Oh, how I want Nicolas Batum to come and grace us with his basketball goodness. The length! The shooting! The defense! And he's French! I love french fries and french toast, so he must be a wonderful person.
Of course, I also am a bit of a realist, and the entirety of being a realist is realizing what's real and what's not real (for real!). And in this scenario, what's "not real" is the possibility of Batum actually landing in Minnesota late next week amidst an adoring throng of reporters and fans, a la Rubio in 2011. What's more likely - probable, even - is that Batum will be kept in Portland's grubby clutches for the same contract we've offered. I suppose he could just decline to sign anything and hop into free agency next year, but my gut tells me he's going to sign the extension and pretend like all this crap never happened. And then we'll all wear sad faces when he thrashes us for 38 points a game this fall/winter.
If the above scenario happens - and almost assuredly, it will - the Wolves need a Plan B. Let's start with the facts, after the fold:
1) Brandon Roy is a bench player, and will likely not ever get more than 20 minutes a night because of that pesky degenerative knee condition. All I'm hoping for is 10 points a game and zero "collapsing in pain/curling into the fetal position" moments.
2) The remaining FA shooting guards we should pursue are as follows: Courtney Lee, C.J. Miles, or maybe J.R. Smith.
3) Right now, we have plenty of money to spend: Looks like our current situation shows about 11.5 million (I'm probably way off on this, but I'm not savvy enough to figure it all out), and we still need to do something about our complete lack of frontcourt depth. I like the idea of signing Greg Stiemsma, Tolliver, and possibly someone like Carl Landry (his price tag is a bit steep, I'll admit), or even Renaldo Balkman.
So, now that the players and money are all straight, let's talk about the shooting guard possibilities, by probability:
Courtney Lee - He's known for shooting and defense, which is a great fit here in Minnesota. All indications are that he's not a big-time playmaker though, and that's the sort of thing that can be problematic late in a shot clock. And I suppose that's also why the team brought in Brandon Roy… he'll be the dynamic playmaking type, while a guy like Lee could aptly defend the opposing shooting guard and provide a Budinger-like threat on the outside while Pek, Rubio and Love work the pick-and-roll. Lee is 6'5" and 200 lbs., which is pretty damned beanpole-ish, so I wouldn't expect him to bull into the lane and make tough shots after contact.
C.J. Miles - Miles has been connected with Dallas most recently, and seems to be sick of Utah, where he's bounced in and out of the starting lineup due to some real indecision from the coaching staff. He's a solid 6'6" scoring guard who at 222 lbs. is able to get physical on his way to the rim. Not sure how available he is, but Miles' value has been tamped down in Utah, and he certainly hasn't reached his potential at 25 years of age.
J.R. Smith - He's Courtney Lee with moves! I'm a big fan of Smith, but his shot selection is spotty as hell, and I'm not sure how well he'd mesh with big minutes on a roster where he's not supposed to be the leading man. He's 6'6", 220 lbs., and really a fantastic scorer. But he's probably signing with New York anyway, the jerk.
Alright, that's all I have to say on this matter.
The Wolves should forget about Miles and Smith because they are both garbage. Miles shot under .400 coming off the bench for the Utah just averaging over 10 points a game. Smith was never a real; primetime player although there were many expectations to the contrary. The best option is Courtney Lee because he's an unrestricted free agent and gives the Wolves to things they need the most--a shooter and a solid perimeter denfeder. He's certainly a better option at the starting SG than Martell Webster or Wesley Johnson.
Well Indiana is matching Hibbert (obviously.) And even if Portland did match Batum, they would still be under the minimum salary floor. So of course they will. I guess this was fun while it lasted. :-(
@CollegeWolf Some in Portland are making it sound like failing to get Hibbert reduces their likelihood of matching, since spending lots of money on a plus-role player for a losing team is never a good thing. If they had Hibbert, then they would have a solid front line with Hibbert, LMA, and Batum. Instead they may go into tank mode/build through trade & draft.
@CollegeWolf Probably optimism, but that is one dysfunctional org.
Sounds like JR Smith is pretty much guaranteed to go back to New York. I really like Courtney Lee. He's a plus defender... Very Aaron Afflalo-esque. New rumors are Wolves talking with Ray Allen. That's interesting but I don't see him signing here.