The Minnesota Timberwolves were quiet at the trade deadline, but they’ve been very busy in the week and half since it passed.
Last Thursday, they reached a buyout agreement with Andre Miller and subsequently waived him; Tuesday, the ol’ professor signed a deal to join the San Antonio Spurs for the rest of the season. (Hot take: good for him. I hope he gets a ring.)
The Miller move left the Wolves with one open roster spot, and yesterday, the excellent Chris Reichert reported on how they’d fill it:
The Minnesota Timberwolves plan to sign Raptors 905 center Greg Smith to a 10-day contract, per a league source
— Chris Reichert (@Chris_Reichert) March 1, 2016
Greg Smith is a 25 year old center from Fresno State University. After going undrafted in 2011, Smith played for a pro team in Mexico during the lockout, and upon his return, spent three seasons between the Houston Rockets and their D-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. His best season came in 2012-13, when he appeared in 70 games, including 10 starts, and put up averages of 6.0 points and 4.6 rebounds on 62% shooting. Injuries wrecked his 2013-14 NBA season, and Houston did not retain his services after it ended. Smith caught on with the Mavericks last year, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds in 42 games in a very limited role.
This year, with the Toronto Raptors’ 905 affiliate in the D-League, Smith averaged 12.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.4 blocks on 51% shooting in 17 games. He brings some NBA experience to the team’s frontcourt, which is badly needed; Gorgui Dieng missed Tuesday’s practice for personal reasons, and if he is unavailable for their next game, the Wolves would be dangerously thin up front. Of course, the signing hasn’t been officially announced by the team, so none of this is set in stone, but there’s a decent chance Smith will be in uniform when Minnesota takes on Washington at home on Wednesday night.
Some quick analysis: Smith has been a decent NBA player in the past. He stays in his lane on offense and has been a role player on a playoff team before. It’s more of a “let’s get a guy that can help right now” signing than a “ah, hell, let’s swing for the fences” signing, which I would’ve preferred, but that’s okay. The Wolves can use their next open roster spot on the next Jeremy Lin or Hassan Whiteside.
Also happening Tuesday evening – the Wolves and representatives for Kevin Martin had until 11 P.M. CST to reach a buyout agreement, thus making the 33 year old shooting guard eligible to appear in a postseason game for another team. A half hour prior to the bell, Marc Stein gave us the expected news:
ESPN sources say that the Timberwolves and Kevin Martin have reached terms on a buyout agreement and have submitted it for league approval
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) March 2, 2016
Martin, who had a $7.4 million player option for next year as part of the 4 year, $27.75 million deal he signed in the summer of 2013, finishes his Wolves career with averages of 17.1 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.8 assists on 42/39/86 shooting splits in 146 games (116 starts).
It’s a rather uninspired ending for a player who was, believe it or not, the biggest free agent signing in franchise history. He was a big part of the best (and yet, most disappointing) Timberwolves team of the past decade, the 40-42 effort in the final Adelman/Love campaign. His efficient scoring and spurts of carrying the offense never quite seemed to atone for his poor defense and lack of clutch shooting. As cool and quirky as it was to watch him unleash that funky shot of his, I will not miss his feverish attempts to draw fouls, often at the expense of ball movement and involving teammates.
Don’t get me wrong – there were some cool moments. This was my favorite – the night he dropped 37 points on New York after breaking his damn shooting wrist in the first damn quarter:
Which inspired my favorite media day moment I’ve ever been a part of:
Q: how did you score 39 after breaking your wrist.
Kevin Martin: I was playing the Knicks.
— William Bohl (@BreakTheHuddle) September 28, 2015
All told, Martin was signed to be part of a good team trying to make the postseason, in a last ditch effort to convince Kevin Love to stay. Once that plan fizzled, Love moved on, and so did the Wolves, who went about rebuilding but K-Mart lingered. He didn’t really fit in with Minnesota’s youth movement, as evidenced by all the awkwardness that took place in training camp; it’s probably best he is moving on. For what it’s worth, it doesn’t sound like he’s holding any grudges.
KMartin thanks Glen Taylor, wife Becky, the Saunders & Adelman families, praised team’s young players & said “Make your big brother proud”
— Jerry Zgoda (@JerryZgoda) March 2, 2016
The Spurs are reportedly the leader in the clubhouse to sign Martin, which makes me a little peeved, to be honest. If San Antonio really wanted the two oldest members of the Wolves’ backcourt so badly, maybe they would’ve offered Kawhi Leonard (or LaMarcus Aldridge or Patty Mills or even BOBAN!) at the trade deadline…
Come on, Milt Newton, ya bum.
Once the Smith and Martin moves are official, the roster will stand at 14 again. More theories on who the Wolves should sign from the D-League to follow.