It was another busy day in the NBA off-season yesterday, with the big news being that Kevin Durant decided to leave the Thunder and sign a two year deal with the Golden State Warriors. It makes the Warriors prohibitive favorites next season. They now have the last two NBA MVPs, in addition to stars Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. On paper, it's fearsome, and I expect it to be on the court as well.
There was significant fallout from that decision: The Warriors promptly renounced Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli, and traded Andrew Bogut to the Mavs, who also reached an agreement on a 4 year. $94M deal with Barnes. The Warriors apparently have players lining up for roster spots, and were able to sign Zaza Pachulia, the Mavs starting center last season, on the cheap to replace some of their lost size.
Soon after, Pau Gasol, a Wolves target, agreed to terms with the San Antonio Spurs, a team and player marriage that seemed inevitable.
The Wolves, meanwhile, were quiet. So far their free agency haul is local boy Cole Aldrich. Jon Krawczynski of the AP reported what we already knew: The Wolves are at a real disadvantage in recruiting free agents:
Spoke to a number of people across the league during quiet Wolves FA. There's still a "tundra tax" they have to pay to get guys here ...— Jon Krawczynski (@APkrawczynski) July 4, 2016
Wolves still won just 29 last year. Stars are still young and everyone wants to see how Thibs puts his system in before committing ...— Jon Krawczynski (@APkrawczynski) July 4, 2016
Credible reports had the Wolves as the highest bidder for Courtney Lee, who wound up choosing the Knicks, and with a higher offer to Pau Gasol than he wound up accepting from the Spurs. One wonders if they were told by many of the guys they "called on" that the Wolves were not an option.
Obviously none of this comes as a surprise, and while I've made it clear I'm not a believer in assuming only three years from now matters, the truth is it's not a disaster that they have more or less struck out in free agency. What will not be good, however, is if this continues to be a problem next summer. In order to at least try to avoid that, they have to be a winning team this season. I'm optimistic, but nothing is certain.
If they are a better team and still get shut out in free agency, then we might have a real problem.
Meanwhile, they remain in desperate need of quality wing play, of which there is none left on the market. Their options at this point are to either round out the roster with replacement level fodder, or make a trade. Neither is hugely appealing, but we'll see what happens.
ASIDE: Is anyone else bothered that they haven't staffed up at all? They've hired one assistant coach, and as far as I know, have hired zero front office help. Maybe I missed something. That strikes me as worrisome--especially at this busy time.
SIDEBAR to the ASIDE: Does anyone else find imagining Thibs and Layden pitching free agents amusing? I don't think it's even a tiny part of the problem, but I have trouble envisioning those guys making a stylish, persuasive pitch. It makes me smile a little bit.
Today's musical birthday is Robbie Robertson of The Band (born in 1943)
What ya got?