The focus of most NBA fans is the playoffs, while many other fans are already looking forward to the annual draft and free-agency period.
The Minnesota Timberwolves will use both the draft and free-agent market to fill holes in the roster and upgrade at certain positions. The point guard, shooting guard and center positions will all be the focal points for general manager David Kahn. Adding a couple quality bench players would help as well due to the sub-par players currently on the roster.
The NBA draft will be held on June 23, 2011 and the free-agent period begins on July 1, 2011.
It's time that Kahn begins his player evaluation while many basketball fans do the same.
The Timberwolves could fill one of their holes with the signing of Tyson Chandler. Chandler is a gritty, tough, defensive-minded player who can get his team at least 10 points and 10 rebounds on any given night. Also, he does the little things right, as he doesn't foul too much and is a decent foul-shooter.
Darko Milicic has had a resurgent season and brought his career from awful to okay. He doesn't do much on the offensive side of the ball, but he does block shots even though he gets himself into foul trouble often.
If not for his injuries, Greg Oden would be the dominant center in the West to match Dwight Howard's domination in the East. Oden has had microfracture surgery on his left and right knees and has recovered from a broken left patella. This summer, Oden will become a restricted free agent and one that Minnesota should take a look at.
Oden would bring a great defensive presence to the Wolves lineup and a needed upgrade at the center position. With his good length and bulky body, he would be able to go against the better centers in the league (Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum, Marc Gasol, etc).
It all depends on his health, and if Minnesota could bring him to play with Michael Beasley and Kevin Love while healthy, look out—they could be a playoff team.
The Timberwolves had the worst defense in the NBA last season and managed to give up an average of 107.7 points per game. All Wolves players had some defensive deficiencies, except for maybe Wes Johnson, but it was the frontcourt that was getting bullied around and demolished for the most part.
The All-Star face of the franchise, Kevin Love, and was less than average on defense, as was Darko Milicic. Love doesn't have the athleticism, quickness or mindset to be good on defense and while Milicic averaged two blocks a game, he fouls way too much.
Adding a player like Kenyon Martin would give the Wolves a forward that can play good defense and grab rebounds while also being able to finish near the basket. It's likely that a double-digit salary will be no more in his future and he should be affordable for Minnesota.
The starting small forward for the Timberwolves, Michael Beasley, is a scoring machine. That needs to be clear, but his weakness is definitely defense. He doesn't play on his man well enough and he doesn't have much anticipation on blocking shots.
Although he does have the athleticism to make up for some of it, having a small forward off the bench that specializes in defense would be a good idea for the Timberwolves.
That specialist goes by the name of Tayshaun Prince. Prince will finally be leaving the Detroit Pistons this summer when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. He has been in Detroit his whole career and has been a nuisance for opposing players on offense since he entered the league in 2002.
With his long arms and tall, lanky body, he could be a contributor to a weak Minnesota defense.
The oft-injured veteran, Michael Redd, will hit the free-agent market this offseason and for the first time in his 11-year career, he could be playing for a different team next season. The Milwaukee Bucks have been rumored to be discussing his future internally and many believe that they won't offer him a contract this summer.
Redd has been a legit scoring threat and very good player every season he has been a starter and has been healthy. The last three seasons, Redd has been plagued by injuries, mostly to his knees.
His career may be back on the right direction next season as he is supposed to be healthy. The Timberwolves could easily use his all-around good game and veteran leadership on the team. Players like Redd are the type that many young players look up to and can ask questions in order to gain knowledge while feeling comfortable doing so.
His days of $90-million contracts are over and he will be way more affordable. Kahn may decide to take the veteran road and have Redd come in for a few years to help get this team to the playoffs in the future.
The Orlando Magic's window of opportunity has closed and with Dwight Howard's future uncertain, it's time for them to do what many teams before them have done—and that's rebuild. The Magic haven't been the same team since they traded for Jason Richardson and will end up letting Richardson walk during free agency.
The Timberwolves will need to fill the shooting guard position this summer via trade, free agency or draft. Adding a player like Richardson—an above-average scorer and a veteran—would make the young players in Minnesota step up their game and increase their focus.
When most of the roster is 25 or younger, it means that there aren't many veteran players on the team and every team needs a few. If the Wolves were to add Richardson to the roster, the team would improve mentally and add more wins to their record.
This was probably the last season for J.R. Smith in a Denver Nuggets jersey. He's had problems with head coach George Karl and some members of the front office. At some point, he needs to find a team that will stick with him as a starter.
Minnesota has a hole at shooting guard and taking a risk on Smith wouldn't be a bad option.
Smith may not be all there in terms of the mental side of the game, but physically, he can do it all. He has the ability to bring a team that is well behind and bring them back into the game.
On the same note, he can shoot a team right out of the ball game too.
He's only 25 years old and could be a star in this league if given the right situation. Smith needs a team that won't put a ton of pressure on him, give him a starting role and will support him through the good and bad. Playing alongside Kevin Love and Michael Beasley, who are close to his own age and still growing up, would be positive for Smith's own maturation.
Smith won't command a whole lot on the free-agent market, so David Kahn should be interested in picking him up.
It's quite clear that the team likes having a backcourt rotation of Ty Lawson, Raymond Felton and Arron Afflalo, so Chandler is on the outside looking in. He will be wearing a new jersey next season, but could it be for the Timberwolves?
Chandler is a SG/SF that can score from anywhere on the court. His mid-range and three-point game are good and he also has the ability to drive the lane effectively. His defense is average at best, but it is still improving. A team like Minnesota who can give him consistent starting minutes and allow him to stay in the game would be beneficial to Chandler and his career.
Kahn will likely debate his interest in Chandler. If Kahn feels that he can add to this team's progression and its future, then it would be up to Chandler to make the decision to come to Minnesota.
Nick Young was one of the league's most underrated players last season while he played for the Washington Wizards.
He averaged 17.4 points per game in what could be called his breakout year. Young will become a restricted free agent this offseason and should be pursued by multiple teams, but might not be since he's had only one above average season in his short three-year career.
The Timberwolves have been stockpiling young, talented players since they began the rebuilding process and adding one through free agency would only add to the lot of them. Young would be a dynamic half of the backcourt regardless of who plays the point guard next season, whether it be Ricky Rubio or Kyrie Irving.
Young plays the game of basketball like he's in a video game, making tough shots and highlight-reel type dunks. He has a sweet shooting stroke and a quick, graceful driving ability to his offensive arsenal. On the defensive end, he plays with good balance and anticipation.
Signing Young to play shooting guard for the Wolves would upgrade the position all around. This move would be bold due to Young having only one season of brilliance. Because he's a restricted free agent, the Wizards would have to pass up the chance to match whatever deal Minnesota offered and who knows what they would offer for Young's services.
The former Sixth Man of the Year and current Atlanta Hawk will be entering this summer as a free agent. It doesn't look like the Hawks will want to or be able to pay him what he is looking for so a new team may be in Crawford's future.
In his mind, he needs to be looking for a team that can pay him what he wants and provide him with a starting role at shooting guard. Minnesota can provide both.
Jamal Crawford is a scoring machine and a player that thrives with the ball in his hands when the game is on the line. In any game, he can drop a quick 20 points on the other team just like that. Crawford has been a huge contributor to Atlanta's success and has shown that he has plenty of quality years left to play, even though he's 30 years old.
The Timberwolves would ultimately be getting a scoring beast and a clutch player with the signing of Crawford. It doesn't help the main focus of defense much, but if Minnesota is going to continue to get into high-scoring games, there's not many players they could want other than Crawford.