Minnesota Timberwolves

And-Ones: Cap Room, L. Sanders, R. Smith, RFAs

The Sixers, Nuggets, Nets, Thunder, and Lakers have the most cap room still available, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders details. In addition to those five clubs, the Timberwolves, Suns, Jazz, Celtics, Pacers, and Bucks also have some wiggle room remaining. While some of those clubs could use that cap space to try to sign a free agent like J.R. Smith or Lance Stephenson, I’d expect many of those teams to stay well below the cap throughout the year. Remaining $10-15MM below the cap would allow a team to accommodate a mid-season salary dump, potentially picking up a draft pick or two in the process.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the NBA:

  • Larry Sanders, who has been working out and is considering an NBA comeback, may be willing to play for a minumum-salary contract, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders (via Twitter). It remains to be seen whether a team will take a flier on the former Bucks big man.
  • Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders identifies a few players who will be under pressure to perform in 2016/17 due to big new free agent contracts or roles that changed as a result of other players’ deperatures.
  • Former Louisville guard Russ Smith, who appeared in 15 games for the Grizzlies last season, has accepted a $1MM contract offer from Galatasaray, according to international basketball reporter David Pick (via Twitter). Mete Budak of Eurohoops pegs the former second-round pick’s salary at $850K, so the Turkish team may have included some bonuses in the deal.
  • Jesse Blancarte of Basketball Insiders explains why he thinks the NBA’s restricted free agency system has problems, and puts forth some suggestions to potentially improve it. Donatas Motiejunas of the Rockets is the only RFA still on the market this summer.

Contract Details For Jordan Hill

  • The second year of Jordan Hill‘s two-year, $8.18MM deal with the Timberwolves is non-guaranteed, tweets Pincus.

Wolves Hoping To Add Players

  • The Timberwolves hope to add another wing player and a point guard before the season starts, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. Minnesota’s front office held a meeting today to discuss personnel.

Timberwolves Sign Jordan Hill

JULY 20: The Timberwolves have officially signed Hill, the team announced today (Twitter link).

JULY 13: The Timberwolves and free agent big man Jordan Hill have agreed to terms on a two-year contract, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (via Twitter). According to Wojnarowski, Hill’s new deal will be worth $8MM.Jordan Hill vertical

Hill, who will turn 29 later this month, appeared in 73 regular-season games for the Pacers last season, starting 11 of those games. In just over 20 minutes per contest, he averaged 8.8 PPG and 6.2 RPG, shooting 50.6% from the floor. A seven-year veteran, Hill previously spent time with the Knicks, Rockets, and Lakers.

For the Wolves, Hill is the second notable veteran big man to agree to terms with the team this month. Minnesota also struck a three-year deal with Cole Aldrich. While Aldrich and Hill aren’t exactly All-Star-caliber players, the team appears to be getting good value out of the duo. Based on the terms reported, Aldrich and Hill will average just over $11MM per season.

By comparison, Timofey Mozgov and Ian Mahinmi will be earning $16MM annually, while Bismack Biyombo will get $18MM per year — and all of those free agents signed longer-term deals than Aldrich or Hill.

[RELATED: Minnesota Timberwolves’ roster and depth chart at RosterResource.com]

Along with Aldrich, Hill will provide the Wolves with solid veteran depth in a frontcourt that also features Nikola Pekovic, Gorgui Dieng, Nemanja Bjelica, and reigning Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Update On NBA Traded Player Exceptions

Traded player exceptions, which we’ve explained extensively in a Hoops Rumors glossary entry, are a tool that over-the-cap teams can use to complete trades. For mid-season deals, when most teams are at or over the salary cap, these exceptions are typically used and created frequently.

This summer, however, with the salary cap increasing by more than $24MM and most teams choosing to use cap room rather than staying over the cap, trade exceptions have become scarcer — and less useful. In order for teams to actually use their available cap room to take on salaries or to sign free agents, those exceptions must be renounced.

Heading into the 2016/17 league year, teams around the NBA held a total of 29 trade exceptions. After the new league year officially got underway and the moratorium ended, the majority of those TPEs were lost. In total, 22 of the 29 previously-existing traded player exceptions were renounced or expired.

Earlier this month, only the Clippers, Cavaliers, and Thunder still held any TPEs, with Cleveland hanging onto five of them, and L.A. and OKC holding one apiece. Over the last week or so, a few new trade exceptions have been created, but with so many teams still under the cap, the full list is much shorter than it has been in past years.

Here’s a breakdown of the newly-created TPEs:

Charlotte Hornets

Amount: $1,666,470
Expires: 7/12/17
How it was created: When the Grizzlies signed Troy Daniels away from the Hornets, they did so in a sign-and-trade deal, allowing Charlotte to create a TPE for half of Daniels’ $3,332,940 salary.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Amount: $1,333,420
Expires: 7/15/17
How it was created: The Cavaliers created this TPE worth Sasha Kaun‘s 2016/17 salary when they sent him to Philadelphia without receiving any NBA salary in return.

