Minnesota Timberwolves 2016 free agency primer

Ryan Anderson and Luol Deng are two free agents who could appeal to the Minnesota Timberwolves this offseason.

Ryan Anderson and Luol Deng are two free agents who could appeal to the Minnesota Timberwolves this offseason.

On Thursday at 11:01 p.m. CT, NBA teams can start negotiating with free agents. They can't actually sign free agents until July 7, however. Nevertheless, July 1 basically starts the free-agent season.

Kevin Durant is the big name out on the market, and while he won't be coming to Minnesota (sorry to burst that bubble), there are moves the Timberwolves could make this season, especially with the salary cap rising and pretty much every team having money to send.

With that in mind, here's a quick look at free agency and how it pertains to the Wolves:

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Salary cap space

The salary cap is expected to jump from $70 million to $94 million with the luxury tax threshold at $113 million. Basketball Insiders estimated the Wolves could have between $26.8 million-$29.1 million in cap space while Spotrac has Minnesota's max cap space at around $31.1 million (note: this would be if they renounced all their free agents, i.e. cap holds, and exceptions, the latter of which includes its room exception and trade exception).

Own free agents

-- F Damjan Rudez

-- F Tayshaun Prince

Minnesota reportedly is going to decline the option on Rudez, who played only 277 minutes last season for the Wolves. Rudez has a cap figure of $1,199,000 for 2016-17. The 36-year-old Prince averaged 19.0 minutes per game last season for the Wolves. Minnesota is expected to look elsewhere for frontcourt help, but if things don't pan out it is doubtful Prince will have too many suitors and might still be available late in free agency at a low cost. Minnesota could make Prince a qualifying offer of $980,431.

Possible free-agent targets

Ryan Anderson

A stretch four, Anderson figures to command big bucks on the open market and have a myriad of suitors. The 6-foot-10 Anderson averaged 17.0 points and 6.0 rebounds for New Orleans last season while taking 359 3-pointers -- or 43 more than Minnesota's leader in 3-point attempts, Zach LaVine. Anderson made 36.6 percent of his 3 attempts last season and is a career 37.7 percent shooter from beyond the arc.

Luol Deng

Another big man (6-9) who shoots the 3 (256 in 2015-16 and had a career-high 333 in 2010-11) who also once played in Chicago under current Minnesota head coach Tom Thibodeau (and anyone who is available who previously played for Thibs will of course be mentioned, see: Jimmy Butler as well as a little further below). Deng played in Miami the last two seasons (after Chicago dealt him to Cleveland in January 2014). Last season he averaged 12.3 points and 6.0 rebounds while making 34.4 percent of his 3 attempts.

Mindaugas Kuzminskas

The 6-9 Lithuanian has held tryouts for NBA teams as he looks to cross the pond. He's spent the last three years with the Spanish team Unicaja. In 2015-16, he averaged 21.3 minutes, 12.0 points and 3.4 rebounds while making 37.7 percent of his 3-point shots, of which he averaged 3.3 per game.

Joakim Noah

If Minnesota wants to find some help for Karl-Anthony Towns inside, Noah would be a good fit. Of course, he also played under Thibodeau in Chicago and the Wolves have been mentioned as a possible destination for Noah ever since Minnesota made its head-coaching hire. He's not a big offensive threat, however, and is coming off a season in which he only played 29 games due to injury. Several teams are expected to make a run at Noah, including Milwaukee, Washington and New York, where his buddy Derrick Rose now resides. And, in fact, early reports are Noah is headed to the Big Apple.

Zaza Pachulia

Pachilia might not be a sexy signing for a team, but he's willing to do a lot of the little things and muck it up inside. He's a decent defender, an efficient scorer and good rebounder. He's just the kind of player that can help a young team and also make any team better.

Dave Heller is the author of the upcoming book Ken Williams: A Slugger in Ruth's Shadow as well as Facing Ted Williams Players From the Golden Age of Baseball Recall the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived and As Good As It Got: The 1944 St. Louis Browns