Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Wolves Make Another Major Trade

The Minnesota Timberwolves made some more room in their crowded backcourt on Monday by trading point man Sebastian Telfair, along with forwards Mark Madsen and Craig Smith to the Los Angeles Clippers for shooting guard Quentin Richardson.

Richardson is a veteran of 9 NBA seasons out of DePaul, and has spent time with the Clippers, Phoenix Sunx, and New York Knicks. He has had an active summer, sent from the Knicks to Memphis for Darko Milicic, and later sent to the Clippers for Zach Randolph. Richardson's $9.352M contract expires after the 2009-10 season. Even with the trade of Smith and Madsen, the Wolves have well over $20M in expiring contracts after the upcoming season to use in a highly-anticipated 2010 free agent class.

Richardson gives the Wolves their only true shooting guard with experience on the roster, joining 2009 draftee Wayne Ellington. Richardson averaged 10.2 points per game for the Knicks last year in 72 games, and is a career 11.5-a-game scorer on 40% shooting. However, in the Jerry Zgoda article, notice that basketball ops head David Kahn states that Richardson's deal "less an acquisition at this point rather than an ability to create roster flexibility." This means that the Wolves aren't done yet.

Telfair will back-up Baron Davis in LA, and leaves the Wolves after two pretty solid seasons. He averaged 9.8 a game last year, averaging 28 minutes and 4.8 assists per game. Smith's time would have been curtailed behind Corey Brewer, Al Jefferson, and Kevin Love. He leaves the Wolves after three seasons. Madsen was one of the most popular Wolves due to his all-out hustle, but his minutes were already severely-limited. He averaged just 6.1 minutes in 19 games last season.

How this plays with the Ricky Rubio situation remains to be seen. Kahn is currently meeting with Rubio's representatives in Spain to try to get the buyout fee (expected to be $6.5M) reduced. However, Kahn said this deal is not necessarily a foreshadowing to another deal involving Rubio. However, this one clears the way for Rubio and Jonny Flynn to get just about all the minutes at the point this upcoming season, unless Kahn deals for someone else this summer.

The Wolves clearly are not done. In this deal, they have created more flexibility for the remainder of this summer and at the end of next season in the contract department. They still need to decide on a coach, and it should be an active final months of the summer of 2009.

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