MINNEAPOLIS — In a move that clears more salary cap room to finalize Minnesota’s roster, the Timberwolves on Sunday waived center Grieg Stiemsma and forward Mickael Gelabale.
The decision, which doesn’t come as much of a surprise, frees up at least $3.6 million. The organization had until July 17 to make a decision on Stiemsma before his $2.7 million for next year became guaranteed and would’ve owed Gelabale at minimum $915,852.
But that cash now can go toward meeting Minnesota’s two biggest remaining offseason needs: retain restricted free agent center Nikola Pekovic and pick up a defense-oriented wing, either off the free agent market or via a trade.
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Stiemsma’s departure puts even more of a premium on the former goal, which was one the Timberwolves’ foremost priorities well before the previous season came to a close. According to multiple reports, they offered over the weekend a four-year contract to Pekovic that could be worth as much as $12 million annually.
With Pekovic, power forward Kevin Love and others missing substantial time with injury, Stiemsma saw action in all but six of Minnesota’s games last season. A free-agent get who began his NBA career in Boston, the 6-foot-11 Wisconsin product averaged 15.9 minutes, four points and 3.4 rebounds.
Gelabale returned to the NBA after one season in the NBA D-League and three more spent overseas. The 6-7 Guadeloupe native was signed to a pair of 10-day contracts this past January then inked for the remainder of the 2012-13 season.
He, too, saw ample playing time — 17.9 minutes per contest that yielded averages of five points and 2.8 rebounds.