The Kyrie Irving story is a godsend for the NBA media, blogs, and fans, coming as it has as the free agent frenzy slows and the league enters its traditional dead period of August until training camp begins.
Regardless of when and how the Irving situation resolves, the Wolves sit on July 27th with only 11 players on their roster (not including Anthony Brown, who they signed to a two-way deal.) Assuming they plan to open the season with 14 (leaving a spot open,) they need to acquire three more players, and given that they only have three wings on the roster as it stands, two of them probably need to be able to play those spots. The third is likely going to be a veteran point guard.
That’s as it stands now; if the Wolves trade for Irving, their needs will be different (and perhaps greater if it is a two or three-for-one deal.)
At any rate, we were leafing through a list of remaining veteran free agents, and here are some guys that stand out (relatively.)
Tony Allen is probably the top wing player left. He’s 35 years old, can’t shoot the ball, and can be expected to miss some games every year. He can still guard people about as well as any wing in the league, however. He led the league in steal percentage in two of the last three seasons (including last year,) and was named second team all-defense the past two seasons, after his “FIRST TEAM ALL-DEFENSE” run earlier this decade. He brings some grit with him, something the Wolves can use more of, and would no doubt be appreciated by Tom Thibodeau. So far he has not been willing to accept a minimum deal; hopefully the Wolves are a team he would consider if that changes.
A younger, sprier option is Ian Clark, fresh off two seasons with the champion Golden State Warriors. He was a part of the rotation for the Warriors all year including the playoffs, and contributed some decent bench scoring from the off-guard spot. In about 15 minutes per game he averaged almost seven points per on terrific efficiency. The Warriors make it easy, but still, Clark showed he belongs. He’s a decent shooter, but a little small and not a great defender. He also has yet to make big money, and no doubt was hoping for a significant payday this summer. That hasn’t happened, but like Allen so far has shown no desire to accept a minimum contract.
Who wouldn’t love the return of erstwhile Wolves legend Gerald Green? After not being in the rotation for much of the season in Boston, he was the break-glass-in-case-of-emergency answer in the Celtics first round series against the Bulls and wound up starting seven playoff games after zero starts in the regular season. There isn’t a ton there, but he can still get hot shooting it, and still has some of that jumpiness. He’s never been able to guard, however.
Speaking of which: Luke Babbitt. Have three, will travel. Shot over 40 percent from beyond the arc last season, but does nothing else. Will be employed in the NBA as long as he can shoot it.
K.J. McDaniels is a guy I always thought had NBA talent, but he hasn’t really caught on yet. He hasn’t been able to shoot from range, which really holds him back, and he isn’t a passer. But he isn’t the worst defender and does a decent job on the glass. Only 24 years old, there might still be a bit of upside there.
Who wouldn’t enjoy the return of Michael Beasley (other than Tom Thibodeau)? Beas might only be a power forward now, which limits his usefulness to the Wolves, but rain or shine, he still gets buckets.
Anthony Morrow: See Luke Babbitt comment.
Beno Udrih: A combo guard who is now 35, I’ve always had a soft spot for him. Not sure he helps anymore, but can fill an emergency role, make an occasional three, and bring some Slovenian swag to the team. There are worse options.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the two guys who were on the Wolves last season and remain free agents: Brandon Rush and Shabazz Muhammad. I doubt either will be back, but you could make a case for both of them. Mostly Muhammad, who has particular skills that can be effective, and is a lot younger than most of the guys on this list. I think both parties want to move on.
Nobody actually likes Matt Barnes, but the Wolves could use someone skilled in pissing off opponents. 37 years old. Probably still deserves a roster spot for what remains above average defense.
If you are concerned that Barnes is too young, Jason Terry is available. The 40 year old has played over 70 games in each of the last three seasons, and can still make threes. As third point guard/occasional bomber off the bench as a shooting guard, I actually would not object to Terry.
Aaron Brooks had his best season under Thibs in 2014-15 with the Bulls, but really isn’t much of a player. Still, as a third point guard...meh.
Frankly, there are probably guys just as good or better than many on this list who have not yet gotten their opportunity. They probably won’t with the Wolves either, as I expect them to focus on veterans like the ones above.
So...anyone ya like?