Surveying the scraps: Finding the Wolves another player (or two)
Yesterday, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reiterated what many of those who cover the team closely have been saying: the Wolves aren’t done making moves, despite the fact that the league is about to enter hibernation mode until training camps open in October:
#Twolves FO had another personnel meeting today. Bottom-line: the current 15 isn’t the 15 they envision in a few months. Wing, PG = targets.
— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) July 20, 2016
All of the desirable free agent point guard and wing free agents have already been snapped up; what remains is a collection of players who are either old, green, physically underwhelming, dealing with some significant injury, or some combination of those factors. But if we look very hard, and squint at a few of the guys, the argument can be made that an intriguing option or two are still available.
(Note: this entire post might be a moot point, because the persistent scuttle holds that the Wolves are looking to make a trade to address their needs, but just in case they can’t pull one off, it doesn’t hurt to see what’s out there. Plus, it’s mid-July. The dog days are here. There ain’t much better to do.)
- Donald Sloan
- 2016 stats (w/ Brooklyn): 61 games, 33 starts, 7.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 49.4% effective FG%, 3.4-to-1 assist/turnover ratio.
- 28 years old – Undrafted in 2011, has played for Atlanta, New Orleans, Cleveland, Indiana, and Brooklyn during 5 year career.
- Analysis: He’s got good size (6’3, 205 lbs) and had career-best season from beyond the arc in 2015-16, hitting 38% of his shots from distance. The downside? It may have been a mirage – he entered the year as a career 28% three-point shooter, and he put up those (albeit solid) numbers on a really, really bad Brooklyn team. Still, he could be worth a shot if Tom Thibodeau is looking for a dependable backup PG option ahead of Tyus Jones. He’s signed with a Chinese team for the upcoming season, but those situations are always fluid, and if that falls through, he could be a fine one year option.
- Norris Cole
- 2016 stats (w/ New Orleans): 45 games, 23 starts, 10.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 43.9% effective FG%, 2.2-to-1 assist/turnover ratio.
- 27 years old – 28th overall pick in 2011 Draft, has played for Miami and New Orleans during 5 year career.
- Analysis: Cole, a two time NBA champion with the Heat, saw his 2015-16 season start late (he injured his ankle in training camp) and end early (when he injured his back in early March). In between, he was perfectly blah; he showed confidence in his jumper, which is wholly unwarranted, and didn’t play the type of energetic defense he was known for with the Heat. He gets to the line at an incredibly low rate (career: 1.7 FTAs per-36 minutes), indicating a real lack of burst. As the Pelican Debrief noted in their season recap, he was a net negative at both ends of the floor (according to advanced box score numbers), and finished the season with a well-below average PER. He could be fine on a minimum or near-minimum deal, but other than that… pass.
- Kirk Hinrich
- 2016 stats (w/ Chicago and Atlanta): 46 games, 7 starts, 3.0 points, 1.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 47.3% effecitve FG%, 2.3-to-1 assist/turnover ratio.
- 35 years old – 7th overall pick in 2003 Draft, has played for Chicago, Washington, and Atlanta during 13 year career.
- Analysis: Stop rolling your eyes. No – seriously – hey, don’t click that ‘X’ in the top right corner of the screen! I’m not trolling, here, I promise. Hear me out: if you think Tyus Jones has a legitimate shot to stick in the NBA as a backup point guard (especially given his stellar play in Summer League), the Wolves could do a lot worse than bringing in Kirk Hinrich, who is familiar with Thibs’ system and could easily slide to the very end of the bench if Tyus proves that he’s ready to lead the second unit for 15-18 minutes per night. If Jones isn’t ready, then Hinrich can be a perfectly blah placeholder until he’s capable.
- Touré Murry
- 2016 stats (w/ Sioux Falls and Texas of the NBDL): 45 games, 36 starts, 11.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 48.4% effective FG%, 2.1-to-1 assist/turnover ratio.
- 26 years old – Undrafted in 2012, has played for New York, Utah, and Washington in 2 NBA seasons
- Analysis: At 6’5 and 200 pounds, Murry can guard either the one or the two, but skews towards playing the one on the other end of the floor. He appeared in all 8 Wolves Summer League games, barely hitting a third of his field goals (34.6%) and missing 12 of 14 threes. It’ll be interesting to see if he winds up with an invitation to camp, but even if he receives one, he’ll be a long-shot; while he’s got some NBA experience (56 games in all), it’s likely Tom Thibodeau wants someone a tad more reliable.
