Based on the words coming out of Jimmy Butler's mouth, the Wolves are going to be big players when the free agency bell rings at 11:01 p.m. Friday.
ESPN's Zach Lowe agrees, saying "the Wolves will spend now, since it will be very hard for them to carve out room once Andrew Wiggins' new deal starts." Wiggins will be a restricted free agent next summer.
What will the Wolves be looking for in free agency? A lot, according to General Manager Scott Layden.
"When you look at our roster, we have a lot of needs and we're going to try and fill holes," Layden told Darren Wolfson on The Scoop podcast. "We need to look for players that will fit his system and fit his (head coach Tom Thibodeau) style. We need tough guys, we need intelligent guys, we need guys that are going to be committed. We're talking about mental toughness and the profile of Jimmy Butler. But we also need shooting and guys that are going to get better."
Shooting and tough guys. That sounds about right considering the Wolves were a terrible defensive team last year.
Rubio and Lowry
They could also be in the market for a point guard if Ricky Rubio is traded. One name to watch: Raptors free agent Kyle Lowry, whom has a big fan in Butler.
"I don't know. I can't tell you otherwise I'd be leaking classified information," Butler said when asked by KFAN's Dan Barreiro if he's recruiting to Lowry to Minnesota. "But he's a really good player, now that you say it. I don't know, I'll keep you tuned."
Lowe linked Rubio to Utah and Lowry to Minnesota in his Friday column at ESPN.com.
"The Jazz may nab a point -- perhaps even Ricky Rubio via trade -- before their $16 million of remaining 2016-17 cap space vaporizes on July 1. Failing that, they could become a big-money suitor if George Hill and Hayward leave.
If Minnesota flips Rubio into someone's cap space, they'll go big-game hunting. Lowry would fit nicely there."
What could Utah offer for Rubio? CBS Sports speculates that Rodney Hood and Alec Burks fit Minnesota's need for shooting. Hood makes sense because he's a bulldog defender and only due $2.38 million next season. But Burks 2017-18 salary of $10.6 million would only clear about $4 million for the Wolves, which doesn't make sense if they're going big-game hunting for a Rubio replacement. Trading Rubio for Hood, which also works financially for Utah, would give Minnesota about $30 million to work with in free agency.
Hood would also bring much-needed wing depth to Minnesota's roster.
Other names to keep an eye on
More names to watch, according to Wolfson.
- J.J. Redick
- Derrick Rose
- Taj Gibson
- Mike Dunleavy Jr.
- Kyle Korver
- Andre Iguodala
- George Hill
The official signing period opens at 11:01 p.m. CT Friday and it could get crazy right away. Last year, Bradley Beal, Timofey Mozgov and DeMar DeRozan signed massive deals in the first few hours of free agency. Tonight could be the same.