Cole Aldrich

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Report: Timberwolves pull Nemanja Bjelica’s qualifying offer, signing Anthony Tolliver for $5M-$6M

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In a surprise to nobody, a team run by Tom Thibodeau could use better cohesion and 3-point shooting.

Anthony Tolliver will help with both – though at the cost of Nemanja Bjelica.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Depending on the exact terms of Tolliver’s contract, the Timberwolves might now be in line to pay the luxury tax. However, they have until the final day of the regular season to trim salary. Whatever their willingness to spend, they clearly didn’t want Bjelica accepting his $4,937,499 qualifying offer and adding to their payroll.

The 33-year-old Tolliver is better than Bjelica, and that’s what drove this. Tolliver is a good 3-point shooter with an improved ability to attack closeouts. He defends hard, though his mediocre athleticism limits him on that. He’ll take Bjelica’s place as Minnesota’s stretch four behind Taj Gibson.

Tolliver will also provide a unifying voice in what can be a tense locker room that just lost Jamal Crawford and Cole Aldrich. Tolliver is well-respected by his peers, and that’s part of his value.

Bjelica should find suitors on the open market. He’s a capable stretch four with a decent all-around game. After just three seasons in the NBA, he’s already 30, though.

The best part of this sequence: A chance to post this video of Michael Beasley rubbing the wrong knee – Tolliver’s – during Tolliver’s first stint with the Timberwolves:

Timberwolves ace Jimmy Butler trade… then made some other moves

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NBCSports.com’s Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

From the moment former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau took over the Timberwolves, Minnesota was involved in Jimmy Butler trade rumors. But, as of last year, Chicago reportedly wouldn’t budge without receiving Andrew Wiggins, and I didn’t think that was enough for the Bulls. Since, Butler has only improved and Wiggins moved closer to a max salary that will diminish his value. A deal seemed unlikely.

Then, suddenly the Timberwolves traded for Butler – without surrendering Wiggins. A team bound to improve around Karl-Anthony Towns and Wiggins is now set to clobber a 13-year playoff drought.

Butler is a star in his prime who’s locked up for two more seasons at an affordable salary. The price to land him – Zach LaVine (injured and up for a contract extension), Kris Dunn (ineffective as a relatively old rookie) and moving down from the No. 7 to No. 16 pick – was absurdly low. By dropping only nine spots rather than give up the No. 7 pick entirely, Thibodeau just stunted on his old bosses.

That fantastic trade started a busy offseason in Minnesota, but the rest of it wasn’t nearly as inspiring. (To be fair, how could it be?)

Going from Ricky Rubio (two years, $29.25 million remaining) to Jeff Teague (three years, $57 million with a player option) at point guard wasn’t ideal in a vacuum. But Teague’s shooting was important considering Butler and Wiggins form a sketchy wing pairing on 3-pointers and Thibodeau insists on playing two traditional bigs. Plus, the Timberwolves got a first-rounder a first-rounder from the Jazz for Rubio.

Another former Bull, Taj Gibson, will bolster Thibodeau’s two-big rotation. But Minnesota already had Gorgui Dieng and Cole Aldrich (who’s overpaid and has disappointed, but can still eat up minutes) to limit the defensive burden on Towns, and No. 16 pick Justin Patton is in the pipeline. Does a 32-year-old Gibson have enough left in the tank to justify a two-year $28 million contract?

Likewise, will a 37-year-old Crawford provide value at the full room exception (two years, $8,872,400 with a player option)? The Timberwolves didn’t need another ball-handler. Butler, Wiggins and Teague can be staggered enough to handle that. Towns should be tasked with a greater offensive role, too. At least Crawford is a solid spot-up shooter, but his defense is a big minus.

Shabazz Muhammad won’t fill Minnesota’s 3-and-D void, either. But on a minimum contract, he was too talented to pass up. Dante Cunningham could help, though he’s better at power forward than on the wing, where the Timberwolves need more depth.

Thibodeau hasn’t exactly instilled faith in his ability to take this franchise into the future. But he hit a home run with the Butler trade, and that buys him leeway.

