Minnesota Timberwolves Rumors

And-Ones: Roberts, Spurs, Vucevic, Rubio

October 21 at 9:45pm CDT By Alex Lee

After his sit down with Michele Roberts, Tim Bontemps of the New York Post doesn’t get the feeling that the new NBPA head is on board with the idea of a gradual increase in the salary cap starting in 2016 (Twitter links). The alternative is to allow the cap to jump up after the 2015/16 season — Bontemps estimates a spike to over $90MM — due to the injection of the money from the league’s new TV deal. That increase, of course, could coincide with the free agency of superstar Kevin Durant.

Let’s take a look at what else is going on around the league on Tuesday:

  • It would be shocking if any of Bryce Cotton, Josh Davis or JaMychal Green were to end up on the Spurs’ final roster, writes Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. Cotton, Davis and Green all have partially guaranteed deals, but as our Expanded Roster Counts show, the Spurs already have 15 fully guaranteed contracts on the books.
  • A strong showing in 2014/15 would have likely netted Nikola Vucevic a more lucrative deal next summer than the one he agreed to earlier tonight, according to Grantland’s Zach Lowe. However, Lowe believes Vucevic’s shortcomings on the defensive end add risk for the Magic while also conceding the deal should be a fair one considering the rising cap (Twitter links).
  • Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated, also pointing to the increasing salary cap, writes that Vucevic’s extension compares favorably to the four-year, $48MM deal Utah’s Derrick Favors inked last October. Golliver adds that the pact eliminates any chance of a bidding war over Vucevic for the Magic next summer which could have resulted in an overpay.
  • Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities expects Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor to soon become more involved in extension talks for point guard Ricky Rubio (via Twitter). The Wolves reportedly upped their offer to four years, $48MM shortly after we heard that Rubio and Taylor had spoken several times on the phone. Wolfson, who speculates that a total offer of $52-54MM might do it, adds that Taylor’s loyalty to Rubio could “change the dynamic” of the talks (Twitter links here).

Western Notes: Wolves, Budinger, Nelson

October 21 at 2:56pm CDT By Chuck Myron

The Spurs have been a hallmark of stability over the years, but perhaps never more than they are now, with 14 of the 15 players who were on the team during the Finals last year still on the team, as Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick examines. While we wait to see if familiarity breeds success or stagnation, here’s more from around the Western Conference.

  • It seems at this point that Glenn Robinson III will remain with the Wolves for opening night, and J.J. Barea continues to impress the team with his preseason performance, as Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities hears (Twitter link). The Pistons are probably the “team to watch” regarding Minnesota’s apparent efforts to trade Chase BudingerWolfson adds.
  • Robbie Hummel is expected to make it to opening night with the Wolves, but with a guaranteed salary of just $880K, that’s not a certainty, and Hummel knows it. Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune has the details. “We have a lot of good players and camp has been real competitive, so every opportunity to get on the court is important,” Hummel said. “You try to stay ready, but it’s hard when you don’t play for a couple games, but it’s part of the job … even if there’s 15 guaranteed contracts, you want to go out and play well. Every night is an audition for another team.”
  • Jameer Nelson has a player option for the final season of the two-year deal he signed with the Mavs this summer, but he says he plans to stick with the team for the long term, as Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News observes.
  • Former Clippers owner Donald Sterling is streamlining his legal efforts, having withdrawn a suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against his wife, the NBA and Adam Silver to concentrate on his federal antitrust suit against the league, reports Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times. Sterling also faces the NBA’s counterclaim against him, Fenno notes.
  • A desire to have Sean Kilpatrick play for their D-League affiliate fueled the Warriors‘ decision to sign the undrafted shooting guard Monday, tweets Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle.

