Brandon Roy is reportedly re-entering the NBA with the Minnesota Timberwolves, agreeing to a two-year, $10.4 million contract.
Roy had retired before the start of last season due to knee problems, attributing the pain in his legs to a lack of cartilage between the bones in both his knees. The 26-year-old played five seasons with the Portland Trailblazers before walking away from the league in 2011.
Over his five seasons, Roy averaged 19 points per game, with 4.7 assists and 4.3 rebounds. He won the Rookie of the Year award with Portland in 2007, where he was also a three-time NBA All-Star selection.
The question of whether or not the Timberwolves made a good move in signing Roy has nothing to do with talent. Roy has constantly proven he is a scorer, a competitor and a leader. The debate about Minnesota's addition is about his health.
And that is why Minnesota was the perfect destination for the shooting guard.
Timberwolves general manager David Kahn has done a fairly good job of reconstructing a young team. The rebuilding process can often be a long road, especially after the departure of a future Hall of Famer like Kevin Garnett.
Still, Kahn has solidified the team's new franchise player, Kevin Love, and has surrounded him with young talent. Although they haven't made the playoffs in nine seasons, they recorded their best record since the 2006-07 season last year, and have the youth to make vast improvements over the next two seasons.
Last season, the Timberwolves were the second-youngest team in the NBA. Minnesota's average age (with Roy included) is 25.5 years old, with only two players on their roster over the age of 28.
This framework is perfect for a player like Roy. It is unlikely that he will be able to return to his All-Star caliber level, especially if he does not treat his knee condition with care. By suiting up in Minnesota, he will be able to give the younger talent around him more playing time, and give himself more time to rest as he transitions back into the league. He can focus on his body, not worried about the burden of a starter's minutes, but can contribute as a role player off the bench.
Roy also has the fortune of leaving another burden, too. No longer will the shooting guard have to deal with the pressure of carrying a team like he did in Portland. Make no mistake, the Timberwolves are Love's team, and that's something Roy will welcome with open arms.
Love will take the pressure off Roy as the offensive focus and a persistent rebounder. Without the pressure to constantly create shots for himself or force his way to the basket, Roy is much more likely to last a full two years in the NBA than had he been expected to take on his former role from Portland.
He also will have an easier time of filling his role as a scoring option thanks to rising star Ricky Rubio. The 21-year-old point guard quickly solidified himself as a starter in Minnesota, and has turned a lot of heads with his playmaking ability. Rubio, who averaged 8.2 assists per game last season as a rookie, will make Roy's workload much easier on the offensive end.
With his ability to get into the lane and crafty passing skills, Rubio does a great job of spreading the floor. This extra room helps role players like Roy get extra space to maneuver, which goes a long way for a player monitoring knee problems.
Thanks in large part to a young core of talent consisting of Love, Rubio, Derrick Williams, Wes Johnson and Nikola Pekovic, Roy will be able to slowly transition back into the NBA. At the same time, some of these young players, along with newly-drafted rookie Robbie Hummel, will be able to learn from Roy's experience. He is known for having a positive impact on the floor and in the locker room, most notably for erasing the "jailblazers" nickname from Portland.
Health concerns are never taken lightly in the NBA. It is highly unlikely Roy comes in and makes an immediate, drastic impact considering his knee problems. However, he is in a perfect situation to find a role as a dependent scoring option while sharing necessary time with younger players.
With only a two-year deal worth just over $10 million, the Timberwolves aren't exactly taking a gigantic risk here, either. While the former Portland All-Star could end up fizzling out due to health concerns, his potential upside makes him valuable to the franchise.
It could be a risk that doesn't pan out. But Roy is still a risk worth taking.
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