Amile Jefferson

Free Agent Stock Watch 2018: Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves landed back in the NBA playoffs for the first time in 14 seasons this spring. That comes as no surprise, given that the club has finally paired its stockpile of young stars with a formidable, winning coach and a green light to spend.

The Wolves need not fret that they barely put a dent in the Rockets this postseason as they’ll be back in contention next season and for as long as Jimmy Butler is capable of leading the club’s offense, flanked by Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns.

It’ll get mighty difficult to afford all three eventually but they won’t need to seriously contemplate how to make all the numbers work until the summer after this one.

Nemanja Bjelica, PF, 30 (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $12MM deal in 2015
The Timberwolves are in a much different position now than they were when they inked Bjelica as an international free agent, but the veteran has hung around in large part due to his presence in the locker room. Given that the Wolves already have so much of their 2018/19 payroll tied up in other players, don’t expect them to offer Bjelica much more than the minimum.

Aaron Brooks, PG, 33 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2017
Brooks didn’t exactly take the league by storm in his tenth season but his role and value are clear; he’s a familiar insurance policy for former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. Brooks isn’t likely to have a long list of suitors so it’s well within reason that he ends up back in Minnesota on another veteran’s minimum deal late this offseason.

Jamal Crawford, SG, 38 (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $9MM deal in 2017Jamal Crawford of the Minnesota Timberwolves
Having made over $100MM over the course of his career, including $11MM from a team he didn’t even play for in 2017/18, Crawford won’t accept his $4.5MM player option for next season if he’s not perfectly content playing for Minnesota. I wouldn’t rule out the 38-year-old passing on a second season with the Wolves in order to close out his career as a killer reserve on a team with more realistic short-term title aspirations.

Marcus Georges-Hunt, SG, 24 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $1MM deal in 2017
There won’t be significant pressure for the Wolves to bring back Georges-Hunt after a solid but modest first year in Minnesota, but they’ll need to fill out their lineup eventually and he’s a tough, defensive-minded player. Expect the club to keep its options open over the course of the offseason but don’t be surprised if the Wolves bring the familiar 24-year-old back on the cheap.

Amile Jefferson, PF, 25 (Up) – Signed to a one-year deal in 2018
The Wolves converted Jefferson’s two-way contract into a standard deal last month despite the fact that he never even suited up for the big league roster. Still, the team had a spot to spare and had no reason not to add the extra layer of depth heading into the postseason. Jefferson is a stud in the G League so the organization may be intrigued by his eventual fit with the parent club, but he won’t earn more than the minimum.

Derrick Rose, PG, 29 (Up) – Signed to a one-year deal in 2018
Prior to signing on with his former head coach late in the regular season, Rose’s value was at a career low. Fast forward two months later, however, and the wayward guard may have actually stumbled into an opportunity to salvage his career. Rose averaged 14.2 points per game for the Wolves in the postseason and could be a valuable rotation piece in the right situation. We’ve seen Rose flame out in a couple of wrong situations, so the fact that he’s found any sort of momentum reunited with Thibodeau and the rest of the Timberbulls bodes well for all involved. Rose didn’t do enough during the first six months of the season to warrant any more than another speculative one-year, minimum deal, but the postseason resurgence may have earned him one last run at meaningful minutes on a competent team.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Wolves Convert Amile Jefferson To Standard Contract

The Timberwolves have converted Amile Jefferson‘s two-way contract to a standard NBA deal, the team announced today in a press release. The move ensures that the rookie forward will be eligible to play in the postseason, assuming Minnesota earns a spot.

Jefferson, who turns 25 next month, went undrafted out of Duke in 2017 and joined the Timberwolves for training camp. After being waived by the team prior to the start of the regular season, Jefferson headed to the Iowa Wolves for the 2017/18 season. He remained there all year, never appearing in a game for the NBA squad even after signing a two-way contract in January.

In 47 G League games, Jefferson averaged 17.8 PPG and 12.8 RPG for Iowa, making shots at a 62.4% rate. He set a new NBAGL record by racking up 36 double-doubles.

Minnesota still had an open spot on its 15-man squad, so no corresponding roster move was required to make room for Jefferson. With the Cavs, Lakers, Clippers, and Raptors having also made moves to fill their roster openings in recent days, the Hornets and Wizards are the only two teams that still have open spots. It’s not clear if Washington intends to sign a 15th man by the end of the day — Charlotte’s season ended on Tuesday, so the Hornets will head into the offseason without a full roster.

Wolves Sign Amile Jefferson To Two-Way Deal

5:04pm: The signing is official, per team release.

1:17pm: The Timberwolves will fill their open two-way contract slot by signing forward Amile Jefferson to a two-way contract, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Charania adds that Jefferson will be a free agent this summer, meaning his new deal will just be a rest-of-season agreement.

Jefferson, 24, went undrafted in 2017 and signed with the Timberwolves for training camp. He was cut at the end of the preseason, joining the Iowa Wolves – Minnesota’s G League team – as an affiliate player in the fall. The former Duke standout has been dominant in his first G League season, averaging 18.0 PPG and 13.1 RPG with a .640 FG%, earning his shot at a two-way deal.

The Timberwolves had been carrying just one two-way player – Anthony Brown – for months, but decided to add a second before today’s deadline. After January 15, teams are no longer permitted to sign players to two-way contracts until the 2018/19 league year begins.

Jefferson may remain with the Iowa Wolves for now, but his two-way deal will allow him to spend up to 22 days in the NBA with the Timberwolves.

