September 5, 2018, 2:13 pm
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.
The Wolves have launched their planned pursuit of @LuolDeng9, league sources say, after the veteran forward became a free agent by clearing waivers earlier this week
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) September 5, 2018
Shams Charania of the Athletic later added that the two sides will meet “within the next week” and discuss a potential deal.
Sources: Free agent Luol Deng will meet with the Minnesota Timberwolves within the next week as sides discuss potential deal.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 5, 2018
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.
After first showing mutual interest last week, the two sides have now come to a contract agreement according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Free agent forward Luol Deng met with Minnesota president/coach Tom Thibodeau today and sides are finalizing a one-year deal, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 10, 2018
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.
The Timberwolves have confirmed the signing.
#Twolves officially announce the team has signed forward Luol Deng. Per team policy, terms of the agreement were not released. A 14-year NBA veteran, Deng has appeared in 880 career games (826 starts) over 14 seasons with Chicago, Miami, Cleveland and L.A. Lakers. pic.twitter.com/Du35WbB7pC
— Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) September 10, 2018
September 21, 2018, 10:29 pmGorgui Dieng - C - Minnesota Timberwolves
ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported that league sources indicate that the Timberwolves prefer to package Jimmy Butler with Gorgui Dieng and the $48 million he’s owed over the next three years.
Dieng was routinely pulling in top-60 value in 9-cat before Taj Gibson vame to town so a trade to a better situation might do him some good. We’re sure there will be a lot more updates on the Jimmy Butler situation so stay tuned.
September 21, 2018, 9:12 pmTyler Ulis - G - Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors have signed Tyler Ulis to an Exhibit 10 deal according to Anthony Slater at The Althletic.
ESPN’s Marc J. Spears also reported that Ulis chose the Warriors over the Rockets and the Kings. Ulis will get to join the team for training camp and the Exhibit 10 deal offers a little more protection from the Warriors’ end, but it’s hard to see how Ulis will fit in their plans. If he sticks, he won’t have any fantasy value barring an injury, and if he ends up getting waived we’ll have to see if he signs with the Dubbs’ G-League squad or pursues other opportunities.
Source: Anthony Slater on Twitter
September 21, 2018, 8:39 pmEmeka Okafor - C - Philadelphia Sixers
The Philadelphia Sixers have signed Emeka Okafor to a training camp deal one day before the start of camp.
Even if the ancient Okafor manages to stick on the roster, he shouldn’t be anything more than a veteran presence.
September 21, 2018, 7:38 pmBogdan Bogdanovic - G - Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings have announced that Bogdan Bogdanovic will have an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee on Monday.
There was no time-table given but these usually have a recovery of 4-to-6 weeks. There should be an update after the surgery on Monday but it looks like Bogi will miss the beginning of the season. As we previously reported, this is the same left knee that he had surgery on earlier this summer to repair a slight medial meniscus tear. Two surgeries in the span of a few months doesn't sound good and this'll be a big red flag come draft time. It's good news for Buddy Hield however.
Source: Marc J Spears on Twitter
September 21, 2018, 7:27 pmJimmy Butler - G - Minnesota Timberwolves
Woj is reporting that despite rebuffs from Minnesota’s front office regarding Jimmy Butler, owner Glen Taylor informed participants of the NBA’s Board of Governors meeting that Butler is indeed available and that they should contact him personally if necessary.
Wow. It looks like things are escalating behind the scenes with Taylor and Thibodeau issuing opposing directives regarding disgruntled Jimmy Butler. It seems like Butler is close to being moved and Thibs could be next to follow him out the door.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
September 21, 2018, 5:36 pmDeAnthony Melton - G - Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns have signed newly obtained De’Anthony Melton to a two-year, $2.3 million rookie deal.
The Suns obtained Melton from the Rockets for Ryan Anderson and Brandon Knight earlier this summer so this signing was always going to happen at some point. With Devin Booker (hand) probably out to start the season and not a whole lot of options to start at point guard, Melton could be a nice surprise. We’ll have to see what the preseason brings.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
September 21, 2018, 5:28 pmAdam Silver - Commissioner - Invalid Team
The NBA’s Board of Governors has approved three changes to the rule book for this season dealing with resetting the shot-clock on an offensive rebound, simplifying the clear path rules and expanding the definition of a “hostile act.”
The first tweak is that the shot-clock will reset reset to 14 seconds after an offensive rebound instead of the usual 24 seconds. The second change is to the clear-path rule- now, it is defined as a personal foul against any offensive player during his team’s transition scoring opportunity so refs won’t have to determine if the defender was in front of the ball or not, or if the defender beat the offensive player to the frontcourt. The last chance will be expanding the definition of a “hostile act” to allow for additional replay for off-ball or other altercations.
Source: NBC Sports
September 21, 2018, 4:54 pmMarkelle Fultz - G - Philadelphia Sixers
Markelle Fultz denied having the “yips” last season and said his struggles shooting the ball were due to his shoulder injury.
This is the opposite of what shooting guru Drew Hanlen said over the summer when he asserted that Fultz had the “yips” and “completely forgot how to shoot.” We’re thinking as a young player, Fultz probably wants to protect his ego and maybe his image- despite recent headway made in the NBA dealing with mental health issues, nobody wants to admit to being psychologically ‘soft.’ At this stage it’s rather irrelevant as to why; we just want to see if Fultz can shoot it or not. Preseason games start soon and we’ll have the popcorn ready.
September 21, 2018, 4:42 pmJimmy Butler - G - Minnesota Timberwolves
According to Jon Krawczynski at The Athletic, Jimmy Butler might not show up to training camp if he isn't traded.
We previously relayed Woj's report that the Wolves were not planning to trade Butler so it looks like both parties are ratcheting up their rhetoric before the season starts. Butler is a notoriously stubborn guy as is coach Thibs so we'll see who wins this head-butting battle. The writing's on the wall for Butler's time in Minnesota, so it's only a matter of when. Tom Thibodeau could be following him out the door as owner Glenn Taylor has been dissatisfied with his old-school tactics.
Source: The Athletic
September 21, 2018, 4:36 pmCarmelo Anthony - F - Houston Rockets
Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said he wants wants Carmelo Anthony on the floor when P.J. Tucker is off, and vice versa because he sees them both as power forwards.
It was widely assumed that Melo and Tucker would start together but now it appear to not be the case so maybe James Ennis is the starter at the 3. We’ll have to see how his rotation shakes out and if Melo’s staggered minutes coincide with Chris Paul’s. Either way, Melo looks to have a decreased role on offense as James Harden and Chris Paul control the offense.
Source: Kelly Iko on Twitter