Greg Stiemsma was hours away from not becoming a Minnesota Timberwolf. Earlier today Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported, “Stiemsma’s agent suggests that preferred status & hometown discount will disappear if no offer made today.” Luckily Wolves Nation was not forced to witness another rumored player with ties to the team slip away. After seeing Courtney Lee and Jordan Hill both sign new deals in the past two days, Wolves fans can breathe easier knowing at least a backup center to replace Darko Milicic is all but assured.
Stiemsma is a restricted free agent so there will be some time before his contract is finalized and made public. However, it is widely known that the Celtics will not be able to match the Wolves offer, only able to offer him the bi-annual exception of $2 million. The Wolves’ reported deal is thought to be for $2.5-3 million annually according to Zgoda. Furthermore, it was recently announced that the Celtics have signed Jason Collins of the Atlanta Hawks to fill Stiemsma’s role, as reported by Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald.
Yesterday an undeclared team was announced to be in competition with the Wolves for Stiemsma according to Zgoda. Many speculated this team may be the Portland Trailblazers due to the recent feuding between the two teams during Batum contract negotiations. We will never know which other team (if any) favored Stiemsma, but one thing is for sure–Stiemsma wanted to be a Wolf. Stiemsma’s agent, Mike Naiditch did not shy away from exclaiming, “Minnesota is always where Greg wanted to be.”
Stiemsma actually signed his first NBA contract with the Timberwolves in April 2010, though he never actually played a game for the team. His departure has been short lived and Stiemsma will now return to his original team and neighbor state (he is originally from Randolph, Wisconsin). The official contract will reveal just how much of a hometown discount was offered to the Wolves by the Midwest native.
With Stiemsma’s fateful story now told, let us take a look at what he can offer the Wolves. Besides filling the large void as a backup for Center Nikola Pekovic, Stiemsma actually brings some key skills to the Wolves’ bench. According to basketball-reference.com, Stiemsma averaged 8.3 rebounds, 55 FG% and 4 blocks per 36 minutes. His reputation now revolves largely around his shot blocking skills as shown by his 6 blocks off the bench in his NBA debut with the Celtics.
One thing to look out for will be Stiemsma’s case of plantar fasciitis in his left foot; the condition kept him off of the USA Olympics select team. However, he is expected to be available for training camp and the injury will be closely watched by Wolves’ training staff. For now let us rejoice that Stiemsma did not fall into the hands of another team leaving the Wolves with Ronny Turiaf as the next best option. Stiemsma has room to grow and improve, an opportunity the Wolves will grant, and perhaps more importantly, one he seems excited to embrace.