Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau is still gunning hard for a playoff berth, despite numerous injuries and and a 4.5-game deficit for the eighth seed.
According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the Wolves are closing in on a deal with sharpshooter Omri Casspi. Casspi was acquired by New Orleans in the DeMarcus Cousins trade before being waived five days later.
Omri Casspi is closing on a deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves, according to league sources— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) March 19, 2017
Stein added that Boston was also in the race for Casspi, but Thibodeau’s personal recruitment pitch over dinner in New Orleans was enough to lure the stretch forward to Minnesota.
Boston had also joined the Casspi race, league sources say, but the Wolves are poised to win out after losing Zach LaVine, then Bjelica.— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) March 19, 2017
Casspi instantly provides Minnesota’s bench with an elite perimeter shooting presence to pair with athletic slashers Kris Dunn and Shabazz Muhammad. The former 23rd overall pick is a 37 percent career three-point shooter.
The 6’9”, 225-pounder has appeared in 23 games this season (one with New Orleans) and averaged 6.1 points and 4.0 rebounds per game on 46 percent shooting from the field and 38 percent from deep.
The Wolves had to make some type of move to replace Nemanja Bjelica, whose season recently ended thanks to a foot injury. Thibodeau couldn’t seriously push for a playoff spot with Adreian Payne or Jordan Hill replacing Bjelica’s minutes.
Casspi’s immediate role is yet to be determined, but he instantly bolsters Minnesota’s rather weak three-point shooting efficiency. The Wolves are currently 21st in the NBA shooting from beyond the arc at 34.9 percent.
Thibodeau’s aggressive pursuit of Casspi suggests that not only is he still keeping hopes alive for the eighth seed, but that he plans on Casspi playing a big part in that chase.