Anthony Tolliver

Latest On Tom Thibodeau, Wolves

Contrary to a report that emerged last night in the wake of Tom Thibodeau’s firing in Minnesota, former Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg is not an “immediate candidate” to become the team’s next coach or president, a source tells Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

Interim coach Ryan Saunders will be given an opportunity to earn the job on a permanent basis, Krawczynski adds, and he has strong support from his players, who respect his work ethic and welcome his approachable nature as a change from Thibodeau. The organization will consider hiring an assistant who has experience as a head coach to help Saunders with the challenges of his new position.

GM Scott Layden was retained last night and will likely remain in place for the rest of the season, but he may need the team to make the playoffs to keep his job beyond that.

While the Wolves have a disappointing 19-21 record, the decision to part with Thibodeau was based on business as much as basketball, Krawczynski writes. The coach had become unpopular with fans, who routinely booed him every time his name was announced in pre-game introductions. Even worse, they were staying away, as Minnesota has dropped to 29th in home attendance after ranking 21st last season. The organization didn’t want to keep an alienating presence in place with a season ticket drive looming.

It’s no secret that owner Glen Taylor was unhappy with Thibodeau and Layden over how they handled the situation with Jimmy Butler before he was traded to the Sixers. Taylor commented several times that he believed both men were dragging their feet on Butler’s trade request and that they let the volatile star hijack the team during training camp and the early season.

Thibodeau has long had a reputation of giving heavy minutes to his starters, and several players complained about poor communication over their roles. Krawczynski reports that Gorgui Dieng, who has fallen out of the rotation after signing a huge contract, was “openly seething” in the locker room after Friday’s game. Tyus Jones, Anthony Tolliver and Jeff Teague have also expressed frustration over their status on the team.

As one of the few remaining coach/executives left in the league, Thibodeau’s standing was also harmed by several personnel decisions that didn’t work out. He was the driving force behind the decision to send Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and a draft pick that turned out to be Lauri Markkanen to the Bulls to acquire Butler. He also convinced Taylor to part with Ricky Rubio in exchange for Teague. And of course, he was responsible for bringing Taj Gibson, Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, his former players in Chicago, to Minnesota to form the “Timber-Bulls.”

Taylor was in Florida last night as Layden and CEO Ethan Casson delivered the news to Thibodeau. Taylor’s only comment came in an official statement from the organization, saying, “These decisions are never easy to make, but we felt them necessary to move our organization forward.”

Dinwiddie Extension Good News For Rozier, Russell?

League executives at last week’s G League Showcase in Las Vegas were “raving” about the Nets‘ deal to lock up Spencer Dinwiddie to a three-year, $34.3MM extension, comparing it to the Clippers‘ three-year, $24MM agreement with Lou Williams, writes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider-only link).

According to Marks, two teams he spoke to in Vegas had Dinwiddie ranked as the third-best point guard in the 2019 free agent class before he signed his extension, placing him behind only Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker. That would have put Dinwiddie ahead of younger players like Terry Rozier (Celtics) and D’Angelo Russell (Nets), both of whom are on track for restricted free agency.

Rozier and Russell should benefit from Dinwiddie’s deal, since it takes one of 2019’s top FA point guards off the board and could create additional competition for their services. According to Marks, league execs in Vegas last week identified the Magic and Suns as probable suitors for Rozier and Russell, though the Celtics and Nets will have the upper hand until an offer sheet is on the table.

Here’s more from Marks:

  • Teams are monitoring Markelle Fultz, not just to keep an eye on his health and future, but also to see how Fultz’s status will impact Sixers teammate T.J. McConnell, according to Marks. McConnell is headed for unrestricted free agency and is unlikely to get an in-season extension if Philadelphia intends to maximize its 2019 cap room. McConnell could command a salary in the $5-7MM range, Marks notes.
  • Teams around the NBA believe there could be a strong group of buyout candidates available later this season. According to Marks, the veteran players that clubs are keeping an eye on include Carmelo Anthony, Robin Lopez, Zach Randolph, Anthony Tolliver, Enes Kanter, Kenneth Faried, Jerryd Bayless, Iman Shumpert, Kosta Koufos, Alec Burks, J.R. Smith, and Jabari Parker. Some of those vets may be traded and some figure to remain with their current teams, but I could definitely see several of them ending up on the buyout market.

Northwest Notes: Tolliver, Murray, Blazers, Westbrook

Timberwolves power forward Anthony Tolliver is disappointed about getting benched but vows not to be a distraction, he told Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Tolliver, who signed a one-year, $5MM+ contract to essentially replace Nemanja Bjelica in the rotation, had his first DNP of the season on Wednesday against New Orleans.

“Obviously it’s not what I came here for, but it’s been one game,” the Timberwolves forward said. “It’s a long season. Just figuring out where my value lies and go from there.”

