Shabazz Muhammad

Wolves Notes: Ownership, Muhammad, Towns

It was less than two years ago that Glen Taylor nearly worked out an agreement to sell a portion of the Timberwolves to Steve Kaplan, with an eye toward Kaplan eventually taking over a controlling interest in the franchise. However, since that deal fell through, Taylor has doubled down on his investment in the Wolves, pouring money into renovating the arena and revamping the roster, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

As he explains to Krawczynski, Taylor has had no shortage of opportunities to sell the Timberwolves, and any sale would net him a significant profit, considering he bought the franchise for just $88MM back in 1994. However, the long-time owner of the Wolves doesn’t want to see a new ownership group move the team out of Minnesota, and most potential investors are interested in doing just that.

Krawczynski suggests that Taylor could have sold the team for at least $700MM within the last couple years, with the Wolves’ owner hinting that he could have done much better than that if he’d been eager to sell.

“Even right now I have people that would call me up and give me substantially more than the number you just said,” Taylor said. “And I’ve said I’m not interested in selling. I just want to play this thing out.

“I certainly could sell the team if money was my driving factor,” Taylor added. “But it wasn’t when I bought it. I never anticipated selling it (to make money).”

Here’s more on the Wolves’ ownership situation, a long with a couple more notes out of Minnesota:

  • Although Taylor is in no rush to sell the Timberwolves, Krawczynski’s report notes that Taylor is 76 years old, and none of his children are interested in taking over the business, so he’ll have to find a buyer at some point down the road.
  • While it’s not official yet and he’s not sure how long the process will take, Shabazz Muhammad plans to change his legal name to ‘Bazz,” as he tells Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. “I just like it,” Muhammad said. “Everybody calls me that anyway.”
  • Karl-Anthony Towns enjoyed his best game of the season on Friday night, racking up 33 points and 19 rebounds in a win over Oklahoma City. As Kent Youngblood of The Star Tribune relays, Towns’ teammates – who recognize his ability to take over games – would like to see that sort of effort from him on a nightly basis. Towns will be extension-eligible for the first time in 2018, and figures to be in line for a maximum-salary deal with more performances like Friday’s.

Timberwolves Re-Sign Shabazz Muhammad

SEPTEMBER 16: Muhammad’s new deal with the Wolves includes a second-year player option, tweets Keith Smith of RealGM.com. That option will be worth the minimum salary, so it’s likely to be declined, but it gives Muhammad some insurance in the event of a major injury or a poor showing in 2017/18.

Muhammad also got a 15% trade kicker on his contract, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN.

SEPTEMBER 15: The Timberwolves have issued a press release formally announcing that Muhammad’s deal has been finalized.

SEPTEMBER 12: Veteran free agent Shabazz Muhammad is nearing a deal that will keep him in Minnesota, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Muhammad will receive a veterans minimum salary of $1.6MM, and his Bird rights will remain in place for a potentially longer contract next summer (Twitter link).

The 24-year-old swingman has spent his first four NBA seasons with the Timberwolves. He entered the offseason as a restricted free agent, but became unrestricted when the Wolves renounced his rights to free up cap room.

Muhammad remained a free agent for so long because he has been unwilling to accept a minimum deal, but that’s all Minnesota has left to offer. The Wolves spent big on free agents this summer, signing Taj Gibson and Jeff Teague and using their mid-level exception to acquire Jamal Crawford. Several teams reached out to Muhammad early in free agency, with the Hawks, Nets, Bucks and Knicks among the suitors.

Muhammad has developed into a reliable reserve for Minnesota over the past two seasons. He appeared in 78 games last year, starting just one, and averaged 9.9 points per night.

According to Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press (Twitter link), Muhammad turned down a higher offer from another team to return to the Wolves — that rival suitor may have been the Lakers, who were linked to the free agent swingman and have their full room exception available. Additionally, Muhammad’s new deal will give him the ability to veto trades during the 2017/18 season.

