Four inexpensive free agent options for the Timberwolves

To succeed in the modern NBA, you either need a deep team with multiple All-Stars, or LeBron James. While Minnesota does have two All-Stars in Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns, it has a mediocre bench. And LeBron unfortunately does not play for the Wolves. Here are a few, cheap options to help the team bolster its roster on both ends of the floor.   

  1. Nemanja Bjelica, PF/SF

When healthy last year, Bjelica overall gave the Wolves good minutes off the bench. Prior to this season, he looked like a deer in the headlights when he tried taking defenders off the dribble. But he has developed his game nicely and can now shoot off the dribble, drive to the hoop and even facilitate at times.

Bjelica was the Wolves’ best shooter off the bench and second-best three-point shooter overall, connecting on 41.5 percent of his shots beyond the arc, behind only Karl-Anthony Towns (42.1 percent).

Retaining Bjelica would at least ensure depth and versatility at the three/four. Another plus is he has Bird rights and can be signed even if it means exceeding the salary cap.

  1. Trevor Ariza, SF

While bringing back Bjelica is a move to help the offense, this is one is to mainly to boost play on the other side of the ball. Ariza has been an anchor for Houston’s defense over the past four seasons, and can knock down perimeter shots when called upon.

As one of the key guys in Houston’s switch everything defense, Ariza’s size and length (6 feet, 8 inches; 7-2 wingspan), and tenacity allow him to be a versatile defender who can switch onto guards and less-punishing big men in the pick-and-roll.

The attraction with Ariza is obvious. He has the second-best defensive rating (101.8) on the Rockets during the playoffs and can provide the Wolves with much-needed depth on the perimeter.

  1. Wayne Ellington, SG

Another offense-oriented move here. Shooting guard Wayne Ellington can provide Minnesota with a shooting spark off the bench, as he attempted 7.5 threes per game this season, hitting on 39.2 percent of them.

Minnesota was last in three-point attempts per game (22.5), threes made (8) and 19th in three-point percentage (35.7), so Ellington can fill an offensive void and help modernize the Wolves’ dated offense.

The Wolves drafted Ellington 28th overall in 2009. He averaged 6.4 points per game during his three seasons in Minnesota, so hopefully his potential second stint with the Wolves is more productive than his first.

  1. Luc Mbah a Moute, PF/SF

Luc Mbah a Moute also had a previous go with the Wolves. He spent the 2013-14 season in Minnesota, and in terms of production, it was the worst year of his career. He appeared in 55 games, averaging only 3.3 points.

Mbah a Moute, like his teammate Ariza, has become a premier defensive player in the NBA. He had the second-best defensive rating (101.2) of any Rockets player to play in more than 50 games, and can affectively defend guards, forwards and big men.

The defensive versatility of Mbah a Moute and Ariza can help the Wolves match up with teams built to contend in the modern NBA, while the shooting ability of Bjelica and Ellington would help Minnesota’s offense adapt to today’s game.

Wiggins’ max contract combined with other expensive salaries like Jeff Teague, Jimmy Butler and Gorgui Dieng, have restricted the Wolves’ spending money in the free agent market, so affording non-minimum additions will require some roster tweaking.

None of these moves help the Wolves get younger, as Bjelica, Ariza, Ellington and Mbah a Moute are 30, 32, 30, 31, respectively. They will, however, provide depth and versatility on a team that desperately needs both.

Author: thrillswithjmills

Food lover located in Fargo, N.D. Chicken strip aficionado; blogger; aspiring TikTok superstar.

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