With NBA free agency approaching it’s third week, most of the notable players on every team’s wish list have been locked up, leaving a sparse list of available talent as well as an even sparser list of team’s with available spending money.
While a few interesting players (most notably JaMychal Green, Jonathon Simmons, Nerlens Noel, and Pau Gasol) are still looking for new deals, it appears that most of the seismic #WojBombs and #ShamWows have now occurred, leaving a majority of NBA teams with little wiggle room financially to finalize their 2017-2018 roster.
According to Eric Picnus at Basketball Insiders, the Wolves currently have 11 players on contract for the upcoming season (including the soon-to-be-signed Jamal Crawford), resulting in an estimated $2.6 million dollars in cap space. While the maximum number of players on a roster is currently 15, Head Coach/POBO Tom Thibodeau stated during a recent media availability that the team would keep the 15th roster spot open to allow for flexibility as the season approaches.
Utilizing the skills I learned during my MBA program, that would mean that the Wolves still have three important roster spots to fill (14 - 11 = 3), with just $3 million to do so. While the core of the roster is now finalized, these three roster spots are still very important, considering the Wolves still only have three total wings on their roster and no emergency backup to second-year PG Tyus Jones.
So what’s left? Unfortunately, armed with only minimum contracts, the options are extremely limited. Regardless, let’s look at the top 5 players still floating in the free agency pool that would simultaneously fit the Wolves current needs (assuming they are on-board accepting the minimum):
5. Mike Dunleavy
The “Mike Dunleavy to the Wolves” rumors have been flowing consistently since the beginning of free agency, partly because of his ties to his time with Thibs in Chicago, and partly because he's another minimum-contract type player who has an above average pulse from the three-point line.
Over his last seven seasons, Dunleavy has shot 38% or better from the three-point line. During that same span, Dunleavy has failed to play in 60 or more games just three of those seven seasons, highlighting that age (he will turn 37 this September) is beginning to take its toll on the Duke alum.
4. Anthony Morrow
This one is tough. While Morrow does possess a silky smooth jumper and is a career 42% launcher from deep (ranking his 11th all time), the 31-year old out of North Carolina, known by some as “Chocolate Reign,” has never truly found success in his 9 seasons in the NBA, bouncing around to 7 different teams. Morrow has failed to average 20 minutes a game more than one season since 2011, and has essentially become a specialist who is only used in super special situations.
Morrow will undoubtably draw interest from multiple contenders as free agency continues to wind down. His defensive skills are nonexistent, but shooters shoot, and Morrow shoots it better than almost anyone in the league.
3. Ian Clark
The four-year pro out of Belmont University played an important (albeit small) role for the defending champion Warriors last season, averaging a career high in minutes per game (14.8) and points per game (6.8). A career 36.4% three-point shooter, Clark doesn't have the necessary skills (specifically vision and handle) to run the backup point, but is an above-average spot-up shooter that could be called upon to space the floor from time to time. With players like Butler, Wiggins, Teague, and Crawford expected to chew up most of the available dribbles for the Wolves, having a proven winner spotting up from the corners would be a helpful asset, especially at the minimum.
2. Tony Allen
At 35 years-old, the heart of the “Grit ‘n Grind” lifestyle suddenly finds himself in search of potentially a new home, after spending 7 seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Clippers and Timberwolves are two teams I've heard that have interest in Tony Allen. Doc Rivers, Thibs have ties to him from Celtics days.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) July 12, 2017
As Tim MacMahon points out, he does have experience playing for Tom Thibodeau while with the Boston Celtics. Allen does literally nothing to aid the Wolves in their search for additional, cheap shooters, but was a beloved fan-favorite during his stints in Boston and Memphis and would give the Wolves a First-Team All Defensive presence off the bench.
1. Jason Terry
As far as I can tell, there hasn’t been any “Jason Terry to the Wolves” steam thus far, so I’m more than comfortable starting the movement. The JET has bounced around the league during his 18 seasons in the NBA, most notably playing a key role with the Dallas Mavericks during the 2011 season en route to their 2011 NBA Finals title.
Terry played in 74 games last year for the Milwaukie Bucks, and while he averaged a career low in points per game (4.1), he did pump out a career high in three-point percentage (42.7%) while also successfully displaying the ability to play both the backup PG position and also spotting up alongside ball-dominant players like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker.
In terms of defense, small doses of a Jason Terry/Jamal Crawford backcourt may be just enough to turn Thibs into a chain smoker, but it would also be one of the greatest heat check duos in recent memory. Terry was acknowledged multiple times last year as being a great mentor and teammate for Giannis, and for the veteran minimum, would be a great addition to the Wolves’ current bench woes.
What does your top 5 list look like? Am I missing anyone? Considering their minimal role and minimum contract, I’m not expecting these last three roster spots to be filled with stars, so I’m definitely open to other suggestions/possibilities (as long as its not Derrick Rose).