NBA Free Agency 2011: 5 Realistic Veterans the Minnesota Timberwolves May Target
Throughout this offseason, general manager and team president David Kahn has been adamant about searching in the free agent pool for a few veteran players to add to the young mix of Minnesota Timberwolves.
"We have a painfully young team. I think there's a chance, again, we could be the youngest team in the league again," Kahn said. "That's tough. It's hard. It's hard on the organization. It's hard on the coaching staff. It's hard on the players themselves sometimes."
The Timberwolves are in need of a veteran or two just to make sure that a mentor is in the locker room and on the basketball court. Many times last season the Wolves looked confused in important situations due to them simply being young. Not having that veteran presence is a detriment to a team.
Here are five realistic options that Kahn may go after.
SG/SF Mickael Pietrus
The Timberwolves were the worst defensive team in the NBA last season and most of the blame can fall on the lack of perimeter defense. Adding a veteran wing player like Mickael Pietrus would improve that area of weakness for the Wolves.
Pietrus also brings the element of three-point shooting. His shot is pure in technique and even though he had a down year last season, a shooter never loses his form.
Considering Pietrus wouldn't be an expensive option, Kahn may be in the hunt for this specialist.
SG Anthony Parker
Anthony Parker isn't a marquee name in the free agent pool, but he is one of the better spot-up shooters available.
With Ricky Rubio being a pass-first point guard, it's an exceptional idea to have at least one three-point specialist on the team. Martell Webster is already a Minnesota Timberwolf, but he's not much of a defensive presence—if one at all.
Defense is what separates Parker from a lot of other shooters available. He's still a reliable defender even at the age of 36.
Not only will Parker be entering his ninth year of NBA ball, but he also played six years of European basketball.
Ricky Rubio will be making a similar transition that Parker once made earlier in his career, and having a teammate there for him would be a plus for the Timberwolves.
SG Richard "Rip" Hamilton
While the lockout is currently in place, Richard Hamilton cannot be bought out by the Detroit Pistons. It's still questionable as to whether or not the Pistons would make that move, but Hamilton is still a good player that needs a new team. That new team could be the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Rip is a 12-year veteran of the NBA and a proven winner. The Timberwolves are looking for experience and a winning attitude and that's just part of what Rip would bring. He's also a lethal mid-range shooter, above-average free-throw shooter, solid on perimeter defense, and a vocal leader.
The downside to acquiring Hamilton is the remaining two years, $25.3 million on his current contract.
The Pistons may decide to trade Rip since they drafted Brandon Knight out of Kentucky and is likely to re-sign Rodney Stuckey before the next season. Not to mention Ben Gordon is their shooting guard off the bench. With those players in place, there is no room for Hamilton in Detroit anymore.
Kahn has two options that he could do to obtain Hamilton's services. He can wait for Rip's contract to get bought out and then pursue him through free agency or he can deal away a bad contract like Nikola Pekovic and a future draft pick for the 33-year-old Hamilton.
SG Tracy McGrady
Tracy McGrady's career isn't over in the NBA. McGrady showed glimpses of that last season with the Detroit Pistons. He's never going to be the same T-Mac that he once was with the Orlando Magic, Toronto Raptors, or Houston Rockets, but his knowledge of the game and leadership qualities still remain.
McGrady is a 14-year veteran of the league and that would be far more than anyone else on the current Minnesota Timberwolves team except for the recently acquired center, Brad Miller. That kind of experience is underrated and every above-average team has a veteran of that type on their team. Being above-average is what the Wolves want to climb to so signing a veteran assists that process.
McGrady still has a very good jumper. Even though he was given close to 23 minutes per game, he shot a respectable 44.2 percent from the field. If T-Mac was willing to take on the mentor role for the Timberwolves, it would be beneficial for the team and the fan base.
SG/SF Caron Butler
Caron Butler should absolutely be high on Kahn's offseason wishlist. The majority of basketball fans look at the Dallas Mavericks team of last year and see Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler as the most valuable players.
While that is true, those people tend to forget about Butler's contributions before he went down to a season-ending knee injury.
Not only is Butler a veteran and has been in the league for nine years, he's also a versatile basketball player that can line up at either shooting guard or small forward. He's a rare breed in that he can score in multiple ways while he's also a great defender.
Butler would be an ideal signing to help the team and help Wesley Johnson mature as a player.