Jordan McLaughlin remains a free agent, and the Minnesota Timberwolves are still weighing adding him to the roster. Plus, notes on Ricky Rubio’s return.
After a flurry of activity over the past week, the Minnesota Timberwolves only have one roster spot remaining.
Gone are James Johnson, Kelan Martin, Omari Spellman, and Jacob Evans. Enter Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels, Ricky Rubio, and Ed Davis. Add in Evan Turner’s expiring deal, and the Wolves have one roster spot remaining.
There is one remaining free agent from the 2019-20 Timberwolves that remains unsigned with a possible future back in Minnesota. And the Wolves are reportedly in talks to bring him back.
Will the Minnesota Timberwolves re-sign guard Jordan McLaughlin?
The Wolves have two starting-caliber point guards in D’Angelo Russell and the newly-acquired Rubio. But they’re going to share the backcourt a fair amount and may even start together while rookie and No. 1 draft pick Anthony Edwards acclimates to the NBA game in what will surely be a whirlwind month-plus for the 19-year-old.
There aren’t any other point guards on the roster. Two-way signee Ashton Hagans is a 6-foot-5 point guard but struggled mightily down the stretch at the University of Kentucky last season and is a defensive-minded developmental project.
At the moment, Jarrett Culver is likely the de facto third-string point guard. He ran the offense at times last season but with largely disappointing results.
Teams who expect to contend for a playoff spot must not only have an emergency backup point guard, but someone who can comfortably run a team for 10 to 12 minutes a game if/when injuries or foul trouble crop up.
The Wolves finally have some wing depth, and the acquisition of Ed Davis gave the team some much-needed beef in the frontcourt. That leaves point guard as the most glaring roster imbalance.
According to Chris Hine of the Star Tribune, “talks are ongoing” between McLaughlin’s representatives and the Timberwolves front office.
McLaughlin probably deserves a shot at a primary backup role with an NBA team, but a third-string role on this team will probably see the court a decent amount, depending on how much head coach Ryan Saunders plans to run with Russell and Rubio on the floor together.
The Wolves are understandably interested in bringing McLaughlin back to eat up those minutes. Here’s part of what yours truly wrote over the summer when considering a Russell-McLaughlin backcourt pairing.
Perhaps most encouraging was McLaughlin’s ability to beat his defenders off the dribble and actually score at the rim with efficiency. More than 36 percent of McLaughlin’s shot attempts came at the rim, and he shot 64.6 percent within three feet of the basket. His free throw rate was just .219, but he was impressive in finishing around and through contact.
Russell shot 39.1 percent on catch-and-shoot threes last season. McLaughlin shot 45.5 percent, albeit on a relatively small sample size.
If McLaughlin finds an opportunity elsewhere, look for the Wolves to aim at filling the final roster spot with a well-traveled veteran who can provide some stability in an emergency-type situation.
Ricky Rubio gives interview regarding return to the Minnesota Timberwolves
Elsewhere, the fantastic Jon Krawczynski at The Athletic scored an exclusive interview with Rubio regarding his return to the Minnesota Timberwolves (subscription required).
The article is a phone conversation with Rubio, who is currently back home in Barcelona preparing to return to the United States. Rubio sounds excited and hopeful that playing for Ryan Saunders and with dynamic players such as Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns will allow him to assist in bringing the Wolves back to the playoffs.
Jon does a great job at putting his finger on the pulse of the Twin Cities and the Wolves fanbase and the collective connection to the Spaniard. The other connections for Rubio and this Wolves teams are numerous: fellow countryman Juancho Hernangomez has re-signed, Rubio played against assistant coach Pablo Prigioni often in international competition, and he has remained close with Saunders and Towns.
Check out the piece if you can; it’s a fantastic read.
Here at Dunking With Wolves, we’ll be back with further roster analysis and thoughts on how the Wolves ultimately fill the final roster spot. Stay tuned.