Danny Chau has been driving the Alexey Shved bandwagon for as long as I’ve known Danny. He writes for Hardwood Paroxysm and has a fantastic knowledge of everything that is Alexey Shved on a basketball court. I asked him to give a brief scouting report on Shved so Wolves fans can get more familiar with his game. You can follow Danny on Twitter here.
I just got through finishing a couple victory laps around my house. Russian guard Alexey Shved has agreed to a deal with the Wolves. Get excited.
Shved has become a more familiar name this summer thanks to the interest from several NBA teams, but scouts have been gawking at Shved’s potential for more than half a decade. It wasn’t that long ago that he was dominating Europe’s youth circuit and thought of as a potential lottery pick in the NBA draft. The Wolves are looking at a legit 6’6” combo guard with dynamite athleticism and creating ability. Something of a revelation last season was Shved’s fantastic 3-point percentage in the Euroleague (50 percent). This probably won’t translate directly (especially considering the difference in distance between the NBA/FIBA 3-point lines), something Shved himself admitted to in an interview with Euroleague.net:
“I don’t think that the shot is my strongest asset! I like best to be in pick-and-roll situations; I like to pass the ball. It just happened that I have good shooting percentages in the Euroleague. If you look at my stats in other tournaments, I am not shooting as well. I can just say that it’s great that I am making 50% of my shots.” Continue Reading…
This morning, we had this tweet from @sportsruenglish, a Russian sports website saying that Alexey Shved was going to become a member of the Wolves:
Then, I sent out our field reporter Andrew Renschen (@infraren) retroactively (or you know… he was tweeting with the agent of Shved on his own before a lot of this even broke… believe whichever version you’d like) to see if he could extract any information from Shved’s agent Obrad Fimic. Continue Reading…
Regardless of whether or not Nicolas Batum ends up on the Wolves or stays in Portland, he’s going to get paid $45 million over four years (with the possibility of bonuses). Let’s just pretend the contract is going to be four years and $50 million because of the bonuses. That puts Batum’s annual salary at an average of $12.5 million per year.
Jason Quick of TheOregonian tweeted that Brandon Roy has come to a decision regarding his comeback.
It has since been confirmed by a lot of reporters and the figures are out. Brandon Roy is signing with the Timberwolves for two years and $10.4 million. It sounds like a lot for a player who recently retired due to his knees being unfit for court time, and possibly it is. Personally, I don’t think you can have bad contracts if they’re two years or shorter. Two year deals are a risk worth taking because the reward for a player like Roy regaining even 75% of his form for half of the time he was used to playing per game is immense. Continue Reading…
Any of these names sound good to you: Nicolas Batum, Jordan Hill, Greg Stiemsma, Brandon Roy? That’s the shortish list of players that the Wolves are pursuing in free agency this summer. The team has reportedly offered Batum a four-year deal worth around $50 million, although Batum left Minneapolis yesterday without agreeing to a deal.
The wrinkle, of course, is that Batum is merely a restricted free agent, meaning that if Portland is dead set on retaining the lithe Frenchman, there’s not much the Wolves can do about it. On the other hand, as Jerry Zgoda points out, if Batum were committed enough to coming to Minnesota–and Portland were willing to part with him–the Wolves could conceivably land him in a sign-and-trade deal. But that’s all speculation for now.
I will say that, even if the Wolves’ do swing a deal for Pau Gasol, signing Batum would be, in my opinion, their only unequivocally great move of this off-season. Batum is a young, three-point shooting veteran with ridiculous athletic ability and alarmingly long arms. He can convincingly play a few different wing positions and has a Rubio-esque defensive impact: disrupting passing lanes; swallowing up penetrators; sowing general perimeter chaos. He’s a perfect fit for this team and fills a need that’s been aching for years now.
Kevin Love just signed a four year contract for $61 millon. So he isn’t to be pitied. However, I’d like to think we can still discuss our misgivings without someone doling out cliched quips regarding men being paid to play a kid’s game. Right?
Our Wolves have recently enjoyed national attention for the captivating play of their stars and not the bumbling ineptitude, which fair or not, has come to be synonymous with this franchise. Yet with the eyes of the basketball world upon us, we’ve managed once again to dampen the forecast of what should be a bright future by slighting our best player.
