Day 3 of NBA Free Agency is officially upon us, and while the speed of our timelines has slowed down greatly, there’s still plenty of action yet to come before the league finally takes a quick breather in September. While most of the big name free agents have already come off the board, there are still dozens of intriguing names still available that, in the right circumstances, could make an impact next season.
Here’s what we’ve still got as 8:45am PST as it pertains to guards:
Best remaining free agents:— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) August 4, 2021
D. Smith Jr.
J. Hart (R)
H. Diallo (R)
T. Davis (R)
G. Mathews (R)
S. Mykhailiuk (R)
And here’s the list of leftovers for forwards/centers:
Best remaining free agents cont.:— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) August 4, 2021
H. Giles III
While writing this, one of the last major dominos did indeed fall, with John Collins finally agreeing to a contract extension with the Atlanta Hawks:
Restricted free agent F John Collins has agreed to a five-year, $125M deal to stay with the Atlanta Hawks, @excelbasketball agents Sean Kennedy and Jeff Schwartz tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 4, 2021
As you’ll remember from earlier this spring around the NBA Trade Deadline, the Minnesota Timberwolves were strongly linked to Collins, but after an impressive postseason run, it became increasingly unlikely that the Hawks would let Collins leave the ATL.
Despite what some people may think after seeing the team’s new minority owner doing jumping jacks on a yacht in Ibiza, the Timberwolves were never going to be serious contenders for Collins’ services because they have no money. As Dane Moore has pointed out multiple times, the Wolves currently have very few financial options outside of simply re-signing Jarred Vanderbilt and Jordan McLaughlin, which means any sort of tangible change is and always has been linked directly to trades.
Somehow the Lakers have only spent $20M more on 12 players than the Timberwolves have on 13.— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) August 3, 2021
Also: Every player on the Lakers other than Nunn and Monk are older than the oldest player on the Timberwolves, Jake Layman. Yes -- Anthony Davis is older than every Timberwolves player pic.twitter.com/e5XnvrxHFC
With Collins now off the board, the list of big men who could fill the glaring void at PF is... not great. Our good friend Doogie Wolfson reported earlier this week that the Wolves brass (who have smartly finessed their way into a free trip to Los Angeles for the week) did indeed meet with Jarred Vanderbilt and his representatives, but considering his RFA status, I’d be shocked if Minnesota was the first party to make a move here. Maybe V8 will get a late, lucrative offer that forces Minnesota’s hand one way or another, but for now I’d be shocked if we see any movement on this prior to the weekend.
“So Kyle, where does that leave us now as it relates to the PF position?”
Say no more!
“One team to keep an eye on in the sign-and-trade market for [Lauri] Markkanen is the Minnesota Timberwolves”— Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) August 1, 2021
Markkanen has defensive shortcomings, but his jumper would create space for KAT, Ant, and D’Lo to operate.
No such thing as too much shooting.https://t.co/C4ZJz5w71b pic.twitter.com/O9m5gb9YRu
Maybe it’s the coffee talking or maybe it’s the hangover from watching too many Nathan Knight highlights on YouTube, but I for one am super intrigued by what the Wolves could do with Lauri Markkanen.
As many of you remember, the Wolves originally drafted The Finnisher back in 2017 before immediately shipping him to Chicago in the Jimmy Butler deal. Markannen never quite blossomed in the Windy City, and he’s not the defensive specialist many of us have clamored for next to Karl-Anthony Towns, but something about his game gives me hope that he might be somewhat of a diamond in the rough who just needs a fresh start.
The problem here — like it was with Collins — is that according to multiple sources, Markkanen wants far more money than the Timberwolves can really offer. The Spurs were the strongest contenders for Markkanen’s services earlier in free agency, but have since made multiple additions to their front court, which leaves teams like Oklahoma City, Charlotte, and New Orleans as the only teams (I think) that have more than $10 million dollars left to possibly offer him.
Spending power remaining around the NBA:— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) August 4, 2021
ATL- $5.9M of NTMLE
BOS- $5.9M Tax MLE
CHA- $13.5M (pending I. Smith signing)
CHI- $9.5M MLE (pending S&Ts and TPEs)
CLE- $9.5M MLE
DAL- $3.7M BAE
DEN- $4.5M of NTMLE
DET- $4.9M Room Exception (pending FA signings)
Much like Dennis Schroder, the market simply has not fallen in Markkanen’s favor, and it’s quite possible that his agent overplayed his hand leading up to the start of free agency. As Keith Smith points out in the thread above, the cupboards are quickly becoming bare around the league, which might (maybe? possibly? hopefully?) give a team like Minnesota a little boost of leverage to offer not only the full non-tax MLE ($9.5 million), but also assurances on things like a starting job and the ability to decide include player options so he can once again enter free agency whenever he wants.
As Day 3 rolls on, it’ll be interesting to see what names come off the board next — Paul Millsap? Danny Green? Kelly Oubre, Jr.? Regardless, the Wolves clearly have moves to make, because under no circumstances whatsoever can this front office simply “run it back” for the 2021-22 season, unless of course they are cool with decreased job security. No one has less patience in life than me, but for now it looks like Wolves fans (myself included) will have to bide their time a little more before we get a better understanding of the offseason strategy.