And-Ones: Wolves, Sixers, Pistons

October 20 at 7:15pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Timberwolves still have some decisions to make in order to get their preseason roster down from 17 players to the regular season maximum of 15. Minnesota began the process earlier today by waiving Kyrylo Fesenko. Out of the remaining players, Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune believes the two most likely candidates to go are Brady Heslip, who is in camp on a non-guaranteed deal, and Chase Budinger. The Wolves have been rumored to be shopping Budinger, but thus far haven’t been able to work out any deal.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • While the Sixers’ rebuilding efforts have been called “tanking” by some, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders argues that GM Sam Hinkie‘s plan is sound, and it could make the franchise a contender in a few years. Kennedy also notes that many of Philly’s fans are also on board with Hinkie’s efforts, and support the long-term outlook the franchise has adopted. “It’s really important not to take your eyes off what matters,” Hinkie said. “And what matters is not feeling great about yourself the 3rd of March, but to give yourself a chance to feel great about yourself the 3rd of June.”
  • Pistons president and head coach Stan Van Gundy believes that bringing in outside coaches to watch his team practice can be a valuable tool, David Mayo of MLive writes. Van Gundy finds that going outside for a fresh viewpoint can be enlightening, notes Mayo. Van Gundy added, “They don’t have the knowledge that we have on the inside. Sometimes that’s bad, sometimes that’s good. There’s good things with that, too, because sometimes you see what you expect to see, unfortunately. You try hard not to but we’re all guilty of it. And somebody new, who didn’t see practice and doesn’t have certain things they expect out of each guy, sees it with clear eyes. So I think that kind of stuff’s important.”
  • Joel Anthony is excited to be a part of the Pistons because he believes Detroit acquired him for his abilities, not for his expiring contract, Keith Langlois of NBA.com writes. “It makes things easier,” Anthony said. “That first trade [from the Heat to the Celtics] was obviously more difficult because of the history and all the time I spent in Miami. I’ve been fortunate to have those years over there and right now I’m just looking forward to this new chapter in my life as a professional basketball player.”

Timberwolves Release Kyrylo Fesenko

October 20 at 4:18pm CDT By Chuck Myron

The Wolves have waived center Kyrylo Fesenko, the team announced via press release. The five-year veteran was on a non-guaranteed contract, so Minnesota won’t be on the hook for what would have been a minimum salary. That leaves Brady Heslip as the only player with a non-guaranteed pact among the 17 players remaining on the team.

Fesenko was attempting to see his first regular season NBA action since the 2011/12 season, and he parlayed a summer league stint with the Wolves this year into a training camp invitation. Still, he faced long odds from the beginning of making it to opening night with Minnesota, which has 15 fully guaranteed deals, and the 27-year-old appeared in only one preseason game this month.

Wolves coach/executive Flip Saunders still must deal with a roster logjam if he wants to keep Glenn Robinson III, who’s with the team on a partially guaranteed arrangement. Saunders has denied rumors that the team is shopping Chase Budinger and insists there’s still a role on the team for J.J. Barea, another apparent trade candidate.

Wolves To Exercise Options On Three For 2015/16

October 19 at 2:10pm CDT By Chuck Myron

OCTOBER 19TH, 2:10pm: The Wolves confirmed the exercising of the options via Twitter.

OCTOBER 16TH: The Wolves are set to pick up their 2015/16 rookie scale team options on Anthony Bennett. Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad, as Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities hears (Twitter link). Bennett’s option will add more than $5.8MM to the team’s books for that season, while Muhammad will make in excess of $2MM and Dieng will be due nearly $1.5MM, as seen on our Rookie Scale Team Option Tracker. Minnesota has until October 31st to make the decisions official.

Bennett, the No. 1 overall pick from 2013, came to the team in the Kevin Love trade after a thoroughly disappointing rookie campaign. He went 0 for 15 from the floor over his first four games, and the 6’8″ forward wound up shooting just 35.6% in 12.8 minutes per game across 52 appearances last season. Still, he holds promise, as does Muhammad, the 2012 McDonald’s All-American MVP who was the 14th pick in that same 2013 draft. Muhammad saw just 7.8 MPG in 37 contests for Minnesota, which sent him on D-League assignment during the season. Dieng was the lowest pick among the three, at No. 21, but he probably had the best rookie campaign, grabbing 5.0 rebounds per night in 13.6 MPG over 60 games.