(Note: The Cavaliers also created a $4,803,750 trade exception by signing-and-trading Matthew Dellavedova to the Bucks, but immediately used that exception to acquire Mike Dunleavy.)

Los Angeles Clippers

Amount: $1,209,600
Expires: 7/15/17
How it was created: When the Clippers acquired Devyn Marble from the Magic for C.J. Wilcox, the team actually used its old $947,276 TPE (acquired in January’s Josh Smith trade) to absorb Marble’s salary, then created a new exception worth Wilcox’s salary.

The traded player exceptions listed above have been added to our full breakdown of the TPEs available around the league. That list no longer includes the $2,038,206 exception the Thunder created last summer when they sent Perry Jones III to the Celtics — that TPE expired on July 14.

Our full list of TPEs also no longer features the following exceptions, all of which were renounced earlier this month when these teams went under the cap (expiry date listed in parentheses):

  • Atlanta Hawks: $947,276 (2/18/17)
  • Brooklyn Nets: $2,170,465 (7/13/16)
  • Chicago Bulls: $2,854,940 (2/18/17)
  • Chicago Bulls: $947,276 (6/22/17)
  • Denver Nuggets: $135,000 (2/18/17)
  • Detroit Pistons: $6,270,000 (6/29/17)
  • Golden State Warriors: $5,387,825 (7/27/16)
  • Golden State Warriors: $3,197,170 (7/31/16)
  • Memphis Grizzlies: $450,000 (2/18/17)
  • Miami Heat: $1,706,250 (7/27/16)
  • Miami Heat: $1,294,440 (7/27/16)
  • Miami Heat: $2,129,535 (11/10/16)
  • Miami Heat: $2,145,060 (2/16/17)
  • Miami Heat: $845,059 (2/18/17)
  • Miami Heat: $2,854,940 (2/18/17)
  • Milwaukee Bucks: $5,200,000 (7/9/16)
  • Milwaukee Bucks: $4,250,000 (7/9/16)
  • Minnesota Timberwolves: $5,000,000 (7/12/16)
  • New Orleans Pelicans: $102,217 (12/24/16)
  • New York Knicks: $1,572,360 (6/22/17)
  • Phoenix Suns: $578,651 (2/18/17)

Information from Basketball Insiders was used in the creation of this post.

Western Notes: Exum, Wroten, Rubio, Bjelica

Jazz coach Quin Snyder isn’t sure how much Dante Exum will be able to contribute after missing an entire season with a torn ACL, writes Jody Genessy of The Deseret News. Exum, who averaged 4.8 points and 2.4 assists as a rookie in 2014/15, was cleared for full-contact basketball activity last month. He decided not to join the Australian team for the Olympics and will concentrate on getting ready for training camp. “I think that’s an injury that he’ll be back from, but it’s not a simple thing,” Snyder said. “… We don’t really have a specific timetable on that as far as where he is, but I know he’s missed playing. He loves to play and I think this will be an opportunity for him to start doing that again and I know he’s excited and we’re excited for him.” Exum will face competition for playing time from George Hill, who was acquired in a trade from the Pacers last month, and Shelvin Mack, who became the team’s starting point guard late in the season after joining the team in a deal with the Hawks.

There’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Point guard Tony Wroten could agree to return to the Grizzlies, tweets international journalist David Pick. Memphis waived Wroten on Tuesday, but Pick hears that a reunion is still possible. It was the second trip to  the waiver wire this summer for Wroten, who was cut loose by the Knicks after the Derrick Rose deal.
  • Trade rumors involving Ricky Rubio have been simmering since the Timberwolves drafted Kris Dunn, but owner Glen Taylor expects the team to hold on to the Spanish point guard, relays Sid Hartman of The Star Tribune“I don’t see that as a likely possibility,” Taylor said of a deal. “I just think the coach, everybody, likes Ricky. I think we want him to come in and improve on his shooting. But his other things, he plays defense, he gets assists, he helps the others get better. He has some wonderful qualities. I think the coach wants to bring an assistant coach to help Ricky on his shooting and I think that’s where we’re going to start out and go and we’ll see how good Kris Dunn is.” Rubio has spent his entire five-year NBA career in Minnesota and is under contract through 2018/19.
  • Wolves power forward Nemanja Bjelica will have to miss the Olympics as he rehabs an injury to his right foot, according to Eurohoops. Doctors say the Serbian star needs at least three more weeks to heal before trying to play again. Opening ceremonies for the games in Rio de Janeiro are August 5th.

Kevin Garnett To Retire?