Tolliver wasn’t notified by Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau that he would sit out. But he added that “you won’t see me complaining about anything.” Tolliver is averaging just 5.6 PPG and 2.8 RPG in 19.1 MPG, though he hasn’t gotten a lot of shots up (Twitter links here).

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray didn’t start Thursday’s game against Atlanta because he was late for the team’s shootaround, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets. Murray only played 23 minutes, contributing 14 points and five assists in the blowout victory. Murray, who is averaging 17.5 PPG and 3.9 APG for Denver, will return to the starting lineup on Saturday against New Orleans.
  • Multiple sources believe the Trail Blazers will likely be sold during the next three years, says John Canzano of The Oregonian. Speculation has been rampant about the future of the organization in the aftermath of owner Paul Allen’s death. The timeline for the sale of the franchise, according to Canzano, would be in the 18-36-month window. The most likely buyer would be a syndicate headed by Merritt Paulson, who owns the Major League Soccer’s Portland Timbers.
  • The Thunder’s offensive numbers suffer greatly with Russell Westbrook out of action but they’re posting strong defensive stats when he sits, Rob Searles of DailyThunder.com notes. OKC is scoring at a 118.1 points per game clip and shooting 47.4% in the games he’s played, compared to 103.9 PPG and 42.5% without him. However, opponents are averaging 112.3 PPG on 46.5% shooting when Westbrook is in the lineup, compared to 99.6 PPG and 44.2% when he’s in street clothes.

Timberwolves Owner Talks Towns, Wiggins, FAs

Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor confirmed last week that Jimmy Butler turned down the team’s contract extension offer, since he’ll have the ability to earn a much larger payday if he waits another year and signs as a free agent in 2019. In his conversation with Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN, Taylor also discussed several other topics, including a possible rookie scale extension for Karl-Anthony Towns.

According to Taylor, the Wolves have already put a maximum-salary offer on the table for Towns and there shouldn’t be much negotiating required. The club has until mid-October to finalize an extension with the former first overall pick, and Taylor sounds confident it’ll happen before then.

“I’m sure he’s going to sign it. It doesn’t really make that much difference to me when he does it,” Taylor said. “We haven’t put any deadline on it or anything like that. The offer’s out there. … I’m confident that we won’t have any problem with it.”

Here’s more from the Timberwolves’ owner:

  • According to Taylor, the Timberwolves aren’t interested in trading Andrew Wiggins at this point. The Wolves owner stressed that the franchise doesn’t want to “give up” on a player as young as Wiggins, who is still just 23. “A lot of players, it took them three or four years to get better and then they just keep getting better,” Taylor said. “I don’t see why Andrew won’t be one of those people, because he has such natural ability.”
  • The Timberwolves signed Anthony Tolliver because they didn’t want to wait on a decision from Nemanja Bjelica, who was seeking a two-year deal. Bjelica ultimately signed with Philadelphia for less than what Minnesota offered him, according to Taylor.
  • Asked about filling out the rest of the Timberwolves’ roster, Taylor acknowledged that minimum-salary signings are the most likely path for the club. “I got the list of who they’re talking to, and they’re not exactly [big-]name players,” Taylor said of the free agents his front office is targeting. “The names they have right now are a little younger, but they have some experience. [The front office] believes that they have the ability to improve.”
  • Taylor also noted that many of Minnesota’s free agent targets are strong defensively, adding that the team wants to improve its bench’s defensive numbers.
  • The Timberwolves owner downplayed the idea that there’s tension between Jimmy Butler and some of the Wolves’ other stars, suggesting that Butler “just wants to win” and wants to make sure that “people around him play really hard.”

Northwest Notes: Blazers, Tolliver, Noel, Roberson

The Trail Blazers are looking to make trades to upgrade their roster, Sean Meagher of The Oregonian relays via an NBA-TV interview. Portland retained Jusuf Nurkic with a four-year deal and added guards Seth Curry and Nik Stauskas in free agency. They also used a slice of their mid-level exception to sign second-rounder Gary Trent Jr.

“There’s a great foundation there, we need to continue to add veterans,” Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey told Leigh Ellis of The Starters. “The draft was the draft, we didn’t have a lot of resources in free agency – we had the tax-payer mid-level, we broke that up – and now we’ll go into the rest of the offseason looking to make trades to bolster the top nine guys in our rotation.”

