HOUSTON – It sure doesn’t look like the Timberwolves will be content to just tread water until Ricky Rubio returns from his ACL injury. The promising team that appeared headed for a playoff berth when their star point guard went down in March is aggressively attacking free agency.
The Wolves are evidently getting ready to extend a four-year, $50-million offer to Portland swingman Nic Batum. But that’s just a start in Minnesota.
After the Wolves brass of owner Glen Taylor, G.M. David Kahn and coach Rick Adelman traveled to Seattle over the weekend to meet with retired guard Brandon Roy, that visit was enough to land Minny on a list of five finalists along with Chicago, Dallas, Indiana and Golden State.
The team also has plans to meet with Lakers free agent power forward Jordan Hill and are said to be trying to put together a trade with L.A. that could land Pau Gasol. Boston center Greg Stiemsma was flown into Minneapolis for a visit on Sunday morning.
But all indications are that Batum is the one on the front burner, according to Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
Batum, 23, was scheduled to fly from his home in France to Minneapolis to meet with team owner Glen Taylor, president of basketball operations David Kahn and coach Rick Adelman all of whom flew to Seattle to meet with retired two-time All-Star and unrestricted free agent Brandon Roy on Friday.
Batum presumably would give the Wolves what they still lack after drafting Johnson fourth overall in 2010 and trading that same summer for Michael Beasley, whose two seasons with the team ended Saturday when he became an unrestricted free agent after he did not receive an $8.1 million qualifying offer. Batum is a versatile perimeter player who can handle the ball, defend and shoot the three-pointer while playing both forward and guard positions.
He’s also a freaky athlete with really long arms. The Blazers likely will match any offer, although their discussions to offer Indiana restricted free-agent center Roy Hibbert a maximum $58 million contract could complicate their decision.
After getting a taste of being in the playoff race last season, the Wolves looking to take a full bite even while they wait for Rubio to recover.