It can’t be repeated enough. We’ve made it out of the first round just once in our 23 year history. We’ve posted just 32 wins in our last two seasons. We are a small market, cold weather franchise with no prestige and little realistic hopes of championship contention. Kevin Love wanted to stay here anyway. For five years, the maximum allowed. Management offered him four with an option to leave in three. Why?
The answer would seem to be in the doe eyed media darling, Ricky Rubio. As we know, only one five year extension can be offered per team and if it isn’t for Love then we’re left to assume that it currently belongs to Rubio. Now while Kevin is surely happy to have Ricky as a teammate, he must also find this insulting on some level.
Regardless of the complications of his buyout, the fact remains that Rubio was initially hesitant to join us here in Minneapolis. It was clear to anyone who saw him cross that stage on draft night, who listened to his uncomfortable conference call shortly after or read his tepid quotes of freezing weather. Now considering the complications of his buyout, we still had to wait two years for his arrival, whether he was excited to be here or not. In that time, Kevin Love grew from a dubious draft pick into a superstar.
There were seven scenarios that could have played out with this Kevin Love contract extension apocalypse:
1. Kevin Love becomes the Wolves’ designated player, earning an extensions worth roughly $78 million over five years.
2. Kevin Love agrees to a four-year extension worth roughly $61 million.
3. Kevin Love agrees to a four-year extension worth roughly $61 million that includes an opt-out clause after three years.
4. Kevin Love waits until this summer to deal with his contract and accepts a max offer from the Wolves.
5. Kevin Love waits until this summer to deal with his contract, becomes a restricted free agent, signs with another team and the Wolves match the deal to retain his employment.
6. Kevin Loves accepts the qualifying offer of around $6.1 million this off-season, plays out next year as a T’Pup, and re-signs with the team after becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2013.
7. Kevin Loves accepts the qualifying offer of around $6.1 million this off-season, plays out next year as a T’Pup, and then leaves to sign with another team as an unrestricted free agent as we all curl up into the fetal position and mutter to ourselves, “there’s no place like Rasho… there’s no place like Rasho…”
Kevin Love and the Timberwolves opted with option #3. Is it the best option on the board? We have no idea and that’s why everybody seems to be freaking out about it. It leaves a certain level of uncertainty that we just can’t handle in this day of impatience.
It’s not news exactly, but Jerry Zgoda at the Strib has good information about the possibility of a contract extension for Kevin Love:
The NBA’s new labor agreement allows every team to designate one player coming off his rookie contract to whom it can offer a five-year, maximum salary contract extension. The team can offer raises in excess of 7 percent annually while all other teams can only offer four years and 4-plus percent raises…But in a market where big men Marc Gasol, Tyson Chandler and Nene just signed new contracts that will pay them between $13 million and $14 million per year, Love could receive a maximum contract that would pay him as much as $82 million over five years.
Or, put another way, $81,625,000 more than a person would need to be happy over that span of time. But as far as actual news as to what might happen come January 25th, the deadline for offering extensions to players like Love approaching the end of their rookie deals–not much to go on. When Love was asked whether he had decided whether he would seek a max extension, he replied, “Not really. I’m still thinking things through. It’s just going to depend on what they think is right and what me and my agent decide as well. We’ll look at the scenarios.” In other words, “please stop asking me about it because I won’t tell you anything anyway.”
So we don’t know what’s going to happen in a month from now. Which just means that we’ve got more time to chew on a problem we discussed some weeks back: just what is Kevin Love worth to an NBA basketball team? How much would you pay this guy?
According to reports (who have sources on sources on sources), the Wolves have signed Jose Juan Barea, formerly of the Dallas Mavericks, to a four-year, $19 million contract.
Not exactly going after DeAndre Jordan, right?
In fact, it’s the exact opposite of what I was hoping for the other day. The Wolves need a defensive, athletic big man in the worst way, and JJ Barea doesn’t bring any of that to the team. But they also need a perimeter player who can create quality shots for not only his teammates but also himself. Barea definitely brings that to this team.
