Stiemsma agrees to offer as Wolves continue casting for free agents

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 22, 2012 - 12:00 AM

His agent said the Celtics are unlikely to match the Wolves' offer for the former Wisconsin center, who will back up Nikola Pekovic.

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Greg Stiemsma, left

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Restricted free-agent center Greg Stiemsma was born, raised and educated in Wisconsin, but he still considers the contract agreement he reached Saturday with the Timberwolves a homecoming.

Never mind the border issues.

"There's still reciprocity, isn't there?" asked Stiemsma's agent, Mike Naiditch.

The Wolves signed Stiemsma to his first NBA contract in April 2010, even though he never played in a regular-season game for them.

When the Celtics played at Target Center in March, the evening was something of a home game for him after more than 100 friends and family from Wisconsin and South Dakota -- where he had played for the Development League's Skyforce -- attended and serenaded him afterward with a Britney Spears song he once was forced to sing on a Boston radio station.

Naiditch said "Minnesota is always where Greg wanted to be," both because of his history with the franchise and because the team called at 11:01 p.m. on July 1, one minute into the NBA's free-agency period.

The Wolves also need a backup center to starter Nikola Pekovic after waiving Darko Milicic last week to clear salary-cap room.

The 26-year-old Stiemsma, who played for the University of Wisconsin from 2004 to '08, signed with Boston in December when the lockout-delayed season began. He played 55 games during his rookie NBA season and played 19 games during the playoffs despite battling injuries to both feet.

He withdrew earlier this month from playing for the U.S. Select team in scrimmages against U.S. Olympians in Las Vegas because of plantar fasciitis, a troublesome foot injury.

Contract terms were not immediately known, but his multiyear deal is believed to worth between $2.5 million and $3 million a season.

Boston has three days to match the offer, but Naiditch is confident his client now is with the Wolves because the salary-cap stretched Celtics can only sign the 6-11 center to their $1.975 biannual exception.

Saturday's agreement came three days after Portland matched the offer sheet the Wolves gave restricted free agent Nicolas Batum and one day after two other players the team sought -- shooting guard Courtney Lee and power forward Jordan Hill -- signed with other teams.

The Wolves previously reached contract agreements with three-time All-Star Brandon Roy, who retired last December because of two bad knees but now is launching a comeback, and Russian combo guard Alexey Shved.

They also likely are still pursuing a wing player and another big man. Possibilities include Chicago unrestricted free agent Ronnie Brewer, Golden State unrestricted free agent Dominic McGuire, Golden State restricted free agent Brandon Rush, Miami unrestricted free agent Ronny Turiaf and Wolves unrestricted free agent Anthony Tolliver.

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