It is being reported in multiple places, including NBA.com, that the Timberwolves will allow Lazar Hayward’s 10-day contract to expire in lieu of the signing of Frenchman Mickael Gelabale to a 10-day contract of his own. The signing has been rumored for nearly a month, and the following is what I wrote about him on Christmas:
Mickael Gelabale – Not exactly a household name, but count me as intrigued. According to ESPN 1500’s Darren Wolfson, Gelable’s agent contacted the Wolves about him wanting to play here, and according to some folks, the feeling is mutual among Wolves’ brass. Of course, he has also allegedly contacted all 30 teams. Gelabale was a 2005 second-round draft pick of the Seattle SuperSonics, and the Frenchman played two seasons in Seattle before logging 16 games in the D-League and heading back overseas. He has played well in Europe and was solid for France’s Olympic team in London over the summer, and the consensus is that he is a long, tall (6’-7”), athletic defender that can hit an open three pointer when needed. He has little-to-no offense skills as far as creating a shot or getting to the basket, but he appears to be able to catch an alley-oop, play good defense, and shoot at a respectable clip from beyond the arc. My take: Assuming a non-guaranteed contract will do it….sure, why not? Gelabale seems to be the exact player the Wolves could use to spot Kirilenko on the defensive end of the floor for the time being, and be a solid 10-12th man off the bench down the stretch, filling in for Budinger at the small forward position for 5-7 minutes a game when needed. He does have an NBA opt-out that must be activated between January 1st and 30th, so that seems to fit Kahn’s announced time frame for signing a player.
For what it’s worth, I also advised against signing Hayward, and ranked my preferences in order as James Anderson (now with Houston), Gelable, and Michael Redd (still a free agent). Gelable should be a solidly league-average player for the Wolves, and will be decidedly better than the useless Hayward.
I am completely on board with this move, but unfortunately, it appears to be about as good as the Wolves can do as far as improving the depth on the roster at this point in time. In a trade, you have to give something to get something. The Wolves simply don’t have anyone that is healthy that they can afford to trade. There are ten players that are currently seeing the court: Ridnour, Barea, Rubio, Shved, Kirilenko, Williams, Pekovic, Cunningham, Stiemsma, Amundson. Shved and Rubio will certainly not be traded. Pekovic, Cunningham, and Kirilenko would only be dealt in a blockbuster. Stiemsma and Amundson have little to no value on the trade market.
That leaves Ridnour, Barea, and Williams, all who have been involved in various trade rumors over the past year. Of course, it is hard to trade one of your two relatively healthy point guards, especially while Rubio is still playing under a minutes limit. Williams is playing critical minutes right now with Love out for the next two months. There simply aren’t enough healthy bodies on the roster to swing a trade that both a) improves the team and b) leaves the team with enough players.
Realistically, it is going to be exceedingly difficult for the Wolves to make the playoffs this season. According to ESPN’s Playoff Odds, they only have a 7.3% chance, although I would bump that up closer to 20%. The equation obviously does not take into account any players returning from injury, or Rubio’s expected improvement moving forward. I certainly would not bet on it at this point, but if they can halt this skid and get back to .500, they still have a shot.
The Wolves need to be careful to not mortgage too much of the future just to eke into the playoffs and get bounced quickly by San Antonio, Oklahoma City, or Los Angeles. On the other hand, the Wolves need to be open to taking advantage of any move that could assist them in weathering the continuous injury storm, as any hope of the playoffs could be gone before reinforcements ever arrive if they simply stand pat. But most of the current team should be back next year, so here’s hoping that the front office does not overreact.