[UPDATE: 7/2] Timberwolves Running Offseason Tracker

7/2/2016

[9:30am CST]

The news doesn’t sleep. The big news this morning is Luol Deng has agreed to sign with the Lakers on a deal worth $72M over four years.

Deng, in my opinion, was the most coveted free agent for the Timberwolves and probably the biggest impact player in terms of need and helping the Timberwolves make a playoff push this next season. Losing him may send the Wolves into a panic quite frankly. It may mean that a trade will fill the power forward position. Luckily there are other free agents but many are back-up level power forwards and don’t have the versatility that Deng has.

The craziest part about this Deng signing is the bar it naturally set for free agents. Deng, passed his prime and not the player he once was, just pulled in $18M for the max amount of years you can sign with a team that wasn’t your former. This changes what players can expect to sign, especially older players, when signing with anyone. Pau Gasol, the Wolves’ next target, can point to the contract Deng got with a rebuilding Laker team, and say he wants something in that realm.

The Wolves were smart to avoid giving Deng four years. Even three-years would’ve been a stretch. The Timberwolves are in a position that anyone over two years has to be considered a solid part of the future here. The reason being is that the Wolves will need to extend players like Wiggins and LaVine. The Wolves have learned from the Thunder/ James Harden scenario that you can’t give up that easily on young players. You need to be prepared to extend them.

Gasol is the only player that the Wolves have left on the board that is still a quality starter at the power forward position. His defense lacks and would require the ball a lot to be effective unfortunately, but could absolutely help the Wolves make a playoff push.

I still haven’t heard anything around Moe Harkless. He is more of a gamble, but if he is capable of starting at power forward, he is the only player I would be willing to give a third, even a fourth year to. My hope is that he isn’t looking to get Deng money. My impression before the Deng deal is that Harkless would expect more than Deng simply due to his potential. He has a three-pointer that used to exist and still an unproven commodity.

More to come nonetheless.

7/1/2016

[8:00pm CST]

Man a lot has happened in the last 8 hours. Here is what is happening on the Wolves front:

So the Wolves are clearly interested in a shooting guard. Courtney Lee would be among the top candidates for the Wolves to sign. The Wolves also were in contact with Anthony Tolliver and Kris Humphries, both with their own ties to Minnesota previously. They would be bench players for the most part.

Around the League?

Two guys off the list: Solomon Hill to the Pelicans. Mirza Teletovic to the Bucks. Crossing off the list.

Mike Conley received the largest contract in NBA history, getting the full max for five-years. He has never been an all-star. He heads back to Memphis. He will team up with Chandler Parsons, who has agreed to sign with Memphis. It is interesting because Memphis is looking like a playoff team and the Mavs are looking to hit the lottery. Those are important things to note as the Wolves make a playoff push.

Dwight Howard went to the Hawks on a three-year deal worth $70.5M. Not sure what they are doing there but chances are, Al Horford will head elsewhere.

The Blazers overpaid for Evan Turner. The Blazers are making a serious push to be in the playoffs again. With Turner going to Portland, I would imagine Harkless or Crabbe become more available in restricted free agency.

A quiet signing was Jeff Green going to Orlando on a one-year deal. They are looking to make a playoff push in the East now.

That is a lot of info. Will let it digest. Please share!

[12:30pm CST]

Lots of developments in the last hour. On the Wolves front, they are showing interest in Kent Bazemore. May be pricy for his position and how he would fit with the Wolves though.

In news around the NBA. Al Jefferson has signed with Pacers on a three-year deal. Jefferson is a former Timberwolves franchise-centerpiece and the beginning of the rebuilding in MN. Also, free agent O.J. Mayo has been suspended by the NBA for two years for their substance-abuse policy. Mayo could’ve got a solid contract this summer. Instead, he is going to be without a paycheck for two years. This is why you don’t do drugs kids. He just lost a ton of money.

[9:00am CST]

Looking like Whiteside is heading back to Miami to kick it with DJ Khaled. The Pistons also got their backup point guard in Ish Smith, signing him to a three-year deal.

[8:30am CST]

Free agency is officially underway. When Woj went to bed at 1am, it made sense that the rest of us do the same.

On the Timberwolves front, Tom Thibodeau has reached out to Luol Deng and they should talk today or tomorrow. There are many other teams interested in Deng. Teams interested are Miami, Utah, Boston, and Washington. I feel that the Wolves have a decent chance of landing Deng since Minnesota seems like a better situation than the others.

According to Doogie Wolfson, the Wolves have not shown interest in Demar Derozan (who is heading back to Toronto anyway), Al Horford, or Jamal Crawford. All of this is expected I think. There are mentorship ties between Horford and Towns as well as with Crawford and LaVine.

Around the league, the Lakers struck first in agreeing to terms with Timofey Mozgov and re-sign Jordan Clarkson. They dished out a ton of money to do that.

