With training camp opening in just under a month, teams across the NBA are beginning to put the finishing touches on their rosters. For the Minnesota Timberwolves, it seems they are still looking to make another point guard signing to finalize their 2023-24 squad.
Last season, the lack of depth at point guard was a clear weakness for the Wolves. Jordan McLaughlin wasn’t able to provide Minnesota with the high impact we have come to expect due to various injuries that prevented him from playing more than 43 total games. When McLaughlin was healthy, his offense was lackluster and inconsistent. The same can be said for Jaylen Nowell. Furthermore, when Nowell wasn’t providing spark plug offense, he became a negative player on the court due to his sub-par defense.
The good news is that Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly and his staff brought in some solid rotational pieces in Shake Milton and Troy Brown Jr. However, Minnesota still lacks a true floor general off the bench. Sure, McLaughlin, Milton, and Kyle Anderson will be asked to command the offense at different points in time, but adding another veteran guard would be a very positive thing for the Wolves.
Friday morning, during his Social Media Minute with SKOR North, our friend Darren Wolfson reported on the Timberwolves’ activity regarding recent free agents — all of whom happen to be backup veteran point guards.
The Wolves are kicking the tires, at least internally, on to me, the best free agent point guard available, Cameron Payne. But as of Friday morning, they have not extended him an offer. The Wolves had a couple point guards in for free-agent workouts, going back a few weeks. One being Elfrid Payton, the other being Kennedy Chandler. No offers extended to eithe
Of the players Doogie mentioned, the most intriguing to me is Cam Payne. The 29-year-old, 6-foot-1 guard has spent his last four seasons with the Phoenix Suns. During his time in the Valley, Payne carved out a crucial role complementing Suns starting point guard Chris Paul. He provided his team with some stellar floor spacing while also possessing the ability to run the offense and generate his own offense. During Phoenix’s run to the 2020 NBA Finals, Payne was arguably the Suns’ most crucial player off the bench.
This summer, the Suns ultimately parted ways with Payne as they shipped him off, along with a second-round pick and cash considerations, to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for a second-rounder of their own. With Phoenix bringing in Bradley Beal this off-season, they needed to free up some cap space, so moving Payne seemed like a financial decision.
Since then, the veteran guard was waived from the Spurs and is now an unrestricted free agent.
Payne is one of those players that every contending team would love to have on their team. This season would have been Payne’s final year of his three-year, $19 million contract he signed with the Suns, had he not been waived. Wherever he ends up, it’s hard to see him taking that much of a pay cut after averaging 10.8 points and 4.5 assists on 37% from three and 42% from the floor last year. It may boil down to Minnesota not having enough cap space to make a deal work.
The other two players that Doogie mentioned, Elfrid Payton and Kennedy Chandler, seem much more likely to be signed. Of course, the Timberwolves haven’t offered either of them a contract, so who knows how their workouts with the team went.
All in all, it seems Minnesota is still searching for backup point guard depth. And for a team that didn’t receive consistent output from their guards off the bench last season, adding another floor general component off the bench can’t be a negative thing.