7/2/2018 2 Comments
By: Dan Slaubaugh
The Minnesota Timberwolves Monday signed an old friend. According to Yahoo Sports’ Shams Charania, Anthony Tolliver is returning to the Twin Cities on a one-year, $5.75 million dollar contract.
Tolliver, 33, is expected to fill the role Nemanja Bjelica, whose qualifying offer was consequently withdrawn from the Timberwolves, played last year for the Timberwolves in 2018-2019. Tolliver, however, could give the Wolves something Bjelica struggled providing -- consistency.
A career 38-percent three-point shooter, the 6-foot-9 forward put together one of the better campaigns of his career with Detroit last season, where he averaged 8.9 points across 22.2 minutes while knocking down 2.0 three-pointers at an impressive 43.6 percent clip -- 7th best in the NBA. He' shot at least 3.5 attempts per game every season since 2012-2013, hitting between 36-44 percent every year.
This will be Tolliver's second stint with Minnesota after playing a key bench role from 2010-2012. The sharpshooter was relied on to provide floor spacing and perimeter shooting for the Timberwolves then. Eight years later, his role will be identical, but rather on a team with two perennial all-stars and a stealthy supporting cast.
The former Creighton grad has some old-school ball in him. He’s tough, not afraid to dive on the floor for loose balls, and possesses a knack for making winning plays. He’s the definition of a "Thibs guy".
How can you not love those high, geeky-looking socks?
Not only is Tolliver just a good basketball player, but also a great veteran presence in the locker room, and a player who’s appeared to be loved by everybody on the team wherever he’s been. With 18-year NBA vet Jamal Crawford on his way out, Tolliver will bring much-needed leadership to the locker room with his esteemed character.
The signing suggests Head Coach and President of Basketball Operations Tom Thibodeau wants to play more small ball next year as Jimmy Butler, Anthony Tolliver, and Keita Bates-Diop are able to guard both 3’s and 4’s. Successfully defending the perimeter is vital in the modern NBA, and the Timberwolves will be improved in that area after adding length and versatility in those positions. As a result, this will allow Tom Thibodeau to give Taj Gibson more rest next season after averaging a career-high 33.2 minutes per game at 33 years of age.
In the hopes of taking the next step as a franchise (meaning advancing past the first round of the playoffs), the Timberwolves have been active through the first two days in free agency bringing back Derrick Rose on a one-year, $2.1 million deal, and now Anthony Tolliver. This leaves them with roughly $3 million left to spend in free agency, in what we expect to go towards another wing shooter. Among names the Wolves have reported having interest in: Wayne Ellington, Dante Cunningham, Vince Carter, and Corey Brewer. Inking any of the listed names would be the icing on the cake in an offseason the Timberwolves weren't supposed to be highly active in.
“Versatility is sort of the buzzword now, “Thibodeau said before June’s NBA Draft. “You need guys who can play multiple positions and fit into a team.”
After acquiring the likes of 6’4 Josh Okogie, 6’9” Keita Bates-Diop, and 6’9” Anthony Tolliver, Tom Thibodeau has successfully delivered plenty of said "buzzword" to the Timberwolves so far this offseason.