The Wolves missed out on another coveted free agent yesterday as the Boston Celtics acquired shooting guard Courtney Lee in a sign and trade deal with the Houston Rockets. The reported deal is valued at $21.5 million over four years, per Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports. Many speculated that Lee would be the Wolves’ plan B after the Portland Trailblazers decided to match their offer for restricted free agent Nicolas Batum. Interestingly enough, the Lee deal was at one point threatened due to financial restrictions of the Celtics until the Blazers agreed to accept a second round pick and Sasha Palvovic’s contract.
The Wolves have now placed themselves in a difficult position forced to make up for the losses of Batum and Lee. The free agents still available simply do not rival the talent of either player. David Kahn, General Manager of the Timberwolves, may now turn his attention to shooting guard, Ronnie Brewer or use their remaining cap space ($14-16 million) to sign backup centers such as Jordan Hill or Greg Stiemsma. Other possible solutions as wing replacements include sophomore forward Jon Leuer, forward Carl Landry and restricted free agent Brandon Rush. The Wolves may look to sign Leuer as soon as he clears waivers tomorrow as other teams under the cap including the Phoneix Suns and New Orleans Hornets have been rumored to pursue him, according to the Pioneer Press. Leuer grew up in Long Lake which may prove to be an advantage as the Wolves compete to secure his talents.
Those hoping the Wolves may still target Andre Igoudala or Rudy Gay should temper their expectations. Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune states the Wolves have been reluctant to take on Igoudala’s $15 million/per year salary. With the need to still sign a backup big after the amnesty of Darko Milicic this makes an Igoudala trade even less likely.
I wrote in an article last week that the Wolves long drawn out pursuit of Batum may risk the movement of players like Lee, Hill and Stiemsma. While still undetermined if they will land either center, the Wolve’s current predicament should highlight Kahn’s poor and untimely waiving of Martell Webster contract and the amnestying of Milicic. Significant time and possibly loyalty of players like Lee could have been salvaged had the offer to Batum been submitted to the league office before last Sunday.
While Brewer, Landry, Rush, Stiemsma and Hill may prove to be valuable acquisitions none of their signings are guaranteed, potentially placing the Wolves in an ever more dangerous scenario. The need for Roy and Shved to become versatile/star guards has become more important than ever. We should all wish that the current gaping holes in the Wolves’ roster continue to be filled rather than grow.
Update: Jon Leuer has been claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Cavaliers according to Zach Lowe of Sports Illustrated