The Minnesota Timberwolves still have two open roster spots remaining, and they are hosting workouts for a handful of NBA veterans throughout the week.
For as much attention is being paid to Minnesota Timberwolves’ head coach and front office boss Tom Thibodeau’s apparent infatuation with bringing in as many former Chicago Bulls players as possible, the Wolves are apparently at least doing their due diligence with a handful of other remaining veteran free agents.
It is, of course, entirely fair to react to the most recent rumors surround Luol Deng (who is a free agent) and the Knicks’ Joakim Noah (who is not) with some combination of “here we go again” and jokes about refusing to think outside the box.
TimberBulls jokes are finally getting old, but it’s hard to fault folks for thinking that things will end up with a lineup that looks more like the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals Bulls squad than any team that should be taking the floor in 2018.
The Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson acquisitions could be explained away by the fact that Butler is a perennial All-Star in the prime of his career and Gibson a solid starter, but things started to get away from Thibs when the Derrick Rose rumors surfaced and then resurfaced until they finally came to fruition this past spring.
All that said, Thibodeau and general manager Scott Layden are reportedly at least considering some fairly recognizable names.
Talk about a who’s who of veteran wing players when it comes to the first week of September!
Coincidentally, yours truly listed Brewer and Afflalo as tied for 10th on the list of wings the Wolves could pursue this summer. (Young did not make the list.)
You’ll recall that the Wolves were aggressive in their pursuit of Young last summer before he ultimately chose the Golden State Warriors and Jamal Crawford ended up in Minnesota. The Wolves reportedly “kicked the tires” on Swaggy P earlier this summer as well.
Young would provide a lot of what Crawford did for last year’s squad: high-usage, relatively inefficient scoring off the bench with above-average 3-point shooting and poor defense.
The Wolves improved by getting out from underneath Crawford this summer and, at least to this point, replacing his minutes with some combination of rookie Josh Okogie, James Nunnally, and Rose. It would seem unnecessary to bring in Young, who is coming off his lowest minutes-per-game average since his rookie year back in 2007-08.
Brewer would be on his third tour of the Wolves if he were to sign in Minnesota. He was their lottery pick the same summer that Kevin Garnett was traded, and was shipped away by David Kahn in the three-team deal that brought Wolves legend Darko Milicic to town in 2011.
Brewer returned in 2013, signing on to the final Rick Adelman-Kevin Love squad that won 40 games in 2013-14 and narrowly missed the playoffs. He was then sent to Houston midseason the following year as Flip Saunders’ Love-less team stumbled to 16 wins.
Since then, Brewer has played for Houston and the Lakers before finishing last season as a starter on the Oklahoma City Thunder team that lost in six games in the first round of the playoffs to Utah.
Brewer is now 32 years old and remains a strangely decent player. He never figured out how to consistently make 3-pointers, although he hit a shocking 38.9 percent of corner threes in 18 games for the Thunder down the stretch last year.
That said, he’s still a serviceable wing defender and is potent in the open floor. It’s unclear what role he’d play on this year’s Wolves team, but I think I speak for all Timberwolves fans when I say that the fanbase needs a third tour of Brew.
Afflalo has had one of the more precipitous declines from a once-productive player in recent memory.
There was a period of time only about five years ago that Afflalo was considered a borderline top-five shooting guard in the league. He averaged 15.2 points per game for Denver in 2011-12 and was traded to Orlando as part of the Dwight Howard-Andrew Bynum-centric, four-team blockbuster trade that summer.
In his first year with the Magic, he averaged a career-high 18.2 points per game for a bad Orlando team and saw his defense take a step backwards. That was his only his age-27 season, but things have only gone downhill from there.
Afflalo spent two years in Orlando, and then headed back to Denver for a half season. The rest of that season came in Portland, and then a year each with the Knicks, Kings, and back to the Magic last year.
Wolves fans may remember the elbow he threw at the neck of the now-departed Nemanja Bjelica last season. It was probably the highlight of Arron’s year, as he played a career-low in minutes and averaged a career-low 3.4 points per game, finding himself virtually out of the rotation by spring.
Afflalo is still a 38.6 percent career 3-point shooter, but beyond that skill, there isn’t much to write home about.
All things considered, these would all be decent depth additions. Young would probably represent the greatest risk, Brewer would bring the most joy and energy, and Afflalo the best steady shooting. But only Brewer is a playable defender at this stage, and that should factor into the Wolves’ decision.
It will be interesting to see who, if any of these three, Minnesota ends up with. Remember, there are two spots open, and Luol Deng is still out there…