Timberwolves coach/president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau commented on the team's moves these six days in a conference call with reporters this afternoon and said the team did what it needed to do to get better by essentially swapping point guards, Ricky Rubio for newcomer Jeff Teague.
"Ricky did a good job here," Thibodeau said. "We're happy for him. We wish him well. He made a number of contributions to our team and organization and community and we certainly appreciate that. For us, where we are, we have to get out of this hole and we felt we had an opp to improve our team and that's why we did what we did. It's the tough part of this job. You always have to put the team first and so that's what we did. When we had an opportunity to get a guy like Jeff Teague, that's what we wanted to do."
The Wolves traded Rubio to Utah last Friday for a 2018 first-round pick belonging to Oklahoma City, but more importantly by doing so they cleared Rubio's $14.1 million salary that allowed them to sign Teague to a three-year, $57 million free-agent deal.
Thibodeau said he likes that Teague has played in on "teams that won big" -- his Atlanta Hawks won 60 games two seasons ago and reached the Eastern Conference finals -- and praised his skills as a "terrific" and speedy pick and roll play" who can get into the lane and can finish his drives. He said he was impressed how difficult Teague and Al Horford were to defend in pick and rolls, particularly in the playoffs.
The Wolves also have agreed to sign Taj Gibson, who played for Thibodeau in Chicago, but still need to fill out the rest of the roster with versatile wing players off the bench who can shoot and defend. They have 10 players signed to guaranteed contracts and have a 15-man big-league roster to fill.
Thibdoeau said the team has four roster spots to fill; maybe he's got one in the pocket not revealed yet.
Asked if he has concerns that the Wolves can address their remaining needs with the $4.3 million "room" exception and league minimum contract they still can give.
"Well, you always have a level of concern," he said. "But we have four spots to fill. We're doing our due diligence. We'll see the possibilities that are out there...We think we're in good position."