After two years of ups and downs with the Warriors, Jordan Bell said he agreed to join the Minnesota Timberwolves in search of a bigger role.
The big man agreed to a one-year deal with Minnesota on the first day of NBA free agency, which reportedly is worth the veteran’s minimum of $1.6 million. The Warriors qualified Bell as a restricted free agent, but opted not to match the Timberwolves’ offer sheet after agreeing to acquire D’Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade following Kevin Durant’s agreement with the Brooklyn Nets, according to Bay Area News Group’s Mark Medina.
Bell told Medina he spurned “a couple of [other offers] on the table” because he’d have the chance to play more in Minnesota, with Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders offering Bell a distinct vision of his future.
“He was telling me the kind of player he thinks I can be,” Bell told Medina in a phone interview. “When a head coach tells you stuff like that, it makes you feel good to be wanted. I think we can do something special over there, especially with the young coach that we have.”
The Warriors paid $3.5 million to the Chicago Bulls for the pick used to select Bell in the second round of the 2017 NBA Draft. Bell played 14.6 minutes per night in 57 regular-season games as a rookie, and had a critical role in Golden State’s seven-game series win over the Houston Rockets in the 2018 Western Conference Finals en route to his first NBA title.
Bell’s second NBA season wasn’t as smooth, as he played nearly three fewer minutes per night and was suspended one game for charging candles he bought at a Memphis hotel to Warriors assistant coach Mike Brown’s hotel room. He averaged just under seven points in 13 minutes per game in a four-game sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals, but played just over four total minutes over the last three games of the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors.
Still, Bell told Medina he will fondly look back on his two seasons in The Bay. Bell also thinks his Warriors years will serve as a valuable learning experience next year and beyond.
“I’ll take what I learned from Golden State,” Bell told Medina. “I can bring a championship mentality and I know the stuff you go through with the ups and downs of a long season like that. I take what I learned from that team and try to share that experience.”
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The Warriors, meanwhile, appear to have moved forward. After drafting Bell’s possible replacement in Villanova’s Eric Paschall last month, Golden State agreed to a three-year contract with Kevon Looney and a one-year deal with former Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein.
Both Bell and the Warriors might continue to wonder what could have been, but both sides seem to have their shared tenure in the rearview mirror.