• Two sources have now surfaced expressing the Wolves’ interest in free agent forward Luol Deng.

    Marc Stein of the New York Times was first to report on the team’s interest in Deng, stating that they’ve “launched their planned pursuit” earlier today.

    Shams Charania of the Athletic later added that the two sides will meet “within the next week” and discuss a potential deal.

    President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Tom Thibodeau hasn’t been coy about his desire for veteran leadership and he’s typically gone back to his Chicago days for answers.

    Deng was waived and eventually bought-out by the Lakers two years into a four-year $72 million contract. He played in 57 games during his stint in Los Angeles, including just one lone game last season. A double-figure scorer for 12 consecutive seasons to begin his career, he averaged just 7.5 the last two years.

    Deng was at his peak when playing under Thibs, which included his two All-Star appearances, but that was four years ago. Now at age 33 it’s fair to wonder just how much is left in the tank after a number of grinding seasons in Chicago. Before Jimmy Butler became Thibodeau’s horse, it was Deng that held the honor.

    The two sides showing interest in one another isn’t shocking. Among all of Deng’s possible options on the market, his rapport with Thibs and path to playing time may be easier to see in Minnesota. He still has a strong desire to play too, as seen by the $7.5 million he agreed to gave back to the Lakers when he could have just rode out the final two years of his contract on the bench (Ramona Shelburne of ESPN outlines his buyout here). It’s likely just a matter of filing paperwork at this point.


    UPDATE:

    After first showing mutual interest last week, the two sides have now come to a contract agreement according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

    Shams Charania reports that the deal will be worth $2.4 million over one year. With his buyout from the Lakers, Deng sacrificed more than $5 million to have a chance to play this season, and he gets to do so with his former coach in what should feel like a familiar environment.

    His fit at this time remains unclear. He’s spent the majority of the last two seasons parked on the bench in Los Angeles after some misguided management issues, so perhaps he’s as fresh as he’s ever been, but it remains to be seen what he can still provide on the court. Deng could provide minutes at the three and the four, depending on matchups, allowing the Wolves to have some versatility if they want to play big or a bit smaller. He could also provide good leadership off the bench and ideally work closely with the young players.

    The player who takes the biggest hit is probably rookie Keita Bates-Diop, although realistically Thibs wasn’t going to give him major minutes anyway. This also could be bad new for sharpshooting wing James Nunnally, who signed a non-guaranteed deal with the Wolves last month. His spot on the roster could be in jeopardy if the Wolves creep over the tax by adding any additional players (Joakim Noah might be out there soon). They are currently $1.36 million under the tax line.

    Make no mistake, Thibs didn’t sign Deng to only act as a second coach and leader. He will get minutes at the expense of the younger players on the roster, at least to open the season, and he’d be first in line should Andrew Wiggins or Jimmy Butler have to miss any time. As of now he’s probably slotted in next to Derrick Rose and Anthony Tolliver (and hopefully Tyus Jones) as the main contributors off the bench.

    The signing is unsurprising, though the fit is still a question mark.


    Update:

    The Timberwolves have confirmed the signing.

Fantasy News

  • Kawhi Leonard
    SF, Los Angeles Clippers

    Kawhi Leonard checked in for Thursday's preseason finale against the Mavs and put up 13 points, three rebounds, four steals and two 3-pointers in 22 minutes.

    Leonard took full advantage of some sloppy play from Luka Doncic to help make up for his poor 5-of-19 shooting performance. Kawhi's inching up closer to the middle points of the first round in fantasy drafts, and where you select him depends entirely on your tolerance for potential nights off.

  • Landry Shamet
    SG, Los Angeles Clippers

    Despite 37 minutes in Thursday's preseason game, Landry Shamet finished with five points, two rebounds, two assists, two steals, a 3-pointer and a 2-of-10 shooting line.

    The Clippers look prepared to give Shamet major minutes this season on the wing and at point guard, but his preseason play has been lackluster. We're going to chalk this up to a weirdly-timed slump and continue drafting Shamet in the later rounds of all drafts.

  • Patrick Beverley
    PG, Los Angeles Clippers

    Patrick Beverley (calf) and Lou Williams (rest) sat out of Thursday's preseason game with the Mavs.

    No need for the Clippers, who figure to do lots of load managing, to force either of their vets through a meaningless game. Beverley's calf injury is suspected to be minor but we'll keep an eye on it as the season approaches.

  • Justin Jackson
    SF, Dallas Mavericks

    Justin Jackson notched 18 points off the bench in Thursday's 102-87 win over the Clippers, adding six rebounds and three triples to round out his game.

    Jackson ends his preseason on a strong note and it looks like he'll hold a solid rotation role for Dallas, and may even start if the forward core suffers injuries. That said, he's always been a weak fantasy play and would need immense volume to change anyone's mind.

  • Moses Brown
    C, Portland Trail Blazers

    The Blazers have converted Moses Brown's training camp deal into a two-way contract.

    It's a nice climb for Brown, who went undrafted out of UCLA. Portland's center depth could be tested if Hassan Whiteside misses time because of his sprained ankle but we'd be surprised if Brown saw much action at the NBA level this year.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Dorian Finney-Smith
    SF, Dallas Mavericks

    Neither Dorian Finney-Smith (hip flexor) nor Seth Curry (right knee contusion) played in Thursday's preseason finale.

    There's no reason for the Mavs to push either player through this, though we'll keep an eye out for updates before the real games begin. Both figure to be important reserves and should be able to deliver top-250 value in fantasy, if that means anything to you.

  • Kristaps Porzingis
    PF-C, Dallas Mavericks

    Kristaps Porzingis needed only 23 minutes to produce 18 points, 13 rebounds, a block and a 3-pointer in Thursday's preseason win over the Clippers.

    Luka Doncic, not to be outdone, added 13 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and four 3-pointers of his own, though nine turnovers were pretty ugly. It wasn't always pretty but it's obvious that this young dynamic duo will threaten early-round value for as long as they're on the court. How much they're on the court, Porzingis is particular, is the question.

  • Delon Wright
    PG, Dallas Mavericks

    Delon Wright put a fitting end to a quiet preseason on Thursday, scoring six points with three rebounds, two assists and two 3-pointers in 22 minutes of action.

    Wright was looking like a major breakout candidate but a poor preseason looks to have took some wind out of his sails. We still believe in his ability to rack up defensive stats out of a guard spot and his solid middle-round upside, so Wright's still worth a look sometime after pick No. 80.

  • Jalen Brunson
    PG, Dallas Mavericks

    Jalen Brunson (sore left hamstring) posted six points, five rebounds, seven assists and a steal in 15 minutes on Thursday night.

    Brunson started next to Delon Wright, which is something to remember in case the Mavs deal with injuries that force them to reshuffle the starting five during the year. He's only a deep-league option but did have some stints of relevance last season, so he's not someone to completely write off if injuries strike.

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo
    PF, Milwaukee Bucks

    Giannis Antetokounmpo blitzed the Wolves in Thursday's preseason win, racking up 26 points, 14 rebounds, two steals, three blocks and a 3-pointer in 27 minutes of work.

    It's safe to say Giannis is ready for the regular season and is locked in as a top-5 pick in all formats. He went 9-of-15 from the field and a solid 7-of-9 from the line, and if that kept up all season fantasy players would be overjoyed. There's not much else to take from this one. Khris Middleton also had a good game with 18 points and seven assists.