Following his buyout and release from the Lakers, Luol Deng is poised to become an unrestricted free agent today once he officially clears waivers. Early reports indicated that the veteran forward is expected to receive interest from multiple contending teams, and one of those teams figures to be the Timberwolves.
As Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic notes (via Twitter), he reported earlier in the offseason that Minnesota would have interest in both Deng and Joakim Noah if they were to become available. With Deng set to become a free agent and Noah’s days in New York reportedly numbered, the Timberwolves’ presumed interest in the duo hasn’t wavered, per Krawczynski.
Although both Deng and Noah have been viewed as toxic assets in recent years due to their overpriced contracts, the two veterans have strong NBA track records. They’d look a whole lot better on one-year, minimum-salary contracts than they did on their four-year, $72MM deals.
Of course, it’s no coincidence that the Timberwolves would have interest in a pair of former Bulls. Current Wolves head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau has exhibited a fondness for bringing his old Chicago players to Minnesota, with Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, and Derrick Rose already on the roster.
The Wolves are also one of a small handful of teams around the NBA that could accommodate two more players on guaranteed contracts without having to trade or waive any projected roster players before opening night. Minnesota is currently carrying 12 players on guaranteed salaries, plus James Nunnally on a partially guaranteed deal, leaving two potential openings for the club’s 15-man regular season roster.
While Noah is still a Knick for now, Deng looks like a viable target for the Timberwolves. Having been unhappy about barely seeing the court in Los Angeles last season, the 33-year-old will be looking to join a team that will give him a chance to play. Given Thibodeau’s tendency to lean heavily on his starters, Deng would have to be confident he’d have an opportunity to crack the club’s rotation in order to seriously consider signing in Minnesota.