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2013 NBA Free Agency: Minnesota Timberwolves Pursuing Matt Barnes, Would Get Huge Boost Defensively

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Timberwolves have started free agency with a bang in addressing their primary need — shooting. By signing Chase Budinger and Kevin Martin, Minnesota’s guard rotation will look vastly different and much improved in 2013.

The next priority for the Wolves, according to KSTP News out of Minnesota, is to sign free agent small forward Matt Barnes. The 33 year old veteran has played for eight NBA teams, most recently with the Los Angeles Clippers last season.

Barnes, despite his age, is still an incredibly important asset on the court for whomever he suits up for. Last season in 25 minutes per game, Barnes averaged 10.3 points on 46 percent shooting, 4.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.0 steals and nearly a block per game. Barnes also posted his lowest turnover average since 2006.

The Wolves lost out on small forward Andrei Kirilenko, who forfeited the last year on his deal worth $10 million to become a free agent. Kirilenko actually did Minnesota a favor, giving them more money to spend this summer.

Barnes will likely take the spot of Kirilenko if signed and act as a defensive stopper on the perimeter. He is known for a style of play that’s not normally liked by many fans unless he’s on your team — just ask the fans of the Memphis Grizzlies.

The tenacity and grittiness that Barnes brings to the table would be an element that the Wolves have lacked out of any significant player over the recent years. With him, they have a legitimate defender for the more versatile guys in the league. Barnes will be able to focus on that type of role, rather than come in and be asked to fill it up.

The offensive ability of Barnes is often overlooked due to his strengths on defense. Still being able to shoot over 46 percent last season shows that he can contribute on that side of the ball as well. Barnes can do a variety of things on both sides and Minnesota is looking to swipe him off the market before anyone else has the chance.

The Wolves would be fortunate to sign the veteran forward and he would make the team better as a whole — not much more you can ask for out of a guy his age.

Ryan Heckman is a Senior NBA Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter  @ryanmheckman, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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