The optimist would say the Timberwolves have money to play with in free agency now that Andrei Kirilenko has opted out of the $10 million player option for the final year of his deal. That optimist might also add that the Wolves have the types of players in Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love that a potential free agent might be interested in joining up with -- not to mention a coach in Rick Adelman who is respected and runs a solid system. The optimist would say that the Wolves' draft of Shabazz Muhammad (who figures to be a small forward primarily) and Gorgui Dieng (a big man who can provide a defensive presence inside) will look better assuming the Wolves can re-sign Chase Budinger and Nikola Pekovic while using that remaining money on a solid, bona fide shooter at the 2-guard spot.


The pessimist, however, would note that Kirilenko was often the Wolves' best all-around player on the court last season after Love's injury, so while it is nice to have his cap space it will hurt to not have his defense and overall ability. The pessimist also might say potential free agents might be spooked a little by the notion that Love isn't in it for the long haul here and that Adelman, 67, might be done in a year or two as well. And the pessimist would say the Wolves' draft of Muhammad, in particular, will look pretty silly if he doesn't fit into the offense and they cannot get what they so desperately need in free agency -- that scoring, shooting, 2-guard. It will be even worse if Budinger signs with another team and they wind up with spare parts instead of solid options in replacing him and trying to add a shooter.

What it adds up to is this: a precarious position for the Wolves if they are to really improve next season. By at least leaving themselves open to question with their draft and not nabbing an available shooter (C.J. McCollum), they are betting on free agency (which hasn't historically been kind to this franchise). They also go into the market desperate, which means even if they do get someone they want, like J.J. Redick (who has started 54 career games), they might be overpaying for him and putting a dent in future flexibility. Translation: As important as the draft was, July is even more important now.

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