Storyline: Shabazz Muhammad Free Agency

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The Muhammad situation has been the weirdest part of the team’s depth problems. While Muhammad isn’t exactly a positive impact player, Minnesota could at least rely on him to score inside, run the floor and crash the glass. He could generate big scoring games off the bench from time to time that way. He turned down a four-year, $40 million extension before the 2016-17 season. Sources say Muhammad believed a strong year plus a crazy flow of free-agency money would lead to him commanding as much as $20 million per season in his next deal. But severely misreading the market led to Muhammad deciding between trying to join the Los Angeles Lakers on a one-year deal or coming back to the Wolves. He decided to return to Minnesota for another go.

So now it’s mid-August and Muhammad — a 24-year-old who can score and should still be improving — remains a free agent and shows up on a lot of those “best remaining NBA free agent” lists. If he was hoping to cash in this offseason, that prospect seems far less likely by the day. Muhammad might be in a spot soon where he has to take a short-term “prove-it” deal in hopes of improving his leverage the next time he’s a free agent. That makes a tweet last night from another new Wolves signee — guard Jamal Crawford — pretty interesting. In it, he implores Muhammad to “c’mon back home,” presumably meaning back to the Timberwolves.

Here’s what Wolfson stated… “So I’m told Tom Thibodeau and Scott Layden both took part in exit interviews with the players. I am told they expressed to Shabazz Muhammad a strong desire to retain him. Now was that lip service? I guess that remains to be seen come July. I am told they told him yes we badly want you back, we really enjoy you as a player. we think you can help us long term. We want you back. I still say keep an eye on the Brooklyn Nets. Now a handful of teams will have cap space but keep an eye on the Brooklyn Nets. A reminder Shabazz Muhammad is a restricted free agent.”

“But right now I’m focused on being a Wolf and happy to continue being one,” he said. That’s a similar approach to the one Tom Thibodeau is taking. The Wolves coach and president of basketball operations said a decision on Muhammad is “down the road.” “We’re positioned great in terms of what we have for cap space, where we are with our team,” Thibodeau said. “We have to work like crazy the rest of the way, and we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

Dieng signed his new deal Monday, but an 11 p.m. deadline that night came and went without Shabazz Muhammad reaching an extension deal with the team. He will be a restricted free agent next summer. Asked if he is disappointed, Muhammad said, “Not at all. I’m still confident. Coach is still confident in me. In July, my rights are still here. They have the opportunity to sign me. So I love it here and want to be here long-term. We’ll see what goes down.”
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