And-Ones: Free Agents, Antic, Bagley, Heat

The addition of two-way contracts has impacted the ability of veteran free agents to find new homes this offseason, according to David Aldridge of NBA.com in his latest Morning Tip column. Gerald Green, David Lee, Anthony Morrow and Shabazz Muhammad are among the notable free agents who remain on the market and Aldridge points out that many teams are leaving their 15th roster spot open, rather than signing another player. That’s in part due to the ability of teams to sign two players to low-cost two-way deals, Aldridge continues. The increase in veteran minimum salaries under the new CBA has also depressed the free agent market, especially for teams close to or over the luxury tax threshold, Aldridge adds.

In other notable developments around the league:

  • Former NBA big man Pero Antic will play in Serbia for KK Crvena Zvezda during the upcoming season, according to a Sportando report. Antic, who signed a one-year contract, spent the last two seasons in Turkey with Fenerbahce. Antic played 113 games over two seasons for the Hawks, averaging 6.3 PPG and 3.5 RPG in 17.4 MPG.
  • Russell Westbrook‘s ability to coexist with another star player in Paul George and Kemba Walker‘s impact on Dwight Howard in Charlotte are two of the five big NBA questions heading into training camp, according to Buddy Grizzard of Basketball Insiders. The league’s proposal to change the draft lottery has much more to do with access to star players rather than concerns about tanking, Grizzard argues in another of the hot topics he addresses.
  • The potential No. 1 overall pick in the next draft, Marvin Bagley, has been officially cleared to play for Duke, Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com tweets. The 6’11” power forward was reclassified into the class of 2017 last month.
  • Roof damage to the Heat’s AmericanAirlines Arena by Hurricane Irma was superficial, Ira Winderman of the Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. The team’s practice court also sustained minor damage, Winderman adds.

Latest On Timberwolves’ Free Agent Search

2:08pm: Wolfson has provided an update to his initial report, tweeting that Thornton is actually working out for the Wolves later this week. However, veteran guard Jason Terry was spotted at the team’s facility today, per Wolfson.

11:27am: After working out several free agents last week, the Timberwolves are once again taking a closer look at some available players today, says Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (via Twitter). According to Wolfson, veteran shooting guard Marcus Thornton is among the players working out today for Minnesota.

The Timberwolves have been on the lookout for much of the offseason for three veteran players who could fill out the team’s roster. Minnesota is said to be in the market for a pair of wings and a backup point guard, and auditioned a handful of players last week that fit that bill, including Anthony Morrow, Alan Anderson, Trey Burke, and Isaiah Canaan.

One of Minnesota’s top choices would be to simply re-sign Shabazz Muhammad, who remains on the free agent market. The Wolves renounced Muhammad’s rights in July, so they can’t offer him more than a minimum salary deal, but it’s possible that will be enough — Wolfson reports that there’s “slightly growing optimism” on the possibility of bringing back the free agent swingman.

The Wolves currently have 11 players on fully guaranteed contracts, and are open to increasing that number to 14 by the start of training camp. That would leave one opening on the 15-man regular season roster, which could be filled by a non-guaranteed player who has an impressive camp, or could be left open to start the season.

Kyler’s Latest: Carmelo, Green, Len, Muhammad

As we detailed earlier this week, little to no progress has been made on the Carmelo Anthony front, with the veteran forward and the Knicks appearing to be engaged in a game of chicken. With training camp fast approaching, Anthony has been unwilling to expand his list of acceptable landing spots beyond Houston, knowing that the Knicks have little interest in bringing him to camp and paying his full salary. However, the Knicks have maintained that they’re not open to a buyout and won’t accept a trade for pennies on the dollar.

Anthony expanding his list of preferred destinations beyond the Rockets would help the two sides reach a resolution, but the All-Star forward’s camp has shown little interest in doing that, writes Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. According to Kyler, Anthony seems to recognize that his no-trade clause gives him the power to force the Knicks to trade him where he wants to go or to pay his full salary.

