounding skills. Aldrich was signed to a reasonable deal, especially considering the new cap, at 3 years and $22 million. He will definitely help bolster our front court that was left in tatters during the much of last season when Kevin Garnett and Nikola Pekovic were both injured and the Timberwolves were almost completely reliant upon Gorgui Dieng and Karl-Anthony Towns.
Today will be another exciting day for the NBA's free agency as Kevin Durant has stated that he will make his decision sometime in the next 12 hours or so. As of now. the frontrunners to sign the former MVP are clearly the Golden State Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder, with the Boston Celtics running as the dark horse candidate in this race. Odds are that the Thunder will be able to retain Kevin Durant with a 2-year deal that includes a player option on the second year, which is what everyone has been predicting for the entire season.
Pau Gasol will also likely decide his landing spot today and the Timberwolves have been one of his suitors. The deals for Gasol have been around the 2-year $40 million range, so expect to see something like that wherever he goes. If Gasol does sign with the Timberwolves, we would have a pretty significant roster imbalance, especially with the recent Aldrich signing, However, the odds are pretty against the Wolves in this case, as Gasol will likely end up playing for a more sure-fire contender, with the San Antonio Spurs emerging as the likely destination.
The Wolves have not addressed their shortage of playable wings. We currently have only Shabazz Muhammad, Zach LaVine, and Andrew Wiggins to fill in the 2 and 3 spots. There are a ton of minutes to go around and even with the mystical ability of new President of Basketball Operations Thibodeau to make everyone better at defense, all three of those players have been defensive sieves throughout their careers. Those three have also been wildly inconsistent in their outside shooting abilities and it's tough to imagine the hot streak that the Wolves rode during the post-all star break period will continue permanently without some ups and downs.
The problematic reality is that there is not really a ton of talent left at the wing position or shooting guard. There are a couple of Trailblazers out there like Gerald Henderson, who is an unrestricted free agent, and Allen Crabbe and Maurice Harkless, who are both restricted. Crabbe reportedly signed an offer sheet with the Brooklyn Nets at 4 years and $70 million, but this news has been refuted. However, the fact that this news was accepted as real until it was debunked gives us an idea of what an offer sheet for Crabbe could look like, which would remove him from the Timberwolves' radar as the front office has been quite noticeably avoiding any 4-year deals.
There are a few more wings out there, but no one can effectively fill the roles that the Wolves need in regards to defense and shooting. Those guys were out there during the beginning of free agency, but either the Wolves were not providing competitive offers, as was the case with Courtney Lee and Luol Deng, or were not considered as a viable destination.
Hopefully we will see some more excitement today on the Timberwolves front today, and will certainly see some across the NBA when Durant makes his decision. NBA Free Agency aside, I hope everyone has a great 4th of July and is able to enjoy the festivities.