Teams shouldn’t be allowed to have this much talent and cap space at the same time, but that’s Minnesota’s reward for drafting so well. Ricky Rubio is their only major veteran on a second contract, so they’ll be free to chase whatever free agent they see fit.
And hot damn, is Kent Bazemore a fit. Tom Thibodeau will love his defense. He’s not as big as Luol Deng was, but they play the same way on that end. If you’re looking for a dark horse candidate for the player Thibs runs for 40 minutes per game, here’s your guy.
Bazemore at shooting guard would give Minnesota one of the best defensive backcourts in basketball, and it would also allow Andrew Wiggins to play small forward full-time. By the time those three and Karl-Anthony Towns reach their defensive potential, the Wolves might have the best unit in the league. They could devote their power forward slot entirely to spacing.
Hey, that’s another area Bazemore improves. He’s strictly a catch-and-shoot offensive player. That fits perfectly on an offense where Rubio, Wiggins and Towns are all going to hold the ball a fair amount. Bazemore is merely slightly above average at 35% for his career, but he’s trending up and made 39.3% on catch-and-shoot opportunities last year. Besides, the better these young Wolves get, the more open shots Bazemore will see.
And Bazemore couldn’t ask for a better situation. He barely hang around the league for his first few seasons. Now he has a chance to get some long-term financial security and play on a team where he won’t be asked to do more than he’s capable of like so many splashy free agent signings. Tom Thibodeau will get more out of him than any other coach, and he’ll get to be a part of a team that’s likely to win quite a few games in a few years.
This is the best fit in all of free agency. If both sides are smart, they’ll get a deal done on July 1st and not bother negotiating with anyone else. This should be a slam dunk.
Likely Contract: Four Years, $62 Million