So young not so long ago, the Timberwolves’ maturation from a team for the future to a team of the now continued Saturday, when they reached a contract agreement with 37-year-old guard Jamal Crawford, according to league sources with knowledge of the negotiation.
A three-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year since 2010, Crawford’s arrival once he clears waivers Monday will give the Wolves a three-point shooting wing off the bench they so badly need.
They will use their $4.3 million-plus “room” exception under the salary cap to sign the 17-year veteran who played his first NBA game in 2000. The two-year, $8.9 contract includes a player option for the second season.
Wolves coach and President of Basketball Operations Tom Thibodeau stressed Saturday that the signing isn’t finalized, but he told Sirius/XM NBA Radio at the Las Vegas Summer League, “If we were fortunate enough to get him, he’d be a great fit for us.”
Thibodeau also called Crawford “that explosive-type scorer who can come off the bench, put a lot of pressure on people and his veteran experience, the fact that he has been around and been in a lot of big games. I think we all know what he is. I love his passion for the game.”
Crawford was traded from the Los Angeles Clippers to Atlanta in a three-way deal Thursday and then worked a buyout on $14.2 million due him for this coming season. That allowed him to negotiate with the Wolves, Cleveland, Washington and the Los Angeles Lakers, among others, as an unrestricted free agent.
The Wolves convinced him he was needed to join a team that now has added All-Star Jimmy Butler, veteran point guard Jeff Teague and 32-year-old role player Taj Gibson as well as Crawford since draft night three weeks ago.
Crawford will become the Wolves’ 11th player with a guaranteed contract on a roster that can have 15 players. They still need to add three or four more players — shooters and defenders preferably, primarily still on the wing — either by trade or league minimum contracts. In a conference call Friday with reporters, Thibodeau said “it’s always possible” to make a trade that clears more cap space.
Gibson was arrested in New York City and charged with a moving vehicle violation and driving with a suspended license early Thursday, four days after he agreed to a two-year, $28 million contract with the Wolves.
According to police, Gibson was stopped after making an illegal U-turn in Queens, and a computer check determined the Illinois driver’s license he produced to be suspended. He was ordered to appear in court Sept. 1.
Gibson and Teague are scheduled to be officially introduced at a Monday news conference.
Summer League opener
The Wolves began Las Vegas Summer League play with a 97-72 loss to Toronto. Marcus Paige led the Wolves with 18 points and Jack Gibbs had 17.