30 teams in 30 days: New faces have T-Wolves poised to end playoff drought

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30 teams in 30 days: New faces have T-Wolves poised to end playoff drought

We’ll take a look at all 30 teams in the next 30 days as they prepare for the 2017-2018 regular season, which is when the real fireworks begin! Today's team: The Minnesota Timberwolves. 
 

The days of being young, on-the-rise Timberpups seem to be giving way to a more experienced, battle-tested group that should be good enough to get the Minnesota Timberwolves in the playoffs this season after more than a decade.
 
“We knew going into the offseason we had a lot of holes to fill,” Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau, told CSNNE.com. “We were pleased with our young players have developed. We wanted to surround them with the right kind of players.”

Thibodeau, who doubles as the team’s president of basketball operations, made one of the biggest offseason splashes in trading for one of his former players in Chicago, Jimmy Butler.
 
Not only did Minnesota add one of the best two-way players in the NBA, but a bona fide leader for a team that’s long on talent but painfully shallow when it comes to experience in this league.
 
“He’s just entering his prime,” Thibodeau said of Butler. “He’s a complete player, plays both sides of the ball. And his veteran leadership … he’s already gone through a lot of the things Karl [Anthony-Towns] and Andrew [Wiggins] are just starting to go through. That’ll be very beneficial to those two guys.”
 
Indeed, Towns and Wiggins showed great promise last season.
 
But the lack of experience Thibodeau spoke of really stood out at the absolute worst time – the fourth quarter - in a lot of games.

Of those 14 teams that didn't make the NBA playoffs last season, only Charlotte (14) and Philadelphia (14) blew more leads going into the fourth quarter of games, than Minnesota (12).
 
“We definitely have to do a better job of finishing games, for sure,” said Thibodeau, a former Celtics assistant coach. “I think having more guys who have been in those situations, found success in those situations, is really going to help us, hopefully, get over the hump this season.”
 
In addition to Butler, the Timberwolves added point guard Jeff Teague and one of the game’s all-time great sixth men in Jamal Crawford.
  
It all adds up to a Timberwolves team that’s growing up before our eyes, a team that’s poised to end a 13-year playoff drought.
 
Key free agent/draft/trade additions: Jimmy Butler (Chicago); Jeff Teague (Indiana); Jamal Crawford (Atlanta); Taj Gibson (Oklahoma City).
 
Key losses: Ricky Rubio (Utah); Zach LaVine (Chicago); Kris Dunn (Chicago).
 
Rookies of note: Justin Patton.
 
Expectations:
50-32 (2nd in the Northwest Division, fifth in the West).
 

Jamal Crawford agrees to two-year deal with Timberwolves

Jamal Crawford agrees to two-year deal with Timberwolves

LAS VEGAS - The Minnesota Timberwolves were in desperate need of a scorer off the bench. Jamal Crawford has made a living doing just that.

Crawford reached agreement with the Timberwolves on a two-year deal Saturday, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because he cannot be signed until he clears waivers.

The cap-strapped Wolves only had the room exception left to use for the deal, worth about $4.2 million for the upcoming season. The second year is a player option.

The 37-year-old Crawford averaged 12.3 points in 82 games for the Clippers last season. He was traded to Atlanta to help make room for Danilo Gallinari and reached a buyout agreement with the Hawks.

It continues an aggressive summer for the Timberwolves and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau, who acquired three-time All-Star Jimmy Butler in a trade with the Chicago Bulls, signed free agent point guard Jeff Teague and veteran forward Taj Gibson to remake a roster that won just 31 games last season.

The flurry of activity left the Wolves with an imposing starting five, but very little off the bench on the wings behind Butler and Andrew Wiggins.

Crawford has long been one of the league's microwave men - a player who can come off the bench cold and warm up quickly. He has won the NBA's sixth man of the year award three times, most recently in 2015-16.

His scoring average last season was the lowest since 2002-03 and he is a career 35 percent shooter from 3-point range. So the Wolves still have some holes to fill with a roster that now has 11 players. They have almost no cap room left to sign free agents, so the remaining deals will either have to be for the veteran's minimum or via trades.