New general manager Scott Layden probably said it best after he and coach Tom Thibodeau drafted Providence point guard Kris Dunn last week: “It’s clear that there’s a profile that’s going to succeed here with Coach Thibs, and we have to understand the type of players who will have success with Coach: the two-way player — and I can’t say that enough — who can affect the game on each side of the ball. And they’re hard to find. Usually, they’re a specialist and they do one thing well.”
Positional needs: A power forward, preferably of the “stretch” variety whose shooting range will spread the floor for Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and others. … A playmaking wing who defends and preferably can hit the three-pointer as well.
What’s in their wallet? Thanks to a new $24 billion TV deal, the NBA’s salary cap is set to balloon from $70 million last season to $94 million. That means the Wolves could have more than $25 million to spend, IF they choose to spend to the cap limit now.
In Thibs’ words: “We can never have enough shooting. Size, toughness, shooting, those are the things we’re looking for.”
Did he mention shooting? A little age and experience wouldn’t hurt either, would it? Especially not with a team built around Towns, Wiggins and Zach LaVine (none of whom is older than 21). “Scott and I have the age part covered,” Thibodeau said wryly.
Keep your eyes on …
Luol Deng, 6-9 F, Miami: He’s 31 and a Thibodeau favorite from their years together in Chicago. He also last season transformed himself into that “stretch” power forward who was outstanding in a first-round playoff series victory over Charlotte. Probably not the defender he once was, but still plenty savvy enough to qualify as that type of two-way player who also can shoot. But in this new cap world, he could cost well more than $15 million a season on a multi-year deal.
Don’t forget about …
Marvin Williams, 6-9 F, Charlotte: The No. 2 overall pick in 2005, he rejuvenated his career with the Hornets and he, too, has morphed from small forward to a power forward who spaces the floor with his shooting and can defend inside as well. He won’t be cheap, either, but nobody of any value will be.
Joakim Noah, 6-11 C/F, Chicago: A transformative defensive player if he’s healthy, he and Thibodeau had their differences in Chicago but their relationship has mellowed away from each other. He’s probably not as likely to reunite with Thibodeau as people think, partly because he’s a cosmopolitan, big-city kind of guy. New York or L.A., anyone?
Jared Dudley, 6-7 F, Washington: He’s a veteran swingman who can shoot and also play power forward if he’s next to a center who’ll rebound. He also won’t have quite the price tag that many others will.
Kent Bazemore, 6-5 G, Atlanta: A two-way swingman who thrived in the Hawks’ system, he’s just 26 and due for a massive pay raise.
Evan Turner, 6-7 G/F, Boston: He’s not a shooter, but another former No. 2 overall pick who has found his place in the league by doing everything else coaches love on both ends.
Out of their reach?
Kevin Durant is this summer’s big get, but LeBron James, Al Horford, DeMar DeRozen, Mike Conley, Nicolas Batum and Hassan Whiteside also highlight this class of unrestricted free agents. All of them, though, either aren’t leaving their current teams or likely will explore options other than Minnesota. Restricted free agents such as Harrison Barnes, Andre Drummond and Bradley Beal probably aren’t going anywhere because their current teams can match any offer, no matter how ridiculous. If it’s a stretch “4” the Wolves seek, they don’t get any stretchier than New Orleans’ Ryan Anderson, but he’ll be expensive and doesn’t fit the two-way profile.
Three more thoughts
Long shot: Point guard certainly is not a need, but Cleveland’s Matthew Dellavedova is just the kind of player Thibodeau loves. So, too, is a veteran such as former Wolves guard Randy Foye.
Against type: If they go the specialist route, shooter Jimmer Fredette is a low-risk possibility. He participated a Wolves’ workout for free-agent point guards and is looking to use a summer-league gig to get himself back into the league.
Homegrown: Minnesota’s own Jon Leuer (Orono) and Cole Aldrich (Bloomington) both are big men who can fill a role and should fetch an “affordable” price in a market sure to set all-time records in crazy.