The weekend has come and gone and the Wolves still have Jimmy Butler on their team. It still feels like this is not real life (and I’m sure the Bulls fans feel the same way). However, now that the Wolves roster has drastically changed due to the blockbuster draft-day trade, the team only has one week till the upcoming free agency begins.
The needs for this team have become somewhat different, as the presence of Butler means that the Wolves do not need to seek out a larger forward who can provide defense and strength, although another player who fits that bill would certainly be amazing. But the Wolves need to find someone who can shoot threes.
Last year, the Wolves shot 21 threes per game, which ranked dead last in the league. They just lost their main three-point shooter in Zach LaVine, who averaged 6.6 per game, and the team that the Wolves are constructed most similarly to from last year, the Chicago Bulls, were 29th in the league in three-point shooting with 22.4 attempts per game.
The Wolves are not necessarily devoid of three-point shooting, as Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Jimmy Butler all shoot close to the league average, but they do not have anyone who is truly a “floor spacer,” which becomes more of an issue when Gorgui Dieng and Ricky Rubio will often be on the floor.
Clearly, shooting is a dire need, and the Wolves did not pursue that in the draft with Justin Patton. The undrafted rookies that the Wolves signed certainly can all shoot threes, but the team will not be counting on those players next year.
Here is a theoretical list of three-point shooters that are available.
(Credit to Canis Hoopus commenter Suspicious Sal for putting this together)
Table is sorted by Player, age next season, 3PA/100, 3PAr, 3P%
- Nick Young, 32, 13.2, .665, .404
- CJ Miles, 30, 11.5, .632, .413
- Nikola Mirotic, 26, 11.3, .603, .342
- Marreese Speights, 30, 10.8, .505, .372
- Kyle Lowry, 31, 10.6, .510, .412
- JJ Redick, 32, 10.6, .526, .429
- Patty Mills, 29, 10.3, .572, .413
- Kyle Korver, 36, 10.2, .697, .451
- Tim Hardaway, 25, 9.5, .457, .357
- Ersan Ilyasova, 30 (but really 32), 9.2, .452, .353
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, 24, 8.7, .471, .350
- Vince Carter, 41, 8.6, .604, .378
- Justin Holiday, 28, 8.3, .507, .355
- Patrick Patterson, 28, 8.0, .659, .372
- Tony Snell, 26, 7.7, .656, .406
- Joe Ingles, 30, 7.4, .619, .441
- Matt Barnes, 37, 7.4, .556, .331
- Danilo Gallinari, 29, 7.4, .432, .389
- Deron Williams, 33, 7.3, .390, .363
- Ian Clark, 26, 6.9, .376, .374
- Otto Porter, 24, 6.5, .425, .434
- Jason Terry 40, 6.4, .704, .427
- Jrue Holiday, 26, 6.3, .314, .356
- Kelly Olynyk, 26, 6.2, .378, .354
- James Johnson, 30, 6.2, .333, .340
Ok, that is a lot of names. Let’s dig in.
First of all, the Wolves can probably cross off a few restricted free agents that the other team will likely match, the Wolves cannot put together a competitive enough offer to have the team not match, or they don’t make sense to overpay. So that takes off Otto Porter, KCP, probably Tim Hardaway Jr., and probably Tony Snell.
We can also take off a few guys who the Wolves probably can’t get right now, barring a Ricky Rubio trade, so there goes Kyle Lowry and Jrue Holiday. Of course, if Rubio is traded, the Wolves major free agent target will likely be Jrue. He makes perfect sense with this roster. However, New Orleans will do anything they can to make sure he stays, as they have no other option. George Hill could come into play at that point too, as well as Patty Mills.
That leaves quite a few names and a variety of positions, primarily Wings, Guards, and Forwards.
- C.J. Miles
- Nick Young
- JJ Reddick
- Kyle Korver
- Vince Carter
- Joe Ingles
- Matt Barnes
- Ian Clark
Korver, Barnes, and Carter are probably ring-chasing, or retiring, at this point in their careers. I would not count on any of them. Nick Young does not seem like he would be a Thibs type of guy, to say the least, but that leaves a few interesting players.
C.J. Miles, JJ Reddick, Joe Ingles, and Ian Clark seem like the most likely targets.
I would probably rank them
- JJ Reddick
- Joe Ingles
- C.J. Miles
- Ian Clark
However, JJ could easily be very expensive. Joe Ingles also requires that Utah not match any offer sheet, which is up in the air depending on how their plans with Gordon Hayward and George Hill go. C.J. might be in the sweet spot, as he is coming off a mid-level exception deal of about 4.5 million a year. However, he could also be looking for his first big contract after a career best year. It will certainly be interesting to see what the market prices these guys at, but the Wolves could easily find themselves in the running here.
- Justin Holiday
- Jason Terry
- Deron Williams
Terry and Deron Williams probably aren’t coming to the Wolves. At this point, it seems like it is probably just objectively better to let Tyus Jones run back-up, as he is also a pretty good three-point shooter. Justin Holiday has bounced around the league, but maybe the Wolves can try to sign him on a small deal in order to facilitate a larger Jrue Holiday deal?
- Nikola Mirotic
- Mareese Speights
- Ersan Ilyasova
- Patrick Patterson
- Danilo Gallinari
- Kelly Olynk
- James Johnson
I’m not sure what to think about Speights, but the Wolves certainly do not need another Center. James Johnson seems to be trying to stay in Miami. So that leaves quite a few interesting options.
MIrotic and Olynyk are both restricted free agents and it is very unclear if their teams will match larger offers. Boston will have it’s hands full this free agency and could easily spike over the cap and who knows what Chicago is doing.
Ilyasova is another under the radar guy and could be a good fit, but likely overlaps with Nemanja Bjelica’s skillset quite a bit.
Two names that are quite interesting are Gallinari and Patrick Patterson. Wolves fans have been clamoring for Patterson for quite some time, as he seems to be a great fit for the roster and is quite gettable as Toronto will not be able to pay all of their free agents. The same theory holds true for P.J. Tucker, who is not on this list but would also fit in amazingly here.
However, Gallinari would be a lower-key “big game hunting,” that would be an incredible fit for the Wolves. His injury concerns may drive down his price to within the $20 million range that the Wolves will likely find themselves in and the Nuggets’ offense simply exploded once they moved Gallo to power forward. A lineup of Rubio, Wiggins, Butler, Gallo, and Towns is a team that is ready to compete right now for a top-four seed in the Western Conference.
If the Wolves do keep Rubio, then the path forward is to bring on a large forward who can shoot threes. Gallo and Patrick Patterson certainly fit the bill.