The Timberwolves officially introduced free agent signees Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson at a news conference Monday, and it was pretty clear what they thought was the most important thing they bought with a combined $85 million in free agency spending between the two players: playoff experience.
Teague, the point guard picked by head coach/personnel boss Tom Thibodeau to provide a steady hand and more accurate shooting than predecessor Ricky Rubio, has played in 66 career playoff games. Gibson, a rugged post defender, has appeared in 61.
“They’re both winners,” Thibodeau said, while GM Scott Layden consistently stressed the 127 combined playoff appearances between the two new Wolves veterans.
Teague, 29, has never missed the playoffs in eight seasons with the Hawks and Pacers.
“I expect nothing less,” Teague said in reference to the playoffs and his first year with the Timberwolves. Minnesota has missed the postseason in 13 consecutive years, but the two signings and the draft night trade for Jimmy Butler could change that.
The Butler trade, in fact, might have already altered the trajectory of the franchise in more ways than one. Teague said that after he heard about the Butler trade, he called his agent and said, ” I want to go to Minnesota.”
Gibson, 32, is like Butler in that he played for Thibodeau in Chicago. Thibodeau called Gibson an “elite defender in the league as far as big guys go.” Gibson said of Thibodeau, “I remember the work ethic and the battles,” adding that the pair have “unfinished business” after coming up short with the Bulls in a quest to win a championship.