The NBA calendar flips to next season on Sunday at 5 p.m. central time. Free agents will be free to talk to new teams and strike verbal agreements (if they haven’t already been wink-wink agreed upon).
The Wolves have six free agents from last season’s team that decisions will need to be made on. Below we list the likelihood that each of them returns for next season
Deng probably has the skillset of any of the impending free agents for the Wolves. He played limited time last season under Ryan Saunders after being buried deep on the bench until Tom Thibodeau was fired. Under Saunders Deng did show flashes of the 3-and-D type player that can thrive in today’s NBA before missing the final 21 games of the season due to an Achilles injury. Under Saunders he shot over 51% from the floor and nearly 36% from beyond the arc in the 18 games he played and the Wolves went 9-9 over that stretch.
While the skillset does fit in for something that the Wolves should be looking for, he did just turn 34 in April. It’s fair to question how much is left in the tank, and the severity of last season’s injury. Those could be a factor in both how many teams are interested in his services and the amount of money that he signs for. If the Wolves can get him on a veteran’s minimum salary, this might not be a bad idea.
Likelihood of returning: 35%
Tolliver was under-utilized last season in Minnesota. His services will be wanted by someone, but it’s unknown how interested he would be in a reunion with the Wolves. His shooting did improve when the coaching change was made midway through the season although at this point in career it’s fair to wonder if he wants to play for a contender.
With Robert Covington shifting to the four more often, Tolliver could slide in as a very capable backup behind him, although the Wolves could look to use a better defender on the wing at that spot. Maybe Keita Bates-Diop becomes that in his second season or someone else is found. It feels difficult to imagine Tolliver returning to the Wolves to begin the 2019-20 season.
Likelihood of returning: 10%
Gibson was about as professional as one could be while dealing with an injury-riddled losing season last year. Add in that he had his starting spot taken from him by Dario Saric during the year and took it in stride. He’s accomplished a lot in his career after being part of some really good teams in Chicago and one in Oklahoma City. At this point, if Gibson isn’t going to be paid handsomely, it makes sense for him to chase after a championship if possible, Minnesota probably isn’t the place for that.
Likelihood of returning: 20%
Rose had a resurgence last year before injuries took most of the second half of the season from him. He was really good until January, and then wasn’t the same after returning from an ankle injury that cost him seven games near the end of the Thibodeau era. He played in only 19 games under Saunders before having his season ended by surgery on his elbow.
Rose was good enough in the time on this floor this past season to warrant someone giving him more than the veteran minimum next year. The injuries with him will be a concern as long as he continues playing in the NBA. Rose will have willing suitors, and the Wolves will likely be one of them, but they’ll have competition.
Likelihood of returning: 25%
When the Wolves were essentially out of point guards during part of the season, Bayless did a terrific job stepping up and trying to prove that he still belonged in the NBA. He strung together enough solid games during the year that there will likely be some sort of interest on him, but it’s hard to imagine him back with the Wolves.
Likelihood of returning: Less than 10%
Jones is the most interesting case of any of the free agents for the Wolves due to the fact that he’s a restricted free agent, meaning that he can sign an offer sheet with any NBA team and the Wolves have up to three days to decide whether or not they would like to match the contract and retain him. This makes things more complicated because it potentially lets other teams set the market on Jones.
It’s been no secret that Jones and Saunders have a great relationship and that if Saunders had his way, Jones would likely be back. The question at hand is how high will the Wolves go in order to match Jones. He doesn’t slide in at the top of the free agent market for point guards with Malcolm Brogdon, and Terry Rozier both likely to gather more interest in terms of restricted free agent point guards. The amount of money Jones gets will certainly be fascinating.
Likelihood of returning: 60%