Offseason grade: A+

Report: Timberwolves didn’t offer Andrew Wiggins for Kyrie Irving, but Cavaliers want more anyway

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The Timberwolves reportedly offered the Cavaliers a trade for Kyrie Irving.

What did the proposal include?

Apparently not Andrew Wiggins.

Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN:

If the Timberwolves aren’t willing to trade Wiggins – and their max extension offer for him suggest they’re not – I don’t see how they acquire Irving.

Karl-Anthony Towns is far more valuable than Irving and clearly off limits. Jimmy Butler‘s friendship with Irving is probably a key aspect luring Irving to Minnesota. Though Irving has only minimal control where he gets traded, he has the power to signal where he would and wouldn’t re-sign in 2019.

Beyond those three, the Timberwolves lack the assets to get Irving.

A straight Wiggins-for-Irving trade wouldn’t work, anyway – both because their salaries don’t match and apparently because Cleveland wants more.

No, Cole Aldrich is not more. Though including him would make the trade technically allowable, the center – with a salaries of $7.3 million this season and $6,956,021 ($2,056,021 guaranteed) in 2018-19 – probably carries negative value.

The Cavs might want Jeff Teague, who would be displaced by Irving in Minnesota and could step in at point guard in Cleveland. But he can’t be traded until Dec. 15.

And there’s still the matter of the Timberwolves not being willing to deal Wiggins and the Cavaliers wanting more than Wiggins anyway. As Wolfson noted, these teams don’t look close to a trade at all.

As expected, Timberwolves waive Jordan Hill

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Last summer, the Minnesota Timberwolves took a $4 million flier on veteran big man Jordan Hill, hoping he could give them some backup minutes behind Karl-Anthony Towns. Didn’t work out that way, he appeared in just 47 minutes across seven games. Cole Aldrich was better (though not great), and so in the draft the Timberwolves took Justin Patton hoping he can give them some minutes next season.

Which means Hill’s time in Minnesota has come to an end.

This clears $4.1 million off the cap for the Wolves, who plan to do a little free agent spending this summer.

Hill will be 30 years old next season, but I’m not sure that there’s another NBA contract in his future. If so he may have to earn it through a training camp invite.

Report: Timberwolves looking to trade for frontcourt help

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Minnesota picked up its biggest win of the season Tuesday night,  going with its coach to his old stomping grounds in Chicago, where the Timberwolves showed the tenacity and grit they have lacked much of the season. They also played strong defense for three quarters, another nice change of pace.

That’s a nice step, but there are still roster issues with the Timberwolves, some of that along the front line. The Timberwolves have a foundational piece in Karl-Anthony Towns, and they recently re-signed Gorgui Dieng, and Tom Thibodeau seems to trust them — but when those bigs are paired on the court this season the Timberwolves have been outscored by two points per 100 possessions because they allow 110.4 points per 100 on defense.

Which has Thibodeau and the Timberwolves looking for front-court help via trade, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on The Truehoop Podcast with Rachel Nichols Tuesday.

The questions here are twofold. First, what is Minnesota offering? Let’s assume they are not going to surrender either Andrew Wiggins or Zach LaVine, then what they have left are Ricky Rubio, Shabazz Muhammad, and Cole Aldrich. The Timberwolves also don’t have a first-round pick they can move before 2019, and by then that should be late first rounder with this team on the rise. That’s not much to entice other teams.

Second, who can they get? Expect them to call Sacramento — no, not for DeMarcus Cousins (he wouldn’t fit next to Towns, plus Cousins’ isn’t available anyway), but for maybe Kosta Koufos or Willie Cauley-Stein. The Kings will be looking to deal, and those guys will be available. Of course, Milwaukee’s Greg Monroe and Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic are available, but neither of them helps on the defensive end (and the Timberwolves can score plenty). One interesting name that becomes available Wednesday: The Lakers’ Luol Deng. It’s a healthy contract to take on, but he had success in the Thibodeau system before, and the Lakers will listen.

Deals are tough to make, but know that the Timberwolves are frustrated and looking to do something to shake up a roster that has been slower to come around than expected.