You knew this was coming.
On the heels of Luol Deng agreeing to a buyout with the Los Angeles Lakers, he’s found himself a primary suitor for his services. And surprise-surprise, it’s the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Per The New York Times‘ Marc Stein, the Timberwolves have officially ‘launched’ their recruitment of another one of coach-president Tom Thibodeau’s former players:
The Wolves have launched their planned pursuit of @LuolDeng9, league sources say, after the veteran forward became a free agent by clearing waivers earlier this week
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) September 5, 2018
The Athletic’s Shams Charania confirmed the news as well, noting that the two sides are expected to meet soon:
Sources: Free agent Luol Deng will meet with the Minnesota Timberwolves within the next week as sides discuss potential deal.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 5, 2018
Jon Krawczynski, also of The Athletic, added that Minnesota has not tried hiding its intentions:
Wolves have made it clear to him that they want him. https://t.co/coKp2lr10V
— Jon Krawczynski (@JonKrawczynski) September 5, 2018
Consider this our shocked face, which actually looks more like an indifferent frown, because that’s exactly what it is. Thibs has a thing for his former players. He traded for Jimmy Butler. He signed Taj Gibson. He scooped up Derrick Rose. It only makes sense to bring in Luol Deng, wait for the New York Knicks to waive Joakim Noah, and then coax Ronnie Brewer and Richard Hamilton and Kirk Hinrich out of retirement.
Jokes aside, Deng actually makes some level of sense for the Timberwolves. They need wings. He hasn’t played much over the past two years, but he satisfies that fundamental quota. And really, he’d be the only the wing of theirs with the physical profile to play both the 3 and 4. Butler and Andrew Wiggins are better suited for 2-3 duty, though stashing either one of them at power forward for abbreviated periods should hardly be out of the question.
Other teams could technically join the race for Deng. None of them, though, will have the playing time available that Minnesota does. Rookies Josh Okogie and Keita Bates-Diop, plus James Nunnally, are their best reserve-wing options. Deng won’t have much competition to beat out.
My thing: What happens now if the Knicks stretch Noah? The Timberwolves do not have infinite roster spots and cutting one of their wings would be dumb. Is it possible that Thibs would be forced to pass on adding one of his former players? Time will tell. For now, it looks like he’s about to land one.