Kyle Anderson, Timberwolves Agree to 2-Year, $18M Contract in 2022 NBA Free Agency

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 1, 2022

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - FEBRUARY 15: Kyle Anderson #1 of the Memphis Grizzlies reacts against the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half at the Smoothie King Center on February 15, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Veteran forward Kyle Anderson agreed to terms with the Minnesota Timberwolves on a two-year, $18 million deal, agents Thad Foucher and Joe Smith told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Memphis Grizzlies took a big step forward in 2021-22, going from a play-in position the year prior to the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference.

To help the collective, Anderson had to make some individual sacrifices. The 28-year-old made 69 starts in 2020-21 when Jaren Jackson Jr. was out for all but 11 games. With Jackson back to full health, he took more of a back seat in the frontcourt.

Anderson averaged 7.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 21.5 minutes per game. He also shot 44.6 percent from the field and 33.0 percent from beyond the arc.

The 2014 first-round pick remained an effective defender. He held opponents to 58.6 percent shooting inside six feet, 5.1 percent worse than their usual percentage, per NBA.com. Opposing players also hit just 33.5 percent of their threes when matched up against him.

Bleacher Report's Grant Hughes questioned in March whether Memphis would go above and beyond to ensure the 6'9" playmaker returned.

"Anderson, having lost his starting gig this season, hardly seems indispensable," Hughes wrote. "Memphis could use his roster slot and freed-up cash to take a shot at Miles Bridges or kick the tires on T.J. Warren. Both would up the Grizzlies' 2023 championship equity."

When it comes to chasing a title, smaller-market franchises such as the Grizzlies have a much lower margin for error. They experienced it firsthand when their four-year max contract for Chandler Parsons in 2016 was a bust and almost single-handedly shut their window for contention.

Anderson obviously wasn't going to command max-level money, but general manager Zachary Kleiman has to be conscious of the team's finances. Ja Morant and Brandon Clarke will be restricted free agents in 2023, the same year Dillon Brooks is due for unrestricted free agency.

When it comes to role players such as Anderson, Memphis needs to be willing to hold firm at a certain price point if push comes to shove.

From the moment he entered the NBA, Anderson has been a solid point forward whose nickname (Slo Mo) succinctly illustrates his biggest flaw. If he were about 20 percent more athletic, he might be a perennial All-Star.

As a member of Minnesota's rotation, Anderson's role is unlikely to change much. He's a good backup power forward who can also be a small-ball option at the 5.