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Report: Cole Aldrich bolts Clippers, signs three-year, $22 million deal with Timberwolves

Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Clippers

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 03: Cole Aldrich #45 of the Los Angeles Clippers claps during a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center on February 3, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

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Last season, Cole Aldrich was quietly impressive backing up one of the best centers in the game — DeAndre Jordan of the Clippers.

The Timberwolves are betting he can do that same thing behind Karl-Anthony Towns.

Minnesota snapped up the center entering his seventh NBA season, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

That’s a great price for a quality rim-protecting center who does well against second units. Last season Aldrich averaged just 5.5 points and 4.8 rebounds a game, but he played just more than 13 minutes a night as Doc Rivers leaned on Jordan and some small ball lineups. But Aldrich did well defensively in the paint, shot 59.6 percent from the floor, grabbed 19.6 percent of the available rebounds, and had a PER of 21.3.

I’m surprised a team in need of rim protection didn’t jump in and offer him more already. This is a smart move by Tom Thibodeau and his group.

The Clippers have now lost another of their free agents and part of their depth. Already Jeff Green left for Orlando, and Jamal Crawford is looking at other teams and not likely to return to Los Angeles. Now Aldrich is gone. The only guy they kept was Austin Rivers, and they overpaid a little to keep him.

The Clippers were thin last year; all these defections make that long-time Los Angeles issue worse.

Meanwhile, every move Minnesota makes has you thinking they are going to make a leap this season.