Wolfson: Jamal Crawford, Chuck Hayes on Wolves' radar in free agency
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Depending whom you ask and whether the Minnesota Timberwolves use their amnesty clause to create more salary cap space, as they're widely expected to do, they will have flexibility when NBA free agency begins.
In other words, they are in a position, if they so choose, to add a high-profile player.
ESPN's Bill Simmons, who is well-connected to enough NBA power-brokers, has the Wolves with $11.4 million in cap space if they use the amnesty clause on guard Martell Webster, who has $10.9 million remaining on his deal.
As of late Monday morning, here's where they sit, according to league sources and various reports:
• Monday was the first day the Wolves could talk to free agents, and they planned on doing so with 30-year-old shooting guard Jamal Crawford. A strong case can be made that a 3-point threat who can also handle the ball is the Wolves' biggest need. Crawford, while limited defensively, can do a lot offensively. His agent, Andy Miller, when asked if the Wolves were a serious contender for his client, said, "Yes." He added that Crawford "believes they are a young, up-and-coming team with good pieces and a great coach."
• Chuck Hayes, a favorite of new Wolves coach Rick Adelman when they were together in Houston, is on the Wolves' radar. They spoke with his agent, Calvin Andrews, last Thursday, which was the first day teams could reach out to agents. Hayes is the sort of tough-minded, grind-it-out player the Wolves so desperately need. In Adelman's offense, he often played the "5" and thus could be on the floor plenty with a combination of Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, Derrick Williams and Anthony Randolph.
• A team source indicates the Wolves, maybe above everyone else, would love to land forward Shane Battier. Like Hayes, Adelman is a huge admirer when Battier busted his butt for him with the Rockets. David Kahn, the Wolves' president of basketball operations, made it a point late last season and early in the offseason to emphasize how badly a veteran leader is a must-have. Well, Battier is the best available. The problem is Miami is reportedly set to offer him its full midlevel exception. If winning right away is the top priority, the Wolves' chances for landing Battier are slim.
• According to Yahoo! Sports, the Wolves are entertaining the idea of offering restricted free-agent center DeAndre Jordan a monster offer sheet. But there's no reason to suggest that the Clippers won't match.
• According to espn.com, the Wolves are doing background work on restricted free-agent shooting guard Arron Afflalo. Of every possible on-the-court addition, he makes the most sense. But the Nuggets are so far under the cap -- much like the Jordan situation -- it's hard to see them not matching any offer.
• Shooting guard Von Wafer, who averaged nearly double-figures and made 39% of his 3-pointers for Adelman in Houston in 2008-09, would like to hear from the Wolves.
• ESPN's Marc Stein also has the Wolves doing their due diligence on Portland shooting guard Brandon Roy. If the Blazers use their amnesty clause on him, the Wolves would be in a position to bid for his services.
Wolves owner Glen Taylor, who has lost a lot of money the last couple seasons, is still willing to spend for the right piece(s). He did for Adelman and will do it again.
A team source said they want to minimize the damage of giving their No. 1 pick to the Clippers next June as much as possible. So, the more wins they have, the lower that pick will be. Making a move or two before the season starts later this month, in theory, would help that cause.