- Also available (each with a brief comment):
- Steve Blake (OLD)
- Mario Chalmers (INJURED, BUT WOULD OTHERWISE BE INTRIGUING)
- Shane Larkin (SMALL)
- Phil Pressey (EVEN SMALLER THAN SHANE LARKIN)
- Ty Lawson (TRAINWRECK, NO THANKS)
- Fred Smith (I MADE THIS ONE UP, JUST TO SEE IF YOU’RE PAYING ATTENTION)
- Ray McCallum (WHATEVER)
- Coty Clarke
- 2016 stats (w/ Maine of the NBDL): 44 games, 16 starts, 16.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 59.0% effective FG%, 1.1 steals, 0.7 blocks
- 24 years old – Undrafted in 2015, appeared in 3 games with Boston during a pair of 10-day contracts last season
- Analysis: The market for wing players with extensive NBA experience is bone-thin, so if the Wolves are serious about signing one, they might have to get creative. That’s where Clarke comes in; the 6’7, 232 pound Alabama native (pictured above) posted a 51/41/79 shooting line in over 1100 D-League minutes last season, the kind of all-around goodness that has him on the short list of the best remaining wings on the market. Clarke struggled to shoot in Las Vegas, hitting just 7-of-24 threes, but deserves a shot to prove what he can do in training camp. He’s still just 24, so there’s a little bit of upside, here – definitely a name to watch.
- Xavier Silas
- 2016 stats (w/ Bakersfield of the NBDL): 27 games, 25 starts, 18.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 53.8% effective FG%, 1.0 steals.
- 28 years old – Undrafted in 2011, has played extensively in the D-League and overseas, including stints with Israeli, German, Argentine, and Greek clubs.
- Analysis: A shooting guard who probably can’t play up to the three, the former Northern Illinois standout had a terrific season shooting the ball for the Bakersfield Jam last season. Not only did he knock down nearly 40% of his threes, he also sank 90% of the 4 free throws he attempted per game. The long and the short of it: he can make shots, but might not provide much else, and is already nearing 30, so his upside is somewhat limited. He was also a member of the Summer Wolves, so he ought to have an inside track on a training camp invite.
- Treveon Graham
- 2016 stats (w/ Idaho of the NBDL): 46 games, 20 starts, 15.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 52.0% effective FG%, 0.8 steals.
- 22 years old – Undrafted in 2015, signed a non-guaranteed deal with Utah last summer before being cut in camp; spent last season with Idaho in the D-League.
- Analysis: Slated to play for Utah’s brand new, dedicated affiliate (the Salt Lake City Stars) next season, Graham might not really be feasible; the Jazz appear somewhat invested in keeping him around as a stash prospect. But again, the wing market is thin, and if the Wolves were willing to offer some guaranteed money to pry him away, it could work – Graham is just 22, with great size (6’5, 230 lbs) and length (6’11 wingspan).
- Lance Stephenson
- 2016 stats (w/ the L.A. Clippers and Memphis): 69 games, 13 starts, 8.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 51.3% effective FG%, 0.6 steals.
- 25 years old – 40th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, has played for Indiana, Charlotte, the L.A. Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies during 6 year career.
- Analysis: He’s probably the most talented of the wings on the market, but raw talent has never been the question, has it? The question marks come in everywhere else; decision-making, attention to detail, attitude, etc. Lance was fun for that half a season when he put it all together, but I’d rather not have him anywhere close to a young team. Pass.
- Dion Waiters
- 2016 stats (w Oklahoma City): 78 games, 15 starts, 9.8 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 46.0% effective FG%, 1.0 steals.
- 24 years old – 4th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, has played for Cleveland and Oklahoma CIty during 4 year career.
- Analysis: It’s impossible for me to be objective on this one – Waiters has been one of my very least favorite players to watch during his time in the league. It’s probably unfair of me; he seems like a genuinely sweet, albeit kind of strange and hilariously overconfident, guy. Despite the fact he’s not going to turn 25 until December, and is coming off a postseason run in which he shot the ball very well (38% from deep) and played exceptional defense (he was a key reason the Thunder pushed the Warriors to seven games), I want no part of him – his tunnel vision on offense is a complete turn off. However: the Wolves have a little cap space, and if he were to come here on the right deal, I could probably talk myself into it… probably. Maybe.
- Also available, each with a brief comment:
- Cleanthony Early (WEAK JUMPER, NO THANKS)
- P.J. Hairston (DITTO)
- Rasual Butler (OLD)
- Frank Smith (I ALSO MADE THIS ONE UP, JUST TO SEE IF YOU’RE PAYING ATTENTION)
- Maurice Harkless (PROBABLY DESERVED A LITTLE BLURB LIKE THE ONES ABOVE, BUT I RAN OUT OF TIME AND ENERGY TO ADD ONE MORE)
- Okay, fine, Maurice Harkless. Great size, still young (just turned 23 in May), but two teams have now given up on him, and though he’s supposedly a “3 and D” guy, he’s hit just 30% of his career threes, and just 27.9% last season. Again, if the price is right, and he doesn’t want anything over a year (or one plus an option), that’d be okay. But no one really seems to be hot after him, despite the weak wing market. I think that says a lot.
… the pickings are slim. Work those phones, Thibs and Layden. A trade may be your best bet to find that point guard and wing player you supposedly covet.