Wolves’ free agency options
NBA’s summer free-agency period begins at 11 p.m. Saturday Central time. Here’s some things to watch before and after:
High priority: Expect signing free-agent guard Derrick Rose, who joined the Wolves in early March through the end of last season, to be high on the team’s to-do list: “Everybody is important,” Wolves coach/president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau said. “We like the way he fit in. He’s a free agent, so he’s going to have options also. We felt that he played really well in the playoffs and that’s sort of been his history.”
Cap-pressed: The Wolves likely will only have cap room to sign free agents to the $8.6 million mid-level exception — and they might have only $5.4 million of that because of cap restrictions — and a $3.4 million exception. Asked if his team could bring back Rose and restricted free agent Nemanja Bjelica with their cap space and not bring in any other free agents, Thibodeau said, “It is a possibility. So we have the option to do that. They also have options. Obviously, we like both guys, so I think that’s important.”
To be or not to be: The Wolves extended Bjelica a qualifying offer approaching $5 million, making him a restricted free agent. At least two teams with money to spend this summer scouted Bjelica multiple times late last season, and he could receive an offer too rich for the Wolves to match. “Obviously, you know how we feel about him,” Thibodeau said. “We feel very strongly about him.”
Every (million) dollar counts: The Wolves can save themselves nearly $5 million to use elsewhere if they bought out backup center Cole Aldrich’s $6.9 million contract for this coming season with a $2 million payment by Saturday. Or they could include his contract in a trade by then. “We obviously like Cole a lot,” Thibodeau said. “He’s a player under contract, so we’re not going to talk about that at this time.”
Clock’s ticking: The Wolves dealt away point guard Ricky Rubio in the final hours before last summer’s free agency started and cleared cap room to sign Jeff Teague. Is another such trade in the works, perhaps involving Gorgui Dieng’s big contract? Don’t count on it. “You’re always thinking every day, ‘How can we get better?’ ” Thibodeau said.