DJ Augustin, who the Wolves had interest in is headed to the Magic it looks like. He will be struck off the list.

Nicolas Batum signed a max deal with the Hornets for 5-years. He will come off the list. I didn’t expect him to be a target for the Wolves, but the Hornets are going to attempt to retain Courtney Lee and Marvin Williams still.

Eric Gordon seems to be highly coveted by the Knicks. They will likely throw a ton of money at him. Something to watch there.

There are rumblings that the Nets will look to pursue Ryan Anderson. That would make me happy.

The Spurs have interest in Mirza Teletovic. That should indicate that the Wolves should really go after him then.

As for Hassan Whiteside, it looks like Miami is back in the running for him. So will see what happens there.

 

6/31/2016

[11:00pm CST]

It’s go-time!!

Rumblings of the Wolves around Luol Deng and Pau Gasol. Wolves will likely contact them at midnight tonight.

Whiteside sounds like heading to Dallas and KD back to OKC. More info soon.

[7:00pm CST]

For what it’s worth, looks like KG and Thibs spoke.

[2:30pm CST]

Latest on big free agents. Hassan Whiteside will decide between the Mavs and Heat. Noah is reportedly planning to sign with the Knicks for $18M.

On the Wolves front, looks like Timberwolves have interest in forward Lance Thomas from the Knicks. Would be a great signing.

There are lots of teams swirling everywhere around difference players. Cool resource here though to see players’ max contracts. https://public.tableau.com/profile/sraanalytics#!/vizhome/NBAFreeAgency/NBAFreeAgency

[11.04am CST]

First update! Adding Brandon Bass to the list of players to watch below. Thanks Doogie!

[11:00am CST]

Timberwolves fandom,

12 hours from the start of free agency! This will be your one stop-shop for everything offseason for your Minnesota Timberwolves. We are going to take a fivethirtyeight approach to the offseason this summer and keep updates in one posts. This will to not clutter your inbox but also a place you know you can go to get the latest-and-greatest on what is happening with the Timberwolves. Please follow our blog and then on social media (@timberrebuilder ) on twitter/ facebook/ Instagram. Our managing editor, Sherief, also has a personal twitter now that you can follow @SheriefNBA.

How this will work is we will continue to update this specific post, keeping the most relevant information at the top. Each day, you can come visit our page and this specific post and see what is happening with players around the league, specifically those of interest for the Timberwolves. Players we will keep track of will be based first on our post initially on Timberwolves free agency. We will then track other big free agents, since they really form the market. We will also follow other players that have said to be of interest for the Wolves by other sources. There are a few players that have overlap with what is reported as ‘having steam’ and that we see as good fits. Below is a running list of players:

Kevin Durant

Lebron James

Hassan Whiteside

Al Horford

Mike Conley

Luol Deng

Joakim Noah

Courtney Lee

Marvin Williams

Nicolas Batum

Ryan Anderson

Chandler Parsons

Moe Harkless

Mirza Teletovic

Terrance Jones

Eric Gordon

Solomon Hill

Derrick Williams

Jamal Crawford

James Ennis

DJ Augustin

Randy Foye

Kris Humphries

Brandon Bass

Damjan Rudez

Tayshaun Prince

Then we will follow any trade rumors that involve the Timberwolves and those that could be NBA landscape changing. We will add quick personal thoughts here instead of starting new posts for every rumor.

Finally, there is something called summer league that is happening! After the draft, the summer league is one of the most exciting things in the offseason.

Please follow and share. Will continue to make updates as developments happen over the summer!

The Timber Rebuilder.

 

 

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Oh What a Series!

While not Timberwolves related – the Western Conference finals was epic. There is a slew of information and analysis on it so will not bore you with that, but just wanted to walk through how crazy of a series this was between the Thunder and Warriors.

It is no secret I was personally cheering for the Thunder. The Thunder have been a favorite for a while. I have always appreciated Kevin Durant and his humbleness. I even had the chance to meet him and sit down and chat with him. He was the most down-to-earth athlete I ever met. Russell Westbrook is a freak and a joy to watch. Serge Ibaka is a guy I would love to play for the Wolves, especially if we can trade the 5th pick for him (dreaming). Randy Foye was one of my all-time favorite Timberwolves. I always felt Steven Adams would be an amazing center in the league. Heck, I was one of the few that had hope Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones would become great NBA players. So I’ve been following for a while.

The Warriors have always been a team that you have to watch. They are history in the making. As an avid basketball fan, they are impossible to ignore, even hate. But what I dislike is how much they brag. They is no need to showoff after every made bucket, unless you’re Mo Speights hitting a three in Game 7 in the Western Conference finals. What I do respect is how they’ve played with all the pressure on them. They have played the second half of the season as their biggest opponent. They even dropped a game to the Timberwolves as home.  To see how they’ve reacted to the pressure of winning 73 games and having the first unanimous MVP has been so fun to watch. Nothing but appreciation for this team.