As we wait to see whether Anthony will report to camp with the Knicks, let’s round up a few more items from Kyler…

  • The Grizzlies initially made JaMychal Green an offer that was “far less” than what he and his camp were seeking, per Kyler. As we learned on Wednesday, Green and the Grizzlies now seem to be focused on a shorter-term contract, likely in the two-year range. There was some speculation that Green could sign his qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent in 2018, but his $2.82MM QO was probably too modest to be a serious threat, says Kyler.
  • Another restricted free agent, Suns center Alex Len, remains in limbo and there’s an expectation that he may end up signing his qualifying offer, according to Kyler. League sources tell Kyler that an initial offer extended by Phoenix early in the free agent period didn’t meet Len’s expectations. A multiyear offer was still on the table as of mid-July, but it’s not clear if that offer remains available for Len now.
  • While the Timberwolves are holding onto hope that they can bring back Shabazz Muhammad, there’s increased speculation that the free agent forward will join the Lakers on a one-year deal, writes Kyler. Many people in NBA circles believe the idea of getting a bigger role and a bigger stage in Los Angeles would appeal to Muhammad, Kyler adds.

Western Notes: Caldwell-Pope, Wolves, Bertans

The Lakers were motivated to sign shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope because he shares the same agent as LeBron James, sources indicated to Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. Caldwell-Pope was inked to a one-year, $18MM contract after the Pistons cut ties with the restricted free agent this summer. Rich Paul represents both Caldwell-Pope and James. Signing Caldwell-Pope allows the Lakers to keep the lines of communication open with Paul and show how they run their organization, among other benefits, McMenamin continues. James is expected to opt out of the final year of his contract next summer and become an unrestricted free agent.

In other nuggets regarding the Western Conference:

  • The Timberwolves will host some free agents this week, Darren Wolfson of KSTP tweets. Wolfson didn’t name the free agents who are visiting but added that the club has grown antsy waiting on decisions from free agents Shabazz Muhammad and Dante Cunningham. Muhammad is reportedly mulling a contract offer from the Lakers, while the Pelicans and Bucks are also pursuing Cunningham.
  • Spurs forward Davis Bertans suffered a finger injury in Latvia’s loss to Serbia during the Eurobasket tournament, Kurt Helin of NBCSports.com tweets. Bertans’ finger isn’t broken, according to X-rays, so it shouldn’t affect his status for the NBA’s regular season.
  • Kings assistant Elston Turner and his family were displaced from their suburban Houston home by Hurricane Harvey, Ailene Voison of the Sacramento Bee reports. Turner gives his account of evacuating his home and describes the havoc and damage caused by the hurricane. He’s been uplifted by the support of the Kings’ brass and coaches, Voison adds.

Shabazz Muhammad Reportedly Considering Lakers

Shabazz Muhammad, one of the top free agents left on the market, is reportedly considering a deal with the Lakers, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter links). Pincus adds that Los Angeles still has a $4.3MM room exception but a minimum deal could also be in play should both sides reach an agreement.

Muhammad was previously represented by current Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka. While that prior relationship exists, it is not clear if it will impact a potential deal.

The Wolves renounced their rights to Muhammad earlier this summer. Since then, the Hawks, Nets, Bucks, and Knicks have been mentioned as possible destinations. Minnesota was reportedly considering a reunion with the 24-year-old earlier this month.

In 78 games with the Wolves last season, Muhammad averaged 9.9 PPG and 2.8 RPG while shooting .482% from the field in just under 20 minutes per game.

The Lakers’ busy offseason has included drafting Lonzo Ball, signing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and trading former first-round pick D’Angelo Russell to Brooklyn for veteran center Brook LopezMuhammad would provide the team with a young scoring weapon off the bench if a deal is reached.

Wolves Rumors: FAs, Muhammad, Wiggins, Roth

The Timberwolves are still carrying just 11 players on guaranteed contracts for 2017/18, but head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau expects that number to increase in the near future. As Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune details, Thibodeau and the Wolves plan to add three players on guaranteed minimum contracts, retaining some flexibility with the 15th and final roster spot.

As has been the case for more than a month now, the Wolves intend to add a backup point guard and two wings to their roster. While the market for backup point guards has thinned out considerably, there are still several interesting wings on the market, including Tony Allen, Gerald Green, Anthony Morrow, and Mike Dunleavy.

