The Wolves Should Focus On Finding A Cheap Point Guard In Free Agency

Photo Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Well, now that the Atlanta Hawks are trading for Dejounte Murray and torpedoed the article I was almost finished with for this week, the Minnesota Timberwolves need to set their sights on a different point guard to bolster the position this offseason. They still have D’Angelo Russell‘s services for one more year, but if the reports are to be believed, he may be on his way out as early as this weekend. If that’s the case, and the Wolves shift their trade focus to a big-name center, they’ll need to pan the free agency waters for a cheap point guard.

The Timberwolves are in pretty good shape with the cap this offseason. They’ve got $23 million of wiggle room before they dip into the luxury tax, a $10.5 million non-taxpayer mid-level exception, and a $4.1 million bi-annual exception. The Wolves kicked the offseason off by re-signing swiss army knife forward Taurean Prince to a two-year deal worth $16 million. They’ve been linked to trades for Rudy Gobert, Clint Capela, and now possibly Deandre Ayton to beef up the frontline. But if Russell’s days are numbered in Minnesota and the Wolves push all their chips in for a high-end center to pair with Karl-Anthony Towns, a free agent point guard off the bargain bin should be next on Minnesota’s shopping list.

Look up and down the list of free-agent point guards, and things get scary very quickly. The Houston Rockets bought out John Wall, and he is signing with the Los Angeles Clippers. Jalen Brunson will get $100 million from the New York Knicks, and Ricky Rubio is coming off a torn ACL. I previously wrote about bringing Tyus Jones home, but his price tag might get too steep for the Wolves. That leaves a few names for new President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly to kick around this summer.

This first section was supposed to be about how the Timberwolves should sign veteran point guard Patty Mills who declined his 6.2 player option with the Brooklyn Nets earlier this week. Still, the guy can’t even wait until this article is published to re-sign with the Nets for $14.5 million over two years. He’s killed my hopes of being the offensive equivalent of Patrick Beverley and teaming up in the backcourt, creating the Pat-Court.

Now that the Pat-Court will never happen (RIP), Minnesota might have to look at signing a journeyman on a minimum contract. Guys like Rajon Rondo, Goran Dragic, Facundo Campazzo, or Raul Neto don’t exactly move the needle. Still, as long as they can move the ball and get out of the way, throwing a minimum contract their way isn’t the worst way to spend money these days.

Wait a minute, I’ve just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story. I need you to stop what you’re doing and listen to me. There’s one more point guard who just became a free agent while I’m writing this article. The Detroit Pistons are buying (pause for dramatic effect even though this is print media, and it doesn’t work like that) Kemba Walker out of the last year of his $9.2 million contract, making him a free agent. The four-time All-Star is coming off a season in which he only played in 37 games for a sinking Knicks team and averaged 11.6 points and 3.5 assists on 40.3 percent shooting. Still, Kemba could be just what the Wolves need to fill out their roster this offseason.

Kemba has been a shell of himself for years, thanks to knee injuries. But much like Derrick Rose in 2018, the Wolves might be the perfect place for a career rehabilitation. Unless some other team thinks it’s 2019, Minnesota should easily be able to sign Kemba using the MLE. He’d be the perfect DLo replacement who can still knock down a three when called upon. He might even hit a clutch shot or two if there’s still some Cardiac Kemba in there somewhere. It’s not a perfect fit. He needs the ball in his hands to be effective and has become increasingly ineffective with the ball in his hands. But he’s only 32, so it’s not inconceivable that he still has some juice left in the tank.

Any of this action relies on a hypothetical domino effect that begins with trading Russell and going after a big-time center to open up a need at point guard. But if that happens and the Wolves need a serviceable point guard to throw lobs to Rudy Gobert, hit KAT for a corner three, or get Ant a highlight-reel dunk in transition, Minnesota could do much worse than focussing on bringing in Patty Mills or Kemba Walker as a short-term answer. If all else fails, a minimum veteran point guard with a well-crafted roster around them should get the job done in the meantime.

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Photo Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

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