Am I talking myself into JJ Barea even though I worried some team out there would overpay him to be their starting point guard? Absolutely, I am. However, I do think there is a lot of good that comes out of this signing. Let’s discuss a few points.
- The money. Four years and $19 million seems like a lot for a backup guard, right? Maybe it does. But it’s also a pretty manageable contract over the length of the deal. As of right now, the Wolves have roughly $58 million committed to the roster for 16 slots (once Malcolm Lee signs). That means they’ll have to amnesty (most likely) Martell Webster to get to the allowable 15 players under contract.
After this season, let’s assume Webster is gone with the amnesty and Brad Miller is waived because his $5.1 million deal is only guaranteed for $848,000. With Beasley’s free agency, Randolph’s restricted free agency, and Anthony Tolliver’s contract being up, that puts the Wolves around $31 million in committed salary. Factor in the cap holds for Anthony Randolph and the extension to Kevin Love (even if it’s – gulp! – max) and you’re still looking at around $10 million in cap space for the summer of 2012.
The only current deals that run past 2013 are Luke Ridnour, rookie deals, and this Barea contract. Throw in Kevin Love’s extension (please, Kevin) and there is still plenty of flexibility for a team that just gave $5 million per season to the third point guard on the roster.
- The fit. This is the biggest question for the Wolves. How does Barea fit into the plan moving forward if the keys are supposed to be in Rubio’s hands? Let me off this analogy for you.
Some football teams have grind it out, power running backs that are there to bully you for four yards every rushing play and try to beat down the opposing team’s defensive front. They’re big, burly and just powerful enough to feel like you’re tackling a train. It’s a pretty good strategy in this situation to have a speedy, small-statured running back as the backup to this locomotive of yards per carry. It’s a change of pace that can be difficult for the defense to adjust to on random downs, even if they know the bruiser is out of the game at the moment and they get to see the quick running back.
I know that you’re probably thinking that Rubio isn’t a bruiser. They want to push the pace with him and Barea won’t push the pace anywhere beyond that speed. But here’s where the change up is. Adelman’s system doesn’t involve a ton of pick-and-rolls. It’s a lot of movement, backdoor cutting, and high post-centered sets. Teams will be prepared for that and try to be cognizant of all set-ups to fake out the defense. However, when you bring Barea off the bench, you can automatically throw in a few wrinkles of pick-and-rolls and pick-and-pop action to catch the defense on their heels.
Barea is one of the best pick-and-roll ball handlers in the NBA. He was 14th in points per possession scored last season while running the pick-and-roll. He’s not the ideal passer in that situation. In fact, he often takes the shot. But efficient points are something this offense didn’t easily come by last season. He’s also a very good scorer in isolation sets. He ranked 14th there too in PPP, shooting exactly 50% from the field in those situations.
The question becomes, well don’t the Wolves already have a player in Luke Ridnour who is also very good in those situations? Yes, they do. Ridnour ranked 42nd and 41st in pick-and-roll ball handling and isolation situations, respectively. He’s also a much better spot-up shooter, making 49.3% of his spot-up 3-pointers compared to Barea’s 30.3%. Defensively, they were the exact same player, tying 188th in points per possession given up overall.
So is Barea’s moderate increase in efficiency when isolated and in pick-and-rolls that important to justify the signing? I would argue that it is. Barea is an annoying mosquito to the defense when he’s on fire. And while he can be frustrating on nights his effect on the game is minimal, his offensive outbursts can be momentarily suffocating to opposing teams when he’s on top of his game. You can’t really say the same about Luke. Aside from an exciting triple-double watch at the end of last season, Ridnour was always fairly steady but never that momentum changing when he wasn’t turning over the ball at a career-worst rate.
You can experiment playing Barea and Rubio together. I doubt it will even come close to working in the first two seasons, but it gives you options for creating havoc in the halfcourt that this team hasn’t had in a long time. It’s not a perfect signing, but it’s also not like we just signed the Darko version of a point guard to the roster either.
- Kahn point guard jokes. I love a good David Kahn joke as much as the next disgruntled Wolves fan, but the fact of the matter is this team doesn’t have a copious amount of point guards. They had two on the roster before the Barea signing and can use Malcolm Lee as a combo guard of sorts whenever they need to. But ultimately, Lee should be focused on filling the awkwardly vacant shooting guard spot on the floor for the Wolves.
