Ex-Badger Stiemsma to sign with Wolves
By JOAN NIESEN
LAS VEGAS – The Minnesota Timberwolves have agreed to terms on an offer sheet with restricted free-agent center Greg Stiemsma. His agent, Mike Naiditch, confirmed the agreement but said that no terms are yet available.
Stiemsma played in 55 games last season with the Boston Celtics, starting three. He averaged 2.9 points and 3.2 rebounds in 14.0 minutes per game. The 26-year-old native of Randolph, Wis., was undrafted out of Wisconsin in 2008, and he played on Memphis' summer league squad in 2009 and the Timberwolves' in 2010. The Timberwolves signed Stiemsma (6-11, 260) to a contract in April 2010 and waived him the next September.
He also appeared in games with the Sioux Falls Skyforce in three seasons, from 2009-2011, before being called up to the Celtics. In his one season of consistent D-League play, Stiemsma averaged 8.8 points and 7.1 rebounds in 2009-10.
The Timberwolves, whose effort to sign small forward Nicolas Batum away from the Portland Trail Blazers fell through on Wednesday, began their free-agent pursuit again in earnest this week. Although the team spent the early days of free agency focusing on wing players, owner Glen Taylor said that it would begin to focus on acquiring big men if its offer to Batum fell through. Stiemsma represents a move in that direction.
Stiemsma has never been anything but a bench player in the NBA, and that won't change with the Timberwolves. After waiving Darko Milicic on July 12, the team's roster boasted only one center, Nikola Pekovic, who is expected to start in 2012-13. However, the team desperately needed a backup, with Anthony Randolph gone and Anthony Tolliver still unsigned.
Naiditch said that there are many things about Minnesota that appeal to Stiemsma. He's comfortable with the location, which is close to his hometown, and he also believes that the current roster will provide good opportunities for him. He likes the direction that the team has gone in recently and its prospects, and he was also impressed with the Timberwolves' immediate interest in him.
"David Kahn called Greg one minute after free agency began," Naiditch said. "He's visited Minneapolis twice… it was just an ongoing growing of comfort from the beginning."
The Celtics are already over the salary cap, which would make them unable to match any contract totaling more than the bi-annual exception. The Celtics extended Stiemsma a $1.05 million qualifying offer before free agency began, which would have marked a nearly $300,000 raise from last season. They have three days to match the Timberwolves' offer, per league rules.
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