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • Of course, as Minnesota looks to add a couple wings, Shabazz Muhammad remains an option, if he’s willing to settle for a minimum salary contract, writes Zgoda. “There’s an opportunity here for him,” Thibodeau said of Muhammad. “He has several opportunities to look at.”
  • The process of signing Andrew Wiggins to a contract extension will be delayed by his agent change, but Thibodeau and the Wolves still expect that deal to get done in the “next few weeks,” as Zgoda details.
  • Nemanja Bjelica and Justin Patton continue to recover from foot injuries. According to Zgoda, Thibodeau is hopeful that Bjelica will be ready for training camp and Patton will good to go for the Wolves’ regular season opener.
  • Thibodeau confirmed that the Wolves explored the possibility of acquiring Kyrie Irving from the Cavaliers, per Zgoda. “You have the responsibility to explore every possibility,” Thibodeau said. “If it makes sense for us, we’ll do it. If it doesn’t, we move on. We love the players we have. We know there’s a lot of work to do.”
  • Former Timberwolves player and current scout Scott Roth is set to become the first head coach of the Iowa Wolves, Minnesota’s newly-purchased G League affiliate, according to Zgoda. Roth will be tasked with his helping to develop young players for the Wolves, as well as implementing Thibodeau’s strategic concepts in Iowa.

Western Notes: Jackson, Harden, Muhammad, Wolves, Clippers Arena

Rumors of the Suns trading promising rookie Josh Jackson for Kyrie Irving should be put to rest, writes Greg Moore of AZCentral.com. Moore writes that Jackson and Devin Booker each create a sense of “awe and wonder,” making anyone who watches them dream of the future.

The Arizona-based scribe argues that the manner in which coach Earl Watson talks about Jackson comes off much more as genuine optimism for the future than big talk to boost trade value.

“I love Josh Jackson,” Watson said Monday. “Something about him is just uncommon.” Devin Booker, meanwhile, “always had that edge.” “(Those) two together are going to be great young guys who can push other guys to become better because they’re so inner competitive,” Watson said.

Watson joked in response to being asked about a rumor that Jackson had grown two inches since being drafted:  But “if he did, we love it, and even if he didn’t … let’s build the legend. Yeah, he grew. Absolutely. He’s like 7 feet now … anyone coming up against him should be intimidated by his constant growth vertically, in height, and ability to play above the rim.”

In a recent interview, Jackson addressed the trade talk, saying, “I think if that was going to happen, it would have happened by now.” However, he also said: “I’m going to make the best of whatever situation that I’m presented with. If I’m traded to China, whatever, I’m going to come out, and I’m going to be happy and just try to make the best of it.”

Here are more notes from the Western Conference:

  • James Harden is more fit and fired up than ever, writes Sam Amick of USA Today.  “I know how exciting this season is (going to be, and) I know how important it is, so I’m going to take full advantage of it. I have a lot of charity (events), a lot of things going on, but when I’m in that gym that’s kind of my getaway. That’s kind of when I’m locked in,” Harden said. The Rockets‘ 2017 postseason ended with concerns over Harden’s fatigue and stamina.
  • Shabazz Muhammad may have to settle for a short-term “prove-it” deal for next season, writes Michael Rand of The Star Tribune. Heading into the offseason, coach Tom Thibodeau used the word “optimistic” when discussing re-signing Muhammad. However, in July, the wing’s rights were renounced. On Wednesday, Timberwolves signee Jamal Crawford tweeted Muhammad, “c’mon back home.”
  • The mayor of Inglewood and the four other council members unanimously approved a revised agreement with a Clippers-controlled company to shrink the four-block area where an arena could be built so homes and a church aren’t displaced, reports Nathan Fenno of The Los Angeles Times. More than a dozen citizens had raised concerns about the potential arena before the vote took place.

And-Ones: Muhammad, Franchise Players, Sims

Free agent forward Shabazz Muhammad remains one of the most noteworthy names on the open market, and with still no deal in hand, the four-year veteran is looking to change agents, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link). If that sounds familiar, it’s because Muhammad just hired a new agent in the spring — the former Rob Pelinka client made the move to Rich Paul after Pelinka landed with the Lakers as their new GM.

As Wolfson adds in a separate tweet, at least six teams have checked in on Muhammad, but the former first-round pick entered free agency hoping to get a mid-level type deal, perhaps similar to what Patrick Patterson received from the Thunder (three years, $16MM+). At this point in the offseason, Muhammad will be hard-pressed to find more than a minimum salary deal, which explains why he’s not necessarily thrilled with Paul’s work.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the league:

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