Just as many had expected, the Minnesota Timberwolves signed Luol Deng to a one-year contract earlier this week, reuniting him with several ex-Chicago Bulls teammates, including Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, and Derrick Rose, as well as his former coach on the Bulls, Tom Thibodeau. However, the team doesn’t appear to be done upgrading its bench, as new reports suggest that Minnesota recently worked out three veteran players, including former NBA Most Improved Player Monta Ellis.
In a tweet posted on Monday, The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski wrote that the Timberwolves are still doing “due diligence” in free agency as they try to fill the vacancies in their lineup with unsigned, mostly familiar veterans. These include Ellis and former Golden State Warriors forward Brandon Rush, as well as 2017-18 rookie Brandon Paul, who played sparingly in 64 games with the San Antonio Spurs. According to Bleacher Report, none of these players are sure additions to the lineup, as Krawczynski said in a subsequent tweet that he would be “stunned” if the Timberwolves went above the luxury tax by signing even one of them.
As further noted by Bleacher Report, Brandon Rush and Monta Ellis could potentially be returning to the NBA after missing all of the 2017-18 season. Rush, in particular, might return to the team he had last played for, as he averaged 4.2 points per game in the 2016-17 season for the Timberwolves. Ellis, however, could be the most interesting veteran prospect among those being looked at by Minnesota.
A second-round pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, Ellis joined the league straight out of high school and didn’t get to start regularly until his second season, where he more than doubled his rookie scoring average to 16.5 points per game, en route to Most Improved Player honors for the 2006-07 season. While he averaged at least 20 points between the 2009 and 2012 seasons, peaking at 25.5 points and 5.3 assists per game, he saw his numbers decline soon after he left the Golden State Warriors. Ellis was waived in July 2017 after averaging only 8.5 points and 3.2 assists for the Pacers.
As pointed out by Bleacher Report, Monta Ellis could offer some perimeter shooting and give the Minnesota Timberwolves another reliable veteran with postseason experience. Still, it remains far from clear if the team will ultimately sign him as a potential backup to Jimmy Butler at shooting guard. Slam Online cited another tweet from Krawczynski, where he explained that there are “probably 15 workouts” for every signing, and that “due diligence” is far from a confirmation that someone will be signing with an NBA team.