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Offseason Outlook: Minnesota Timberwolves

Guaranteed Contracts


  • None

Non-Guaranteed Contracts

Free Agents (Cap Holds)

Draft Picks

  • 1st Round (18th overall)
  • 2nd Round (58th overall)

Cap Outlook

  • Guaranteed Salary: $48,610,707
  • Non-Guaranteed Salary, Cap Holds: $31,835,772
  • Total (not including draft picks): $80,446,479

On the surface, the Timberwolves' 26-40 record suggests the 2011/12 campaign wasn't an overwhelming success. However, there were many encouraging signs for T-Wolves fans to take away from the season. The .394 winning percentage was actually Minnesota's best since 2005/06, and prior to Ricky Rubio's season-ending injury, the team was playing even better basketball, on the verge of contending for a playoff spot.

Rubio and Kevin Love are locked up for at least another three years, so now it's a matter of finding a supporting cast to surround the Timberwolves' two young stars. Having traded their lottery pick away, the Wolves aren't in position to add another young star to their core, but with some potential cap space and trade assets, the team has a few options heading into the summer.

The T-Wolves have a pair of players coming off rookie contracts in Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph, and will need to submit qualifying offers of $8.17MM and $4.05MM, respectively, to make them restricted free agents. I have my doubts about the team re-signing either player, so perhaps those qualifying offers won't even be made, though that's just my speculation. Either way, the club's decisions on Beasley and Randolph are crucial — with the qualifying offers or cap holds on the books for those guys, Minnesota won't be in position to make use of cap space, and will be limited to the $5MM mid-level exception when pursuing free agents.

The pursuit of free agents will be important for the Wolves, since it seems like their best chance at acquiring a shooting guard, which has been the team's most glaring hole in recent years. This year's free agent class is strong, with Ray Allen, Nick Young, Jamal Crawford, Jason Terry, and Leandro Barbosa among the players expected to be unrestricted FAs. For a couple of those guys, the mid-level exception should be enough, but if the T-Wolves want to make a strong play for someone like Allen or Terry, they could renounce their free agents and gain about $8MM in cap room.

While free agency is one avenue the T-Wolves will explore, the draft won't necessarily be a lost cause. Though they don't have their own pick, the Wolves acquired Utah's first-rounder, which will be 18th overall. Given this year's deep draft class, there should be some fairly appealing shooting guards or small forwards available for the Wolves at that spot — perhaps Terrence Ross, Dion Waiters, Moe Harkless, or Quincy Miller.

If the T-Wolves feel like they're close enough to contention that they prefer to bring in veteran talent rather than continuing to develop young players, a trade could be the best route. Besides their first-round pick, the Wolves also have a couple trade chips in Luke Ridnour and last year's lottery pick, Derrick Williams. I expect the team to keep Ridnour around at least until Rubio proves he's 100% healthy, and Williams' value isn't at its peak at the moment. But both players are assets the Wolves could use to fill other holes on their roster, if they can find the right deal.

At first glance, the Timberwolves' guaranteed commitments for 2012/13 – 10 players and $48MM+ – suggest there won't be much roster turnover this offseason, but Minnesota is definitely in position to make a few moves. I'm guessing the club won't find a trade offer it likes for Williams, and will look to the free agent market for a backcourt upgrade. A scenario in which the team re-signs Beasley, signs Crawford using its mid-level exception, and drafts a prospect like Miller or Ross isn't out of the question, and would make the T-Wolves a team to watch in 2012/13.

Storytellers Contracts and Sham Sports were used in the creation of this post.

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