In other news around the Northwest Division:

  • The Timberwolves valued veteran power forward Anthony Tolliver as much for his defense as his 3-point shooting and veteran leadership, coach Tom Thibodeau told Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Tolliver signed a one-year, $5.75MM contract after a solid season with the Pistons. “We wanted to address the defense of the second unit, and we think he’ll be a great fit,” Thibodeau said. “Whatever he’s asked to do, he does it. He always stars in his role. We can’t have enough guys like that.”
  • Nerlens Noel was recruited by Russell Westbrook and Paul George to join the Thunder, he told Nick Gallo of the Thunder’s website. Noel signed a two-year deal with a player option, adding depth to OKC’s frontcourt. “They called the night of free agency when I was meeting with coach Billy [Donovan],” Noel said of the Thunder’s 1-2 punch. “They told me, let’s get it done and that we want to do special things this year. I definitely felt where they were coming from. I gave it a little thought and with as much love as they showed, it became an easy decision.”
  • Thunder guard Andre Roberson says he’s on track to be back in action for the start of the season, according to Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman. He ruptured the patellar tendon in his left knee in January. Roberson is able to do some light shooting and ball-handling drills but hasn’t started running.

Northwest Notes: Udoh, Thunder, Tolliver, Blazers

The Jazz have been relatively generous during free agency so far this summer compared to most teams, handing out a two-year, $36MM contract to forward Derrick Favors, agreeing to a three-year, $33MM deal with backup guard Dante Exum, and reaching terms on a two-year, $4MM pact with seldom-used guard Raul Neto.

Furthermore, Utah has already guaranteed the 2018/19 salary of Thabo Sefolosha, who was limited to only 39 games last season. As such, it would appear that the Jazz are intent on sticking with their 2017/18 roster for now, which means that both Jonas Jerebko and Ekpe Udoh can be cautiously optimistic while waiting for their 2018/19 salary to become guaranteed.

Udoh in particular, who averaged 2.6 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 63 games for the Jazz last season, and whose $3.36MM salary becomes fully guaranteed if he remains on Utah’s roster past July 9, is trying to remain positive while awaiting Utah’s decision on his future, writes Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News.

“You know, we’ll see what happens,” Udoh told the Deseret News. “I’m grateful. I’m getting great workouts at the facility. I’ve been here pretty much since the season has been over outside of a couple trips, but I’ve just been getting in good work.”

Per Woodyard, Udoh is excited and prepared to return in a Jazz uniform next season, but also understands the business-like nature of the NBA.

“It’s gonna be a fun season,” Udoh said. “The West has gotten better but we’ve gotten better and we’re gonna be the same team next year. Starting last year, you didn’t know what you were going to get with so many new pieces, but now we’ll be ready from the beginning.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman writes that although Paul George did in fact want to be a Laker at this time last year, he is now happy in Oklahoma City after signing a four-year, $137MM max contract with the Thunder on the eve of free agency.
  • According to Jerry Zgoda of the Star TribuneTimberwolves’ free-agent signee forward Anthony Tolliver chose a return to Minnesota over four other pursuing teams because of the familiarity he has for the franchise – he played for the Wolves from 2010 to 2012 – and because “(he) want(s) to win.”
  • While it’s probably a bit bold to get too excited about the free agent signing of a backup, Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman writes that the addition of 24 year-old center Nerlens Noel on a minimum-salary deal is a low-risk, high-reward move by the Thunder.
  • Per Joe Freeman of The Oregonian, a couple of key subplots have emerged for the Trail Blazers during the team’s summer league minicamp. First, it’s an opportunity for Portland to get a first-hand look at rookies Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent Jr. in an NBA practice. Moreover, both Wade Baldwin and Georgios Papagiannis are fighting for their NBA lives while Jake Layman looks to secure a more prominent role for next season.

Wolves Sign Anthony Tolliver

JULY 8: The Tolliver signing is now official, according to the NBA’s transactions log.

JULY 2: The Timberwolves have withdrawn their qualifying offer for Nemanja Bjelica, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). The move will make Bjelica an unrestricted free agent, with Minnesota losing the right of first refusal.

With Bjelica expected to land elsewhere, the Wolves will fill his spot on the roster by signing Anthony Tolliver.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports first reported (via Twitter) that Minnesota was nearing an agreement on a one-year deal with Tolliver, while David Aldridge of TNT confirms (via Twitter) that they’ve come to terms.

According to Charania (via Twitter), Tolliver’s new one-year contract with the Timberwolves will be in the $5-6MM range, so it sounds like the team will sign him using its mid-level exception.

If the Wolves want to avoid becoming hard-capped for the 2018/19 league year, they’d have to ensure that Tolliver’s salary doesn’t exceed $5.337MM, the value of the taxpayer mid-level exception. However, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link) pegs the value at $5.75MM. That would mean dipping into the full MLE and creating a hard cap.

The Timberwolves made Tolliver a priority when the free agent period opened, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News, who tweets that Tom Thibodeau had two separate phone calls with the veteran forward. Tolliver also drew interest from the Clippers, Mavericks, and Sixers, but liked the idea of returning to Minnesota, where he spent two seasons earlier in his career.