A lot of NBA teams have three point guards on the roster. Yes, David Kahn “drafted three point guards” during his first draft for the franchise (even though Lawson was the Nuggets selection in order to complete the trade), but it’s much more with-the-times to make small forward or SF/PF tweener jokes about Kahn. Look at how many small forwards and 3/4 guys this team has. Forward-tweeners are the new point guards in Minnesota. Update your joke-making Rolodex, please.
Overall, I like the options that the Barea signing gives this team. I know there will be nights in which I will look back at my enthusiasm from this post and probably realize I was just happy the contract wasn’t for $30 million as I’m cursing his name during cold stretches. But there will also be nights in which this looks like a beautiful addition to the team as he and Kevin Love are surgically destroying the opposing team’s halfcourt defense.
Our beloved Timberwolves are back in the saddle/Iditarod sled of shaping the roster and preparing for another hopeful season. And while it seems like this team is set with 13 players under contract and still two rookies (Derrick Williams and Malcolm Lee), the T’Pups remain heavily involved in the free agent sweepstakes. From what we’ve learned through various scribes (Zgoda, Spears, Stein, etc.) players like Jamal Crawford, DeAndre Jordan and Chuck Hayes are all being pursued like a canine chasing a rogue ice cream truck.
The shooting guard position for the Wolves is pretty weak. Between Wayne Ellington’s Wayne Ellington-ness, Wes Johnson’s inability to handle the ball or create off the dribble well enough to be a true shooting guard in Rick Adelman’s offense, and Martell Webster being slightly more adept at covering Wes’ offensive deficiencies, the Wolves could really use a shooting guard who can put the ball on the floor and create scoring opportunities in the halfcourt offense.
(Let’s just pretend Malcolm Lee will be brought around slowly, but I love his game and think he could eventually be an option for playing major minutes.)
Jamal Crawford does that and then some. He’s one of the best scoring 2-guards in the league. It may not be the most efficient brand of basketball. It may not be a consistent output when his shot isn’t falling. But he knows how to put the ball in the basket. Two seasons ago, Crawford had a career year, despite coming off the bench exclusively for the Hawks. He scored 18 points per game, had a true shooting percentage of 57.3%, and had the lowest turnover rate of his career at 9.9%. He was as efficient as ever. Crawford is also a human highlight reel waiting to happen.
But last year his productivity with the Hawks took a pretty dramatic dip. He wasn’t the consistent scoring threat the team saw the previous season. His shooting percentage was back toward his career rate, he was a below average 3-point shooter and he was turning the ball over a lot more while being involved less in the offense. When taking into consideration the idea of giving him a four-year contract, he’s going to be starting his twelfth season in the NBA and he’ll be 32 in March.
While it’s pretty obvious that Jamal Crawford is the sexier name of the free agent options, if the Wolves are going to find a way to work one of these guys into a pretty full roster then they need to make a concerted effort to sign DeAndre Jordan.
For lack of a better term, DeAndre Jordan was a bit spastic with the way he played his first two seasons. It was all dunks from accidentally being in the right place at the right time. He also seemed to be everywhere on defense but never in the right place. When he was around a shot, he usually tossed it in the other direction. He was active and showed determination to figure it out, but it was more awkward than anything.
However, last season DAJ broke out in a mini-spotlight next to Blake Griffin’s Epcot spotlight. He was defensively one of the best big men in the entire NBA from an individual standpoint. Jordan didn’t really have a defensive flaw last year. He played the post well, he rotated well, he played the PnR well, and he closed out on shooters well. While there were times that he was slow to see the play develop, after the first couple months of the season he was able to see things unfolding and respond quickly to it. If he has any real weakness defensively, it’s that he hasn’t completely filled out his lanky, broad frame. He could still stand to put on a few pounds of muscle while keeping his freakish athleticism.
In fact, freakish athleticism isn’t a term that does DAJ justice. When you watch him move around the court, he almost appears to be teleporting. He seems to instantly travel 10 feet at a time with his long strides. This helps him immensely when running pick-and-rolls with his point guard. As soon as he seals on the pick and turns his hips toward the basket, he’s already four-feet from where the screen was set. One step later, he’s gathered his balance and is exploding for the alley-oop.
