Andrei Kirilenko's decision to opt out of his contract could be something of a game-changer for the Wolves, since it frees up more than $10MM of salary for next season. That means the team has greater flexibility to pursue a new starting shooting guard or small forward through trade or free agency, writes Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune, pointing to O.J. Mayo as a likely target. President of basketball operations Flip Saunders has said that re-signing restricted free agent Nikola Pekovic is the club's primary offseason goal, and Zgoda looks at what could come next for the Wolves:
- Minnesota will waive Greg Stiemsma before his contract becomes fully guaranteed on July 17th, according to Zgoda. I'd imagine the team will try to find takers for Stiemsma's contract in trades before then, though that's just my speculation. There's no partial guarantee on his deal, so the Wolves won't owe him anything if he's off their roster by the 17th of next month.
- The Wolves aren't likely to offer more than two seasons in another contract for Kirilenko.
- Zgoda wrote earlier this month that either J.J. Barea or Luke Ridnour was likely to be traded by draft night, and while that didn't happen, the team was in talks with the Bucks about a Ridnour/Ekpe Udoh swap this week. The Wolves still trying to trade one or both of Barea and Ridnour, according to Zgoda.
- The Wolves would like to include the minimum-salary deal of Chris Johnson in a Barea or Ridnour trade, too.
- Saunders is expected to meet with free agent small forward Chase Budinger in San Diego to talk about a new deal.