A year ago, under the guidance of then-GM David Kahn, the Timberwolves' roster underwent a series of changes that required some creative cap management, as I wrote about at the time. The Wolves' basketball operations are now headed by Flip Saunders, but that doesn't mean the club's cap machinations have gotten any simpler.
When it was initially reported during the moratorium that the Wolves would be signing Kevin Martin and were unlikely to retain Andrei Kirilenko, it looked as if Minnesota would be an under-the-cap team, using cap space to sign Martin. However, since then, the team has reached a series of agreements and completed multiple deals that make it clear that's not the case.
The Martin signing became official yesterday, but it turned out not to be a signing at all, as the Thunder, Bucks, and Wolves participated in a three-way deal that saw Martin signed-and-traded to Minnesota, while Luke Ridnour was sent to Milwaukee.
Because the Wolves continue to act as an over-the-cap team, the club was allowed to take back 150% (plus $100K) of Ridnour's $4,320,000 outgoing salary. That works out to $6,580,000, so we can probably assume that will be Martin's first-year salary (it'll also be the amount of the Thunder's new trade exception). Throw in annual 4.5% raises and the total figure for Martin's new four-year contract works out to $28,096,600, which is right around the total initially reported.
Without cap space, the Wolves will have to use their non-taxpayer mid-level exception to sign Corey Brewer, which also makes sense, considering Brewer's deal was reported to be worth $15MM over three years. If the team were to commit its full mid-level amount to Brewer, with max raises, his contract would be worth $16,145,250 over three years, so he may not quite get the full amount, but it'll be close.
Word also broke yesterday that Ronny Turiaf will sign a two-year deal with the Wolves for $3.2MM, which works out to more than the veteran's minimum. Having used the MLE on Brewer, the Wolves figure to use their bi-annual exception to accommodate Turiaf's new salary. A two-year deal worth the full bi-annual exception would total $4,122,720, so Turiaf, like Brewer, appears to be getting a portion of the exception, rather than the whole thing.
The Wolves also re-signed Chase Budinger and are working toward bringing back Nikola Pekovic. Since the team holds Bird rights for both players, no mid-level-type exception is required to accommodate their new salaries, as they could be offered any amount up to the max.
The Timberwolves' spending power is reduced slightly by the fact that the Martin sign-and-trade creates a hard cap of $75,748,000 for 2013/14, but even after re-signing Pekovic, the club should have plenty of breathing room. If we assume starting salaries of $5MM each for Budinger and Brewer, and $1.6MM for Turiaf (the actual figures may be a little different), the 2013/14 payroll will sit at about $56MM for 13 players. Even adding a starting salary of $12MM for Pekovic to that figure would bring it up to about $68MM, leaving more than $7MM in space before the team approaches its hard cap.
While there are still a few more steps required before all the Wolves' moves are finalized, the team has ultimately found a creative way to bring back existing talent and bring in new talent, having obtained more spending flexibility by remaining over the cap rather than clearing cap room.
Storyteller's Contracts was used in the creation of this post.