Jordan was third in the NBA in dunks last season. Of his 234 made field goals, 158 of them were dunks. 205 of his 234 made field goals were at the rim and he only took eight shots beyond 10 feet (making none of them). This may seem like he’s extremely limited offensively, and maybe he is. But he also doesn’t try to do a whole lot on offense that isn’t in his skill set. You won’t see him posting up a lot and hold the ball on the block for long stretches of the shot clock. He knows his limitations.
The problem with acquiring DeAndre Jordan is he already turned down a five-year, $40 million deal from the Clippers and he’s a restricted free agent. With the stunning result of the Clippers already signing Caron Butler for three years and $24 million, they’re showing they’re willing to overpay players right now. With DAJ being one of Blake Griffin’s best friends, it seems they would match whatever it takes to keep this duo together.
The Wolves have roughly $5 million in cap space and 15 players under contract after they presumably sign Derrick Williams and Malcolm Lee. That doesn’t leave a lot of room to make something happen for Jordan, when he’s looking for eight figures on his contract and you have to push that to around $12 million or higher to make the Clippers blink at matching the deal. To make this happen, the Wolves would need to drop the amnesty hammer on one of their guy or trade one of the bigger contracts.
The problem is we don’t have big contracts to get rid of. Some people would say to amnesty Darko, but he’s only making $4.7 million this season and the Wolves need depth in the frontcourt. You could amnesty Brad Miller since he’s not really going to be able to contribute much after his knee injury anyway, but he makes roughly the same amount as Darko and could be a great mentor for young guys learning Adelman’s system.
So is the answer to deal Michael Beasley? Do we amnesty Martell Webster? Webster makes the second most on the team with $5.2 million hitting the salary cap. The Wolves wouldn’t be saving any money long-term because his salary for next season is only guaranteed for about $600,000 against the cap. They’d also be losing one of their few options at shooting guard.
With Beasley, it would free up a presumed headache within the organization (that could easily be saved and become an All-Star but that’s a conversation for another time), a logjam at the small forward, and about $6.2 million. That gives the Wolves a starting price tag of $11.2 million for Jordan. Would that price tag and acquiring Beasley in a sign-and-trade coupled with the suffocating guilt possessing the Wolves’ 2012 first round pick be enough for the Clippers to accept the deal?
This would be the best-case scenario for the Wolves in many ways. You free up a potential distraction by moving Beasley – as fair or unfair as that may sound. It would give the Wolves a fantastic, young interior presence around the rim on both ends of the court, and even if he doesn’t improve much past what we see now, four years and $44 million of this DAJ isn’t a bad thing at all. It’s not the best bang for your buck, but there are worse contracts for big men to have.
If it plays out this way, we’d be looking at a potential depth chart of:
PG: Ricky Rubio, Luke Ridnour
Wing: Martell Webster, Wayne Ellington, Malcolm Lee
Wing: Derrick Williams, Wes Johnson, Lazar Hayward
Post: Kevin Love, Anthony Randolph, Anthony Tolliver
Post: DeAndre Jordan, Darko Milicic, Nikola Pekovic, Brad Miller
There are a lot of options and versatility that comes with that depth chart. Sure, it leaves the Wolves pretty outmanned at the shooting guard position, and perimeter scoring would be a bit lacking. But Rick Adelman’s offense is designed to get different parts moving and having the ball swung to find them. This works out well for a young, athletic team like the Wolves.
It would be nice to acquire someone like Crawford or Arron Afflalo (also a restricted agent), but their asking price might be more than the Wolves should have to fork over to acquire them. I’d much rather put the money toward improving the middle of the paint and building outward.
Finally, Wolves have been in talks with Chuck Hayes as I mentioned above. Hayes is one of the best post defenders in the NBA, despite being just 6’6” soaking wet. He’s also a fantastic passer from the post and high-post. But I don’t know he’s exactly what the Wolves need, especially if they have a chance at an athletic big man like Jordan. And he’s fixed his free throw stroke so we wouldn’t get to live this roller coaster very often.