Off-Season To-Do List for the Minnesota Timberwolves
The NBA Finals are over, the NBA draft is over, all that is left is arguably the best Free Agency in all of sports, starts July 1.
The Timberwolves, with roughly $19 million in cap space, a great young core of Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Kris Dunn, and Zach LaVine, and a top five coach in Tom Thibadeau, set themselves up to be a mid-level player in this year's free agency period.
So what needs to happen in order for this offseason to be successful? Here is the to-do list for a successful offseason.
1. Don't pull a David Kahn in the draft
The first item on this to-do is checked as the Wolves made a smart and safe choice in Kris Dunn for their 5th overall pick. Although he doesn't possess the upside of a Marquess Chriss, Dunn gives the Woles a high basketball IQ point guard who will thrive under Tom Thibadeau and gives the Wolves a player who will at the very least be a great defender but at most could be a Kyle Lowry-type player, who will be able to be a great third option behind Wiggins and Towns.
2. Trade Ricky Rubio
I know that Coach Thibs stated that Rubio and Dunn can play together, I would assume then that LaVine would be off the bench, but if I were Thibs I would use Rubio to find a center to play next to Towns.
Towns is versatile enough where any type of center can fit next to him because defensively he can be your rim protector, but if I were Thibs I would be focusing my efforts on trading with the Sacramento Kings. If Thibs were able to get Koufus or Cauley-Stein out of the Kings for Rubio, even for young wing Ben McLemore would give the Wolves a more well-rounded team.
My best case scenario would be getting Cauley-Stein, though I would think he would not be tradable but the Kings just drafted two more centers so as KG said in Boston, anything is possible.
In Cauley-Stein Thibs would get an EXTREMELY athletic center to mold in the way he molded Joakim, and would give the Wolves, a big lineup with the ability to switch on the pick and roll. It also helps, that the learning curve for Towns and Cauley-Stein sharing the paint would be much shorter with their experiences together at Kentucky.
3. Sign a 3 and D wing to play next to Wiggins
This is the the most important aspect of this offseason. The Wolves have a very talented core, but also a very young one. They have a makings of a good bench unit anchored by sixth man/scorer LaVine, Gorgui Dieng, and Shabazz Muhammed but none of those guys, minus LaVine, should ever be playing 35 minutes a game.
Who can the Wolves go after though? Due to their standing as an up and coming team but not a true contender just yet, I would say that top dogs are out of the question. Some interesting names could be Nic Batum or Chandler Parsons, but I think they will be wanting a team closer to the title.
Some guys I like for the Wolves would start with Kent Bazemore. In Bazemore they would get someone who plays hard, Thibs loves that, has good size at the two guard, knows his role on a team, and thrives as a fourth option by hitting open jumpers and making smart cuts to the basket. An added bonus is that he has playoff experience and fits as a four year vet at only 26 years old. However with Bazemore, he would come with the highest price tag at at least $15 million per year if not more, thus limiting the following moves for the Wolves.
Other options could be Courtney Lee, Luol Deng, or Gerald Henderson. None would provide the impact of Bazemore but all are smart basketball players who know how to play defense.
4. Sign a fourth big, and trade Nikola Pekovic
If the Wolves are able to trade for Cauley-Stein or Koufus that adjusts who the Wolves could look at as a fourth big. Without either I would look at Bismack Biyombo as someone that would fit next to Towns as a rebounder and shot-blocker, if Bazemore isn't signed. Another option that has been rumored is having a reunion with Thibs for Joakim Noah. As a bench player I would love that deal as he is a veteran presence to help mentor Towns on D with Kevin Garnett who is still under contract for one more season. However, a negative with Noah is that he is seemingly injured every year and it has been reported that the Knicks will be a hard pursuant of Noah. Another option could be taking a flyer on Spurs center Boban Marjanovic. Despite not playing much last season, Marjanovic looks like he has the potential to be a good center in todays NBA.
At the four, Luis Scola could fit, as would Mirza Teletovic with their price tag being much lower than the names mentioned prior to this.
A second part of this would be trading Pekovic for whatever you can get for him. He hasn't been able to stay healthy for two seasons, and due to this his trade value is in the toilet. With an abundance of cap space all across the NBA, if the Wolves were able to deal him somewhere it not only would open up more room for the Wolves to maneuver but also help them to get younger. The chance of this however are slim as he is owed $23.7 million over the next two seasons.
5. Find a backup point guard
By fulfilling number 2 on the to-do list by trading Rubio, it opens up a need for a backup point guard. With Dunn being a young player, a veteran behind him would be ideal to mentor him along and showing him how to be an NBA point guard.
Chicago fans know what Thibs is able to do with back-up point guards, so grabbing a player like Raymond Felton or Mario Chalmers would be a big win for the Wolves, but even having another reunion by grabbing DJ Augustin would be a solid move for the Wolves to make and also would fit in terms of a low salary.
If the Wolves are able to hit ideals in this situation, with Bazemore as the big free agent signing the rotation would be as follows:
PG: Kris Dunn, Raymond Felton, Tyus Jones
SG: Kent Bazemore, Zach LaVine
SF: Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammed
PF: Karl-Anthony Towns, Mirza Teletovic, Kevin Garnett
C: Willie Cauley-Stein, Gorgui Dieng, Nikola Pekovic
With this team they would have a great young core with versatility and with Thibs coaching them he will be able to get the defensive potential fulfilled out of all of them, the question will be how does the offense work but with the scoring ability of Towns, Wiggins, and LaVine, not to mention Dunn and potentially Bazemore will be able to provide the skeleton needed for an above-average offense.