It’s another SBN NBA Theme Day! This time it’s about free agency, and what fans want and don’t want for their teams. You can surf around to all the SBN NBA sites to see what different fan bases are looking forward to.
Unfortunately, the Wolves are unlikely to be very active in free agency, simply because they lack cap space, and depending on a couple of factors will be pushing against the luxury tax line merely by using the Mid-Level Exception.
The Wolves still need help on the wing and at power forward, particularly with players who can stretch the floor with three point shooting. Given their lack of resources, the answer might be to re-sign their own restricted free agent, Nemanja Bjelica. Bjelica played both small and power forward for the Wolves this past season, but as usual with Tom Thibodeau, his minutes were up and down. He started 21 games, mostly at small forward in place of the injured Jimmy Butler. As a result, he was part of the second most used five man lineup for the Wolves, along with the other four starters. That group was a net +5.8 per 100 possessions. He averaged over 34 minutes per game as a starter.
In his appearances off the bench, however, he got only 14 minutes per game, and it was difficult for him to make an impact, though he was a very good three point shooter (over 41 percent) in both roles.
I am a fan of Bjelica, and think he can really help in a consistent role. Given their dearth of options, bringing him, or someone with a similar skill set, is vital for the Wolves in free agency.
What will make much of the fan base unhappy is something that is likely to happen: The re-signing of Derrick Rose, who was brought in late last season. Ignoring anything else, he brings nothing to the roster at this point. He really has not been a good player in several years, and doesn’t do anything the Wolves need. With Jeff Teague and a developing Tyus Jones, they aren’t in need of another point guard. For most of his minutes with the Wolves, he was essentially playing off the ball. The problems with that are despite his bizarre hot streak in the playoffs, he’s not a good enough shooter, and the defense struggles with him on the floor with another point guard. He’s a frustrating safety blanket for Tom Thibodeau who, if brought back, will take minutes from younger and better players.
Overall I’m expecting a mixed bag. I would be very surprised if Rose is not brought back, which will be very disappointing. I don’t know how far they will go in terms of matching another offer for Bjelica, but I’m hopeful that they bring him back or find someone who can stretch the floor for them.
They remain in need of shooting on the wing and a stretch four, but given their limited resources, real improvement in free agency will be difficult to achieve.