Based on some previous reporting — and Thibodeau’s love for acquiring his ex-players — a lot of people saw this coming. Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose, and Taj Gibson all play for the Minnesota Timberwolves after playing under Thibodeau in Chicago. Logically, Deng will be frontcourt depth, but it’s hard to envision the 33-year-old playing any sort of major on-court role for Minnesota.
It’s always sad watching once-great athletes enter the twilight of their careers. For sports fans, it feels like we’re losing a piece of ourselves. Father Time doesn’t discriminate, and though some athletes push the envelope into their 40s, we all sadly have a shelf life.
In the past two years, fans have seen notable figures like Tim Duncan, Amar’e Stoudemire, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce retire. Here are 10 well-known players who may follow in their footsteps in the next year.
10. Vince Carter
I sat down with V.C. on draft day to discuss his future, and at the time it was uncertain. He was waiting for LeBron to announce his decision so the rest of the league could react and adjust their free-agency plans accordingly. Once LJ finally did so, the Hawks scooped Carter, signing him to a one-year deal. Atlanta wanted “Carter around its young locker room,” per Woj. The 41-year-old will receive $2.4 million for the season — keep getting them checks! Carter is no longer the Vinsanity we all knew and loved, but he’s had a heck of a career, and he’s still a valuable piece. Last season, with Sacramento, he played in 58 games, averaging 17.7 minutes, 5.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game while shooting 34.5 percent from beyond the arc. The former No. 5 overall pick (1998, Golden State Warriors) has now played for eight teams.
Tom Thibodeau’s mission to turn the Minnesota Timberwolves into Chicago Bulls West may be inching closer to fruition.
Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic reported on Saturday that the Wolves will monitor the situations of ex-Bulls Joakim Noah and Luol Deng, who are both buyout candidates. Krawczynski also adds that if they are indeed bought out, Minnesota would “certainly” consider signing one of them to a minimum deal.
Noah and Deng, both 33 years old, are hugely negative assets at this stage of their respective careers and possess two of the absolute worst contracts in the NBA right now. The former is still owed a horrendous $37.8 million over the next two years by the New York Knicks, and the latter is still owed an equally brutal $36.8 million over the next two years by the Los Angeles Lakers.
However, what matters here is that the two former All-Stars used to play in Chicago under Thibodeau, who has brought in an almost laughable number of his former Windy City players to Minnesota (a list that includes Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson, and Aaron Brooks). At least one of those players might not be happy to hear this news though.
The Phoenix Suns will not be trading their No. 1 overall pick for Kawhi Leonard, but they may still be finding a way to factor into the proceedings.
Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic said this weekend that the Suns could get involved in a potential Leonard trade as a third team facilitator. Bordow goes on to add that a move they could make would be taking Luol Deng’s contract off the Los Angeles Lakers’ hands, provided that the Lakers attach one of their young players to the deal as well.
Deng, 33, holds what is widely viewed as the worst contract in the NBA right now: a four-year, $72 million albatross that is only halfway complete. Making matters worse is that Deng was basically a healthy scratch last season (playing in just one game all year), despite his entire salary being fully guaranteed.
Granted, some might argue that the contracts of New York Knicks big man Joakim Noah or Memphis Grizzlies forward Chandler Parsons are worse. But it wasn’t too long ago that Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson literally laughed off a question about finding a taker for Deng’s deal, so the Suns could just be the Lakers’ manna from heaven here.
Deng’s $72 million contract is among the worst in the NBA and has long been regarded as so bad that it’s nearly untradeable. The Lakers were able to get rid of the Timofey Mozgov contract by attaching D’Angelo Russell to him in a deal with Brooklyn, but they had nothing left to entice anyone to take Deng and gave up on trying to trade him months ago.
The NBA trade deadline has passed, but we are far from the end of the player movement. It has become normal that a robust buyout market emerges after the deadline, as players who weren’t moved — or were moved to match salaries — are set free to sign with contenders for the minimum. These buyout players are valuable weapons for cap-limited teams in need of more depth.
Who will end up on the buyout market this year? Here are ten potential candidates of varying likelihood.
1) Derrick Rose, Jazz
Derrick Rose was sent to Utah as part of a three-way trade the Cavs made on deadline day. Reports have said he is likely to seek a buyout and receive one from the Jazz. If that happens, the Minnesota Timberwolves have been mentioned as a potential landing spot. He has great familiarity with his former coach Tom Thibodeau and ex-teammate Jimmy Butler, and is said to have interest in a reunion.
The Los Angeles Lakers would love to be able to trade away Luol Deng, but it does not sound like they even think that is possible.
Deng was signed prior to last season as part of a disastrous offseason by the front office. The Lakers signed Timofey Mozgov to a four-year, $64 million deal. They were able to move him by packaging him with D’Angelo Russell in a trade to the Nets. They also signed Deng to a four-year, $72 million contract, but they’re unlikely to find any takers for him.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on “Full Court Press” that the Lakers have essentially given up on the possibility of trading Deng.
“You talk to teams around the league, no one is bailing the Lakers out with Deng’s contract. They’re not,” Wojnarowski said, via Lakers Outsiders. “Teams have asked for multiple first-round picks. They’ve asked for Brandon Ingram. They’ll ask for Kyle Kuzma. The Lakers have essentially given up on the idea that they can trade Deng.”
Deng is still under contract for two more seasons after the current one at around $18 million per season. That’s a lot of money. The Lakers could waive him via the stretch provision, but the bottom line is they have a bad contract on their hands that they are unlikely to get rid of via a trade.