Timberwolves free agent focus: Austin Rivers

Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /

Even as the Minnesota Timberwolves transition between NBA seasons, there are a number of important decisions that must be deliberated in order for this team to restock and reset for the 2023-24 NBA season. Perhaps the most vital of decisions facing the team comes down to which free agents to bring back for another go.

Is this an easy peasy lemon squeezy type of dilemma? Not exactly. The Timberwolves roster has a lot of moving parts, something that we all witnessed throughout the course of the 2022-23 NBA season. This was a team that tried to find the sweet spot, a natural balance between veteran wisdom and leadership, and the energy and confidence of youth.

One veteran added to the team is combo guard Austin Rivers, a player who was added to give the team some long-range artillery. For the most part, he did well in that role:

An 11-year NBA veteran is always an asset in terms of lockerroom leadership, and the Timberwolves roster needs all of the leadership that it can get. But is that enough?

And so, the debate begins for the Timberwolves front office. Did Austin Rivers deliver enough to come back for the 2023-24 NBA season?

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Why Timberwolves may not re-sign Austin Rivers

The Minnesota Timberwolves are pivoting to build around the rising star of SG Anthony Edwards, and the timeframe for Edwards’ ascension likely overshoots the relevant NBA play of Austin Rivers. In fact, with young guns Wendell Moore Jr. and Nickeil Alexander-Walker looking for more minutes behind Edwards, is there enough of a role for Rives to keep him active and proficient?

If not, then scoring accuracy really doesn’t matter, does it? To score, you need to shoot. To shoot, you need a basketball. To have a basketball, you need to play some minutes. Do the Timberwolves have minutes to direct to a veteran, with so many young players screaming for playing time as well?

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Why Timberwolves should re-sign Austin Rivers

Every NBA locker room needs veteran leadership, and if you need to see what true NBA leadership looks like, just follow and revisit Austin Rivers’ social media accounts from the 2022-23 NBA season. He arrives ready. He takes whatever role he is assigned and runs with it.

For a young team, that is enough. Perhaps just one more season? Until the rest of the Timberwolves roster builds the chemistry that binds them out of mutual respect and genuinely liking one another, Austin Rivers is the perfect veteran shock absorber on this team to handle team minutes, work with younger players, and perhaps most of all, be the cool and collected veteran who keeps everyone else on the team focused.

Recommendation: Re-sign

The Minnesota Timberwolves may not be getting the prime years of Austin Rivers in the 2023-24 NBA season, but there are other reasons to bring him back. Until the team advances to at least Round 2 of the NBA Playoffs, there is a need and a role for Austin Rivers to fill on this team.

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Hopefully, the Minnesota Timberwolves agree.