Minnesota Timberwolves: Checking in on former Wolves finding new teams

Keita Bates-Diop, formerly of the Minnesota Timberwolves, has signed with the San Antonio Spurs. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Keita Bates-Diop, formerly of the Minnesota Timberwolves, has signed with the San Antonio Spurs. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Noah Vonleh
Noah Vonleh, formerly of the Minnesota Timberwolves, has signed with the Chicago Bulls. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

Minnesota Timberwolves: Checking in on players traded to Nuggets

Noah Vonleh: Non-guaranteed contract with Chicago Bulls

The Wolves signed Noah Vonleh to a veteran’s minimum contract last offseason and it felt like something of a steal.

The former lottery pick had a nice 68-game stint with the New York Knicks in 2018-19 and was thought to be a solid backup big for the Wolves. Indeed, Voneh was solid in a Wolves uniform but didn’t quite possess the total switchability that the Wolves front office and head coach Ryan Saunders desire out of the 4 position.

That, combined with shooting just 2-of-14 from beyond the arc after hitting a somewhat palatable 33.6 percent of long-range attempts with the Knicks limited his usefulness to the Wolves.

Vonleh mainly split time with Gorgui Dieng as Towns’ backup at the 5 and at times was entirely out of the rotation.

Vonleh was included alongside Bates-Diop and others in the massive trade deadline deal that sent several players to Denver. Like KBD, Voneh only played in seven games in a Nuggets uniform.

Now, Vonleh is in the process of inking a non-guaranteed deal with the Chicago Bulls.

The opening night guarantee protects both parties, and at least Vonleh will have the opportunity to move on once again if he doesn’t stick in Chi-town.

Vonleh is still a good player that deserves to be on an NBA roster, and probably should be in a rotation somewhere. He just wasn’t a perfect fit in Minnesota.

Shabazz Napier and Jordan Bell: Still free agents

Both Shabazz Napier and Jordan Bell were flipped to other teams immediately after the trade to Denver, and neither is currently on an NBA roster.

Napier was opportunistically acquired last offseason by Rosas on the heels of the Brooklyn-Golden State sign-and-trade involving D’Angelo Russell and Kevin Durant. Rosas acquired both Rosas and Treveon Graham — another player who was later traded by the Timberwolves.

Napier remains a serviceable point guard but struggled with injuries early in his Minnesota tenure and ultimately didn’t shoot the ball or defend well enough as a Wolf. A career 34.5-percent 3-point shooter, Napier hit on only 29.6 percent of his 3-point attempts with the Wolves and struggled defensively.

At the deadline, he was shipped directly to Washington in exchange for Jodan McRae. Napier immediately became an integral part of the Wizards rotation, starting 10 of the 20 games in which he appeared and averaging 11.6 points and 3.8 assists while shooting 35.8 percent from deep in a Wizards uniform.

Napier remains a free agent as backup point guard spots around the league are gobbled up. The Wolves still need a third point guard, and having Napier third in line would be something of a luxury. Still, he’s undoubtedly looking for a larger role than what the Wolves, who have both Russell and Ricky Rubio at the position, could guarantee.

As for Bell, he was shipped off to Memphis immediately after he was traded to Denver. The Grizzlies waived him, and he latched on with the Wizards’ G League affiliate. He never appeared in a game, and then signed an offseason deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Cavs recently traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers in a deal that brought JaVale McGee to Cleveland and allowed the Lakers to sign Marc Gasol, but the Lakers also waived him.

In case you’re keeping track at home, Bell has bounced around the following teams, all without playing in a game: Minnesota, Denver, Memphis, Washington (G League), Cleveland, and the Lakers.

Hopefully, Bell can latch on somewhere and continue his career, but he remains a free agent at the moment.

Let’s check in on a couple of other former Wolves who recently moved on.