The Timberwolves made some news late Wednesday night that is sure to excite both of their remaining fans, signinged Al Jefferson to a five-year deal for $65 million. The deal will keep Jefferson in Target Center through 2012-2013 and is the single largest justification for one-fifth of the trade of Kevin Garnett.
Which is good. Because they followed that signing by throwing another fifth of it into the trash.
Give credit to the dailies for noting that Wolves chose not to pick up their 4th-year contract option of Gerald Green, another player from the Celtics who came over in the Garnett trade. By not exercising their option (one designed to keep young, talented players affordable), the Wolves essentially granted Green unrestricted free agency at the end of the year.
He’ll be a free agent as a 22- year-old, because, like Jefferson, Green was drafted by the Celtics right out of high school. He’s played in the NBA for just two years, and last year the 6’ 7” swing man averaged over 10 points and 22 minutes with the Celtics. Presumably, that was enough to make him desirable for the Wolves. Desirable enough to include him in the Garnett deal.
And apparently, their opinion changed this preseason. Britt Robson pointed out that Green’s +/- rating this preseason was abysmal, and I’ll admit I wasn’t impressed with his performance on Friday night at Target center. On the other hand, he was one of the Wolves set to get increased minutes and benefit from the trade of Ricky Davis, and likely trade of Antoine Walker. The Wolves were poised to “See What He Could Do”.
Not anymore. Refusing to pick up this option changes everything. As an unrestricted free agent, he has no future role. And as someone with no future role, there’s no reason to invest floor time in him this season. No future, no present, and no past. By refusing to pick up this option, the Wolves essentially robbed themselves of an asset
Now, one could argue that maybe Green wasn’t an asset. He certainly hasn’t looked like one in training camp. But he WAS an asset in late July, right? And five weeks in Istanbul, playing with a new team, probably shouldn’t change that. So either the Wolves didn’t do their homework three months ago, or they messed this one up.
And even if they Wolves realized he wasn’t an asset, they could’ve done something about that before the rest of the league caught on. If there is some personal issue that we don’t know about it, move him. Include him as a sweetener to get Antoine Walker off the roster, or for another team to take Juwan Howard’s contract over.
It looks like it’s appropriate to celebrate the quick success of one of the KG5. But let’s not be so blinded by the fireworks that we miss the other side of the ledger. The Wolves record, before the season starts, already stands at one win and one loss.