Jumping to the series, it was like a classic fictional tale about what the NBA could be. Or a Hollywood film directed by Michael Bay. This series was literally a roller coaster. Quick summaries below. Home team is the second team listed each time.

Game 1: Thunder 108, Warriors 102

The Thunder steal game 1! The Warriors lose a game at home, many believed because they finally faced a worthy opponent. It should’ve been the wake up call the Warriors needed. The Thunder were still not a serious threat. But Russell Westbrook and Durant played amazingly. Westbrook racked up 7 steals along with 27 points and 12 assists. KD added 26 points himself with 10 boards. Curry shot terribly with 9/22 from the field for 26 points. That won’t happen every game.

Game 2: Thunder 91, Warriors 118

This is what we expected for most of the series. Stephen Curry with a casual 28 points on 15 shots. How anyone does that is news to me. Not the closest of games so a fairly spread box score. Series is tied 1-1. The Warriors woke up finally. This should go 6 for the Warriors right?

Game 3: Warriors 105, Thunder 133

In Oklahoma where the Thunder dominate. It wasn’t close. The Thunder dominated in the second quarter and it was both offensively and defensively. The Thunder were never very adequate defensively but somehow they emerged with the Mega-death lineup that had Ibaka at the 5 and Durant at the 4. Durant was a defensive juggernaut using his length to slow down the Warriors’ guards. He had 33 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Russell Westbrook added 30 himself with 12 assists. The Warriors got nothing outside of Thompson and Curry. Even then, the splash brothers combined for 5 total threes. Not their best game. Somehow the Thunder are up 2-1. The next game is pivotal.

Game 4: Warriors 94, Thunder 118

Where the drama begins. The Thunder just have an amazing team effort. Roberson scored a career-high 17 points with 12 rebounds and 5 steals. Ibaka had 17 points as well. To add insult to injury, Westbrook chimed in with a casual triple-double with 36 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. The Thunder’s team defense began to look like one of the best in the league. It was a complete team effort for the Thunder that game them a comfortable lead in the series of 3-1. The Warriors for the first time in two years would face elimination in the playoffs. It seemed that the show was over.

Game 5: Thunder 111, Warriors 120

‘We ain’t going home’ from Steph Curry. The Warriors facing elimination at home. If there was a game that the Warriors should win it was this one. It was close but the Thunder were never able to catch up. The Warriors withstood 40 points from Durant and 31 from Westbrook. The Thunder went for the kill to not avail. Steph had 31 and Thompson added 27. The difference was the rest of the Warriors who came to play. The series would be 3-2 and go back to OKC.

Game 6: Warriors 108, Thunder 101

This was a game! The Thunder were up a good amount of the game. It came down to the last two minutes where the Warriors just took the lead and snuck out. It almost felt certain that the Thunder had this one in the bag. But Klay Thompson set an NBA Playoffs single-game record for threes made with 11. He had a huge 41 points ahead of Curry’s 31. This game was the turning point. With the series at 3-3, Game 7 would be one for the ages.

Game 7: Thunder 88, Warriors 96

A historic game 7. The Warriors became the 10th team to come back from being down 1-3 in the playoffs, which seemed like a cherry on top for what they’ve accomplished this season. The Thunder played a great 1st half holding the Warriors to their 2nd lowest point total of the season. But the second half the unanimous MVP stepped up and stole the show The Thunder didn’t have an answer for him. While the Thunder came back to within 4 points in the final quarter, they just seemed to give up. Roberson gave up a wide open three pointer and then they seemed to quick in the final minute of the game. It was incredible to see Curry score his 36 points in a multitude of ways. The Warriors are headed to the finals to defend their championship.

At some point this summer when baseball is all that is happening, there is a good chance I rewatching this entire series back-to-back. It was that good. The Warriors earned their stripes. And now all the speculation begins around where Kevin Durant may land this summer…

 

The Thunder probably did the Warriors a favor. They woke the giant that the Warriors were went they went on their historic run earlier in the season. The Warriors were coasting late in the season chasing the 72-win record, which I repeatedly said would be a huge mistake. That mistake may’ve costed them the season had they lost in game 5, 6, or 7. But somehow they held on and added to an even more dramatic and historic run.

The finals will be a lot of fun to watch. A healthy Cavs team with a hungry Lebron James get a second shot at a title against the Warriors. LBJ has been quietly making history by going to the finals 6 straight seasons. It will be interesting to see how Kevin Love matches up in this series. Not because he is the man we love to hate in Minnesota but because he will be the easiest of the big three to eliminate from being relevant on the floor due to his defensive woes.

See you all in the finals!