In 2017/18, Tolliver – the No. 43 free agent on our top-50 list – enjoyed perhaps his best NBA season for the Pistons. Appearing in 79 regular season games, he averaged 8.9 PPG and 3.1 RPG with a shooting line of .464/.436/.797. His ability to stretch the floor will benefit the Wolves, particularly with Bjelica no longer in the mix.

Bjelica, 30, averaged 6.8 PPG and 4.1 RPG in 20.5 minutes per contest (67 games) for the Wolves last season. His .415 3PT% should appeal to teams in the market for a stretch four, especially now that he’s an unrestricted free agent.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Free Agent Rumors: Favors, Ellington, Tolliver

The Jazz have already met with free agent big man Derrick Favors, Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune reports. Favors met with club general manager Dennis Lindsey and head coach Quin Snyder for three hours today to discuss his future.

Marc Spears of The Undefeated, also reporting on the meeting, tweets that the forward is expected to make a decision on Monday. Favors – like the Jazz in general – enjoyed a pleasant surprise of a 2017/18 season and meshed with center Rudy Gobert in ways that he hadn’t previously.

That successful year has breathed new life into Favors’ future with the franchise that he’s played for since 2011. Favors averaged 12.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game this season, a notable improvement from the 9.5 and 6.1 he posted in 2016/17.

Both the Timberwolves and Mavs were previously linked to the 26-year-old.

There’s more from around the league tonight:

Timberwolves Eyeing Nick Young, Other Free Agents

4:06pm: Wolfson adds Jeff Green, Malcolm Delaney, and Treveon Graham to the list of free agents that the Timberwolves have inquired on so far (Twitter link).

12:15pm: The Timberwolves have interest in Nick Young among several other free agents, according to ESPN’s Darren Wolfson (Twitter link).

Young is coming off a down year in Golden State where he sported just a 10.0 player efficiency rating and scored just 7.3 points per game. It’s hard to envision the shooting guard surpassing the $5.19MM salary he received with the Warriors last season after floundering alongside the best supporting cast he’s ever played with.

Minnesota has the non-tax mid-level ($8.6MM) and the bi-annual ($3.4MM) at its disposal. However, with approximately $115MM already on the books, the team must be careful when handing out deals if it intends to stay below the luxury tax line. If a team uses its bi-annual exception or more than the taxpayer portion of its MLE, it becomes hard-capped for the season.

Dante Cunningham and James Ennis are among other free agents the Wolves are keeping an eye on, Wolfson adds. Lance Stephenson remains a possibility for one of the team’s five open roster spots. Minnesota is among the teams expected to have interest in the mercurial shooting guard once the first wave of free agents sign.

Other candidates for the team’s openings include Trevor Booker, Amir Johnson, Jabari Bird and Anthony Tolliver. Coach/executive Tom Thibodeau reportedly has spoken with Tolliver and team values the power forward’s lockerroom presence.

Free Agent Notes: Stephenson, Tolliver, McGee, O’Quinn

Plenty of teams will have interest in Lance Stephenson once the higher-profile free agents are signed, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. The Pacers remain open to bringing back the 27-year-old swingman after declining their team option on him this week. Wolfson lists the Timberwolves, Knicks, Sixers and Lakers as other interested teams, but says there are more.

Stephenson appeared in all 82 games for Indiana this season, averaging 9.2 points per night. He would have made $4.36MM in 2018/19 if the Pacers had picked up his option.

There’s more free agent news to pass along:

  • Timberwolves coach/executive Tom Thibodeau has talked to Pistons free agent Anthony Tolliver, according to Wolfson (Twitter link). Tolliver shot 44% from 3-point range this season, and Minnesota sees him as a possible replacement for Jamal Crawford. The Wolves also like his locker room presence, which could be valuable if Cole Aldrich doesn’t come back.
  • JaVale McGee has said he wants to return to the Warriors, but he is also getting interest from the Lakers, Pelicans and Thunder, tweets TNT’s David Aldridge. Because of luxury tax concerns, Golden State is unlikely to offer more than a veteran’s minimum contract, while the other teams have more financial flexibility. McGee averaged 4.8 PPG and 2.6RPG this season, but his numbers rose after he became a starter after the All-Star break. This is the third straight summer of free agency for McGee, who has spent the past two seasons with the Warriors.
  • The new contract for Luke Kornet is a sign that Kyle O’Quinn won’t return to the Knicks, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. He adds that the Sixers are showing “heavy interest” in O’Quinn, who spent the past three years in New York as a backup center.
  • The Knicks are hoping to re-sign Isaiah Hicks, who was on a two-way contract this season, tweets ESPN’s Ian Begley. New York gave him a qualifying offer last week, making him a free agent and giving the team the right to match any offer. Hicks appeared in 18 NBA games, averaging 4.4 points per night.
  • A scheduled meeting between Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and the Clippers has been moved from today to Monday, tweets Chris Haynes of ESPN.