The Minnesota Timberwolves have a numbers problem now that Tayshaun Prince is in the fold and will have to make a few decisions prior to opening night.
The Timberwolves reportedly signed Prince to a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum at nearly $1.5 million. The 14-year veteran along with Kevin Garnett and Andre Miller are expected to provide leadership to the young Wolves squad that has the last three No. 1 overall picks on their roster — Anthony Bennett (2013), Andrew Wiggins (2014), and Karl-Anthony Towns (2015).
Minnesota also brought Prince in to help their defense, according to Pro Basketball Talk. The Wolves were the worst defensive team last year, permitting 109.6 points a game per 100 possession.
Prince averaged 7.5 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.6 assists in 58 games with Memphis, Boston, and Detroit last season. He shot 44.0 percent from the field and 46.3 percent from the three-point line. Prince, who ranked among the best in catch and shoot situations last year, had an effective field goal percentage of 47.9 percent — which was his best since the 2010-11 season, per Basketball-Reference.com.
Prince has averaged 11.8 points and 4.5 boards a game during his 13-year career while shooting 45.5 percent from the field and 37.0 percent from beyond the arc.
Minnesota currently has 17 players under contract, with 16 of those being fully guaranteed and one partially guaranteed. The Wolves will need to trade or waive two players before the start of the season.
Former Brooklyn Nets assistant general manager Bobby Marks tweeted that Minnesota has many moveable parts and really no salary cap restrictions.
ESPN is reporting that Lorenzo Brown, the only player who does not have a fully guaranteed deal, along with Anthony Bennett and Damjan Rudez are the most likely players to be traded or released. Shabbaz Muhammed may also be a candidate to be moved.
Brown had a very good summer campaign, averaging 14.2 points, 3.2 assists, and 3.2 rebounds in five games in Las Vegas. He shot 52.1 percent from the field and 30.8 percent from beyond the arc.
Brown is the most likely candidate to be waived or traded due to his contract. The 24-year-old is slated to make $947,276 this season, though the contract doesn’t become guaranteed until January 10, 2016. He averaged 4.2 points, 3.1 assists, and 2.4 rebounds in 18.9 minutes of action with the Wolves. Brown is fourth on Minnesota’s depth chart behind Ricky Rubio, Miller, and Tyus Jones at point guard, though he can also play shooting guard.
At six-foot-five with a long wingspan, Brown possesses great size. He also has elite athleticism and solid handles. Brown is also a very good rebounder as well as a pesky defender.
Brown’s biggest issue is his shooting. He shot 42.6 percent from the field last season — which was a dramatic improvement from the 30.2 percent he shot with Philadelphia in 2013-14 — but only made 21.4 percent of his three-point attempts. He also doesn’t get to the bucket a lot despite having the quickness to do so.
If Brown does get cut, he should have little trouble finding a new home.
Rudez is a pure shooter who is situated behind Andrew Wiggins and Shabazz Muhammad at small forward. The 29-year-old, who came to the Wolves from Indiana this summer, averaged 4.8 points a game while shooting 45.2 percent from the field and 40.6 percent from the three-point line.
The six-foot-10 forward will earn $1.15 million this season and has a team option at $1.2 million for next year. If Rudez does stick, he will help the Wolves with their perimeter shooting — Minnesota made fewer three-pointers than any team last year.
Bennett had a decent sophomore campaign and was pretty impressive during the Pan Am Games, however, the Wolves are pretty stacked in the frontcourt. The 22-year-old forward produced two double-doubles and averaged 5.2 points along with 3.8 rebounds in 15.7 minutes of action last season. Bennett averaged 15.6 points and 10.6 caroms in five Pan-Am games for Canada this summer.
To make matters even murkier for Bennett, Saunders has said that he is unsure whether to pick up Bennett’s fourth year option or not — Minnesota has until October 31 to decide whether to pick up the option.
Bennett will likely compete with Adrian Payne and Nemanja Bjelica in training camp for playing time behind Kevin Garnett at power forward.
[photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images]