Kevin Garnett would like to play one more season, but he is unsure whether his body can endure the grind of the 82-game schedule, Steve Aschburner of NBA.com writes. “Yes, theoretically, he’d like to play. But he has some doubts of his knees holding up,” owner Glen Taylor said. “I think he’s worried if he can play. I worry about that too. When I talked to him last year, I said, ‘Is it your knees or what?’ He said, ‘It’s my whole leg.’ ” Garnett also told Taylor that he’d really like to play next year because he expects Minnesota to make the playoffs.

New president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau said earlier in the week that he is giving Garnett as much time as he needs to make a decision because “the great ones deserve time.” Garnett has $8MM and one season remaining on his current deal and Aschburner notes that the team likely won’t use that cap space if he does retire, so it can wait on the big man’s decision.

Garnett’s agent, Andy Miller, told Aschburner that he hasn’t heard anything that would make him believe Garnett would not return. Aschburner notes that one of the reasons Garnett was willing to waive his no trade clause back in 2015 to come back to the Wolves was because the late Flip Saunders pitched Garnett with the idea of buying an ownership share of the franchise.

Taylor recently sold 15% of the franchise and he said he never had conversations with Garnett about a potential ownership stake. “I never participated in that. Kevin said it to some reporter and it got into the paper. I thought it was inappropriate for me to talk to him about it because he was a player. I never had that discussion with Kevin at all. But I sort of believed it because I assumed he was saying, that was his goal,” Taylor said. However, Taylor did not rule out the possibility. “I’m always open to something like that,” Taylor said, “because he would kind of represent a Minnesota owner.”

Taylor also insinuated that if Garnett decided to retire, a good portion of his $8MM salary would be made available to him via a buyout, so that the future Hall of Famer wouldn’t have to return for the money, Aschburner adds. Taylor knows retirement will be difficult for the power forward. “When he retires, he’s got to figure out a nice way to do it. I don’t know what it is, but I want to help him,” Taylor added. “The transition won’t be easy.”

Garnett saw only 14.6 minutes per contest over 38 games last season. The team went 14-24 in games he played and 15-29 in games he did not.

Thibodeau Giving Garnett Time To Make 2016/17 Decision

  • Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau tells Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe (Twitter link) that he’s waiting to hear from Kevin Garnett on whether or not he’ll play next season. “The great ones deserve time,” Thibodeau said of Garnett, who has one year and $8MM left on his contract with Minnesota.

Wolves Cautious About Free Agency

  • The Timberwolves are taking a cautious approach when it comes to free agency, according to John Krawczynski of The Associated Press (Twitter link). New Minnesota coach/executive Tom Thibodeau addressed the topic during a conference call with media members today. “It’s our first year; it’s important for us to be patient in evaluating the players that we do have,” he said, “but if it’s [necessary] for us to go after people, we will.” Thibodeau also expressed excitement about the addition of free agent Brandon Rush, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. The coach likes Rush’s versatility, but says he needs to improve his shooting.

Free Agent Notes: Timberwolves, Wizards, Randolph

The Timberwolves offered veteran small forward Luol Deng a three-year contract at $12MM per season, according to Darren Wolfson of KSTP Radio (Twitter link). Head coach and president of basketball operations Tim Thobideau refused to fully guarantee the third year, Wolfson adds. In the end, the Timberwolves didn’t come close to signing Deng, as the former Heat starter agreed to a four-year, $72MM contract with the Lakers.
In other news regarding free agency:
  • The Wizards have interest in re-signing shooting guard Alan Anderson and will meet with him this weekend, league sources told J. Michael of CSNmidlatlantic.com (Twitter links). The meeting is expected to take place in Las Vegas, Michael adds. Anderson, who made $4MM last season, appeared in just 13 games with the Wizards after undergoing a second surgery on his left ankle. The previous season, he played in 74 games with the Nets and averaged 7.4 points in 23.6 minutes.
  • Shooting guard Brandon Paul is drawing major interest around the league after some strong performances for the Hornets’ summer-league team, Sportando tweets. He’s averaging 15.3 points and 7.3 rebounds through four games in the Orlando Summer League. The 6’4” Paul went undrafted in 2013 out of the University of Illinois and has been playing for a Spanish league team, FIATC Joventut.
  • Forward Anthony Randolph will remain in Europe and sign a one-year deal with Spain’s Real Madrid, a source told Marc J. Spears of ESPN.com (Twitter links). Randolph received interest from the Mavericks this summer, Spears adds. The contract will be the $1.5MM-$2MM range, international journalist David Pick tweets. The 6’11” Randolph hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2013/14 season, when he appeared in 43 games with the Nuggets.
  • Power forward Willie Reed has drawn interest from the Warriors, Spurs, Heat, Thunder, Timberwolves and Pacers, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders tweets. Reed, an unrestricted free agent, averaged 4.7 points and 3.1 rebounds in 10.9 minutes over 39 games with the Nets last season.
  • Free agent center Robert Sacre, who played the last four seasons with the Lakers, has drawn interest from the Timberwolves and Rockets, Wolfson reports in a separate tweet.

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