Wolves reaffirm interest in Stiemsma
July, 7, 2012
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com
The Minnesota Timberwolves reaffirmed their interest in restricted free agent center Greg Stiemsma during a Saturday chat with his representatives, but a league source indicated that the team has still not made a formal offer while it awaits salary cap clarity as the team also pursues restricted free agent Nicolas Batum.
The Celtics have a $1.05 million qualifying offer to Stiemsma, making him a restricted free agent this summer. He visited with Minnesota at the start of the free agency moratorium, but progress has been slowed as the Timberwolves await word on how much money they'll have to spend if Portland does not match its offer sheet for Batum.
Other teams have expressed interest in Stiemsma since that time, but it benefits the Celtics if no other squad makes him an offer. Without owning Stiemsma's Bird rights, and handcuffed by the salary cap, Boston has only its biannual exception available to sign him at just about anything above the qualifying offer.
There's a misconception that Boston can match any offer. They absolutely have the right of first refusal, but the Celtics can only sign him with available room. That biannual exception is the team's last chip and it's likely pegged for a backup wing player to offset the loss of Ray Allen to the Heat (though a minimum salary signing there might afford Boston some additional flexibility in how it uses the biannual).
Stiemsma averaged 2.9 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks over 13.9 minutes per game in his rookie season. Injuries to Boston's frontcourt often left him the first big off the bench late in the season and -- thin on pure centers at the moment -- would certainly have a role with the Celtics next year if they can bring him back.