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Weekend Cup: Free Agents in Limbo

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Several former Wolves still looking for work.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

As we head into late August and only one month left before training camps start, a lot of players around the league remain unsigned.

Some potential news about a former Wolf: Adriean Payne is said to be close to agreeing to a two-way deal with the Orlando Magic. This is one of the new contracts that allow Payne to be either with the parent club (for a maximum amount of days) and get paid a full NBA salary, or in the G-League. Only players with three or fewer years of NBA experience are eligible for these contracts, so Payne just qualifies.

It’s about the best he could hope for, at least stateside, (Payne apparently turned down an offer from China.) Payne has obviously been a disappointment after being drafted in the first round by the Atlanta Hawks. They were able to extract a first round pick (still to be conveyed) from the Wolves midway through his rookie year, in what was the worst personnel move of the Flip Saunders era.

We wish Payne luck with the Magic presuming this deal is consummated.

Brandon Rush remains unsigned, with Darren Wolfson suggesting that the Heat and Pacers have some interest. I still expect him to catch on somewhere with a guaranteed veteran’s minimum deal. He was barely used during the first half of the season, but took over as the starting shooting guard for the Wolves following Zach LaVine’s injury. He wasn’t great, but he was serviceable. He knows what he’s doing. Frankly I would not have been averse to a Wolves return, but that does not appear in the cards.

And of course, as we wrote about earlier in the week, Shabazz Muhammad remains available, and new Wolf Jamal Crawford tweeted encouraging a return. I’m sure Muhammad was, and perhaps still is, hoping for something more than the minimum deal the Wolves could offer, but it might not be in the cards. This is no doubt disappointing to him after he turned down a reported 4 year, $40M extension last summer.

This is an interesting situation. It seems tough to me to take a minimum deal—a pay cut—with your current team. I would have bet that if he wound up with a minimum, it would be elsewhere. I still think that’s more likely, especially having experienced how Thibs (doesn’t) use his bench. With Andrew Wiggins and Jimmy Butler in place, and Crawford as the new, presumed 6th man, how much playing time will there be for Muhammad? Someone will get hurt, but does he want to wait around for that? Is there somewhere his place in the rotation is more assured?

Reminder: Eurobasket begins on August 31st. We’ll have more on the schedule as we get closer. With Ricky Rubio (sob) no longer on the Wolves, and Nemanja Bjelica not playing for Serbia due to his injury, the Wolves have no representatives in this tournament. Afrobasket begins early in September, where Gorgui Dieng will be suiting up for Senegal.

In football news: Christian Freaking Pulisic! Scored Dortmund’s first goal of the Bundesliga season today, assisted on another, and went 86 minutes in their opener. I guess the new gaffer rates him.

Have a great Saturday.