Minnesota Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly is bringing in another familiar guard from his time with the Denver Nuggets.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Saturday morning that PJ Dozier is set to sign with the Wolves, joining ex-teammates Austin Rivers and Bryn Forbes as former Nuggets guards that have followed Connelly to Minnesota.
In his last fully healthy season (2020-21), Dozier enjoyed the best season of his five-year career, during which he turned averages of 7.7 points on 41.7/31.5/63.6 shooting splits, 3.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.0 stocks in 21.8 minutes per game across 50 contests.
Dozier is set to sign an Exhibit 10 contract according to our friend Darren Wolfson of KSTP,
Solid get on PJ Dozier for #Timberwolves on Exhibit 10 contract. Another reminder: There are more NBA players than standard deals available. I recall Jokic after Den. lost in playoffs citing how much PJ was missed. Had left ACL reconstruction early Dec. pic.twitter.com/vogOYadabD— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) September 17, 2022
As a reminder, by signing Dozier to Exhibit 10 contract, Connelly and Co. have a few options:
- Convert the deal to a standard NBA contract if there is a roster spot available after training camp
- Convert the deal to a two-way contract if they waive one of the two players currently signed to a two-way deal, AJ Lawson or Eric Paschall
- Waive him prior to the start of the regular season and retain him on the Iowa Wolves
While option No. 1 seems unlikely at this point, it is worth nothing that Naz Reid, Jaylen Nowell, Nathan Knight and Rivers all have non-fully-guaranteed contracts for this upcoming season, so any of them could be waived with limited-to-no financial repercussions.
Connelly is evidently focused on creating a highly competitive training camp and preseason both with rotational bigs (Reid, Knight and Luka Garza) and now at the guard spot (Nowell, Rivers, Dozier, Forbes, and Lawson). Whomever comes out not just with a roster spot (or a two-way deal), but a spot in the rotation, will certainly have earned the time they see on the floor.
Here’s a look at the Wolves roster cap sheet with the addition of Dozier:
Dozier tore his ACL in December of 2021 before Connelly traded him to the Boston Celtics along with big man Bol Bol as part of a three-team deal that landed Forbes in Denver. The Celtics turned around and traded Dozier and Bol to the Orlando Magic in a deadline day move to acquire a 2023 second-round pick. Dozier, was waived that day by the Magic and has remained a free agent since.
Now fully healthy, Dozier will look to make a Timberwolves roster that lacks explosive athleticism at the guard spot outside of Anthony Edwards and could use his 6-foot-6, 205-pound frame and seven-foot wingspan defensively on the wing. Dozier is capable of getting downhill quickly off the bounce and playing above the rim, too, making him a nice change of pace option as a secondary ball-handler.
While he doesn’t bring the same level of shooting that Nowell, Forbes or Rivers will bring to Minnesota, his defensive competitiveness, ability to push the pace in transition and cut off the ball are all headlining skills that he could use to carve a niche with the Wolves.
The Nuggets — and back-to-back NBA MVP Nikola Jokić — missed those supplementary skills in the playoffs, where they lost to the eventual champion Golden State Warriors in the first round.
“We cannot think, Oh, this guy is going to come back, this guy is going to come back. People forget we lost PJ. PJ was injured. I think he was a big part of our basketball. The guy who is six-foot, I don’t know, seven, eight, nine, ten, whatever. He’s big. He can handle the ball, guard multiple positions. He knows our system. I think we miss him,” the MVP said following Denver’s Game 5, series-ending loss to Golden State. “Yes, it’s Mike and Jamal the most, but PJ, I think we missed him a lot in that stretch.”
(video via House of Highlights YouTube)
If the MVP — one of the game’s smartest players — believes in what you bring to the team, chances are you’re a pretty good basketball player.
We’ll see if Dozier makes the Wolves’ final roster, but it’s encouraging to see so many proven role players sign on to compete in Minnesota’s training camp, which is shaping up to be full of storylines to follow throughout the preseason.