USA Basketball Announces Roster For First World Cup Qualifiers

USA Basketball has announced its 12-man roster for the first round of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifiers, bringing back four members of the squad that won gold earlier this year in FIBA’s AmeriCup tournament.

Here’s Team USA’s full 12-man roster:

The squad, which will be coached once again by Jeff Van Gundy, is comprised almost entirely of G League players, since most of the qualifying tournaments take place during the NBA season, preventing NBA players from participating. Team USA’s goal is for Van Gundy’s squad of G Leaguers to qualify for the 2019 World Cup, which will take place in August and September, when NBA players will be free to participate.

The new-look USA Basketball program is off to a good start, having gone 5-0 this summer to win a gold medal at the AmeriCup tournament. Drew, Hearn, Munford, and Warney were all part of that team.

This time around, Team USA will face Puerto Rico on November 23 and then Mexico on November 26. After those contests, the first round of World Cup qualifiers will resume in February before concluding in July. The top three teams in each first-round group will advance to the second round, which begins in September 2018 and concludes in February 2019, so the qualifying process will take some time to play out.

Meanwhile, the G League teams temporarily losing players to Team USA will be permitted one free move per lost player from the available player pool, tweets Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days.

Timberwolves Waive Three Players

The Timberwolves have waived three players from their roster, the team announced today in a press release. Amile Jefferson, Melo Trimble, and Shawne Williams were the players cut, and they’ll become free agents on Monday, assuming they clear waivers.

The three cuts appear to signal that the Wolves have finalized their roster for the regular season. The team is now carrying 15 players in total, including 13 on guaranteed salaries, one (Marcus Georges-Hunt) on a non-guaranteed deal, and one on a two-way contract. Minnesota figures to head into the season with 14 players on its NBA roster, though the club may add a second two-way player.

As for Jefferson, Trimble, and Williams, they’ll likely end up playing for the Iowa Wolves, Minnesota’s new G League affiliate.

Timberwolves Sign Amile Jefferson

SEPTEMBER 18, 1:04pm: The deal is official, according to a tweet from the team.

AUGUST 31, 11:50am: The Timberwolves have reached an agreement to add former Duke forward Amile Jefferson to their roster, reports Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders (via Twitter). According to Scotto, Jefferson will get a one-year, partially guaranteed contract from Minnesota.

Jefferson, 24, won an NCAA championship with Duke in 2015, then spent two more years with the program. In 2016/17, the 6’9″ forward averaged 10.9 PPG, 8.4 RPG, and 1.9 BPG for the Blue Devils.

After going undrafted in June, Jefferson caught on with the Timberwolves for Summer League play, and appeared in five games for the club in Las Vegas. However, he only averaged 11.0 minutes per contest in those games, so his production was limited.

The Timberwolves only have 11 players on guaranteed contracts, but remain in the market for at least three veteran free agents — two wings and a point guard. As such, Jefferson is unlikely to earn a spot on the club’s regular season roster, and is a better bet to start the season with the Iowa Wolves, Minnesota’s new G League affiliate.

Pre-Draft Workouts: Hart, Smith Jr., Kennard, Adebayo

It’s that time of the summer, days until the NBA draft, when your favorite team is doing its due diligence and working out every prospect and his brother. Here is the latest in pre-draft workout news:

Central Notes: Pistons, Bucks, Wade, Pacers

A pair of Michigan prospects are among the players to work out for the Pistons this week, with both Derrick Walton Jr. and Zak Irvin getting a look from the club. Walton was part of a Tuesday workout group that also included Tony Bradley (UNC), Melo Trimble (Maryland), Davon Reed (Miami), Peter Jok (Iowa), and Luke Fischer (Marquette) (Twitter links via Rod Beard of The Detroit News and Keith Langlois of Pistons.com).

Meanwhile, Irvin’s pre-draft workout will take place today, as the Pistons audition a group that also features Tyler Lydon (Syracuse), Marcus Keene (Central Michigan), Bryce Alford (UCLA), Derek Willis (Kentucky), and T.J. Cline (Richmond), per Langlois (Twitter link).

As Detroit weighs its draft options, let’s round up a few more items from around the Central division…

Nets Notes: Birch, Workouts, Meeks, Obradovic

Khem Birch, a Quebec-born big man who went undrafted in 2014 and currently plays for Olympiacos in Greece, has been linked to the Nets. Nikos Varlas of Eurohoops cites sources who say that Brooklyn is “seriously considering” offering Birch a two-year contract for the upcoming season. However, NetsDaily (Twitter link) has been told that the Birch rumor is “completely false.”

Birch was solid last season as a part-time player for Olympiacos, and was a D-League All-Star back in 2015, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the UNLV alum get a shot at an NBA roster. But according to Eurohoops’ report, his buyout is worth upwards of $300K, so an NBA team with interest may be reluctant to pay that buyout for a camp invitee.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • The Nets conducted a group workout today, according to Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders, who tweets that Dillon Brooks, Jawun Evans, Jimmy Hall, Amile Jefferson, Erik McCree, and Derrick White were in attendance.
  • UNC’s Kennedy Meeks worked out for the Nets last week, and according to Ian Begley of ESPN.com, some sources familiar with the workout said that Meeks “excelled.” The former Tar heels center isn’t one of DraftExpress’ top 100 prospects, but Begley suggests Meeks is viewed as a possible late-second-round pick, so he could be an option for Brooklyn at No. 57.
  • The Nets are adding Sasa Obradovic to their Summer League coaching staff, tweets international basketball reporter David Pick. Obradovic, a former international point guard, is currently the haed coach of Lokomotiv Kuban in Russia.