And away we go!
Minnesota withdrew qualifying offer on Nemanja Bjelica, who will become an unrestricted free agent, league source tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 2, 2018
The news of Belly becoming an unrestricted free agent signaled that the Wolves had another card up their sleeve, and minutes later they finally did some giving:
Free agent forward Anthony Tolliver is nearing a one-year deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves, league sources tell Yahoo.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 2, 2018
As is usually the case in free agency, it’s the financial numbers that matter just as much (if not more) than the player itself. With that said, it appears Tolliver’s one-year deal with the Wolves will utilize a good chunk of their current Mid-Level Exception:
Sources: Tolliver's one-year deal will be in $5-to-$6M range to sign with Minnesota. https://t.co/LvKMOobo8F— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 2, 2018
This news brings a plethora of emotions and feelings, most of which are positive. The downside here is clearly the inevitable loss of Nemanja Bjelica, who became somewhat of a fan favorite during his three seasons in Minnesota.
Originally selected 35th in the 2010 NBA Draft by the Washington Wizards, Belly didn’t join the NBA until 2015 when he signed with the Wolves. Despite possessing the offensive skills to be a prototypical stretch-four in the modern NBA, he never found solid traction on the Wolves due to various reasons (injuries, roster construction, coaching preferences, foul trouble, his constant hesitation to let it fly from deep, etc.). A combo of Belly/Towns at the 4/5 always seemed like a match made in heaven, but in the end we didn’t see it all that much.
Still, it always felt like there was much more to get out of Belly and he will be missed.
On the flip side, the Wolves will be bringing in a former Wolf who truly needs no introduction:
Anthony Tolliver is coming off his best season at age 32. He’s played in Minnesota before (2010-12). He can shoot (37.6% career from deep—43.6% this past season). He’s versatile and one of the best charge takers in the league. He’s a great teammate and we’ll always have this... pic.twitter.com/QnZ4DXOzuD— John Meyer (@thedailywolf) July 2, 2018
As my good friend John Meyer points out, in addition to once again being able to use this fantastic GIF, the Tolliver acquisition will bring much needed energy, defense, and three-point shooting to a team that lacks all of the above. Additionally, Tolliver has been touted as a fantastic locker room presence and fantastic teammate, two things that successful franchises can never have enough of.
If the Tolliver numbers reported by Shams are accurate, that means the Wolves will use most of the MLE on him, which (possibly) leaves a small remainder to lock up Keita Bates-Diop to multi-year deal. It’s not sexy, but an offseason of Tolliver, Rose, Okogie, KBD, and another player on the minimum will likely be the highlights of the 2018 summer for the Wolves. Now it’s up to Thibs to get all these new pieces to fit together.