The options on all three would bring the team’s commitments to more than $36.4MM for 2015/16, but there are several decisions that stand to make that figure go up. The team is reportedly willing to shell out at least $48MM over four years in an extension for Ricky Rubio, while player options for Thaddeus Young, Chase Budinger and Corey Brewer total nearly $20MM put together.

Wolves Shopping Chase Budinger?

October 17 at 9:47pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

9:47pm: The Wolves haven’t had any talks with the Blazers yet about a possible Budinger-for-Robinson trade, as Wolfson hears, countering the earlier report (Twitter link).

9:40pm: Wolves president Flip Saunders was adamant that the team wasn’t shopping Budinger, Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune reports (Twitter link).

3:47pm: The Rockets have “zero interest” in absorbing Budinger’s contract, tweets Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

12:48pm: Portland isn’t shopping Robinson, Deveney clarifies via Twitter, suggesting that the onus would be on the Wolves or another team to convince the Blazers to give him up.

FRIDAY, 11:18am: The Blazers are also in the mix for Budinger, as Sean Deveney of The Sporting News hears, with Thomas Robinson a possibility to head to Minnesota in the deal (Twitter link).

THURSDAY, 9:35pm: The Pacers have also shown interest in Budinger, tweets Wolfson. With Paul George injured and Lance Stephenson gone in free agency, Indiana could use an outside threat on their roster.

6:35pm: Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News confirms the earlier report that the Pistons have inquired about Budinger’s availability. Goodwill also notes that the only player that Detroit has that would fit the salary requirements for trade would be Jonas Jerebko, whose $4.5MM deal will expire at season’s end.

3:58pm: The Wolves have gotten a few inquiries on a number of players, including Budinger, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities tweets. Wolfson also adds that his sources tell him the team isn’t actively shopping Budinger at this time.

3:49pm: The Timberwolves are shopping Chase Budinger, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports. According to Wojnarowski’s sources several teams, including the Pistons and the Rockets, have shown interest in the 26 year-old forward out of Arizona. I would also speculate that the Pacers might also have interest with Paul George most likely out for the season and Indiana in need of outside scoring threats. Both the Pistons and the Rockets are reluctant to take on Budinger’s deal which includes a $5MM player option for the 2015/16 season, and no trade is imminent, Wojnarowski notes.

Minnesota currently has an abundance of small forwards with Corey Brewer, Andrew Wiggins, Robbie Hummel, Glenn Robinson III, Anthony Bennett, and Shabazz Muhammad all in the mix at the three spot. The Wolves still have 15 fully guaranteed deals and one partially guaranteed deal on the books, and trading Budinger’s fully guaranteed contract could help the team lock down their regular season 15.

With Jodie Meeks being lost for two months in Detroit, and the Rockets needing depth behind Trevor Ariza, acquiring Budinger makes sense for either franchise if the price is right. Budinger’s lifetime numbers are 9.0 PPG, 3.3 RPG, and 1.3 APG. His career slash line is .428/.357/.806.

Extension Rumors: Leonard, Thompson, Cole

October 17 at 11:24am CDT By Chuck Myron

The deadline for teams to sign rookie scale extensions with their eligible players is two weeks from today, and while only six players came to deals last time around, that number has the potential to be much larger this year, notes Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Stein has more on many of those extension hopefuls that adds to the storylines we’ve been following throughout the offseason:

  • Kawhi Leonard, Tristan Thompson, and Norris Cole are among the players who are in active negotiations with their respective teams about rookie scale extensions, Stein reports. Klay Thompson, Ricky Rubio, Kemba Walker, Jimmy Butler, Reggie Jackson, Brandon Knight, Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris, Enes Kanter and Alec Burks are also in active extension talks, according to Stein, who advances earlier reports that all of them had engaged in talks.
  • Iman Shumpert and the Knicks are also discussing an extension, Stein writes, countering a report from a few weeks ago that indicated that the sides hadn’t engaged in talks and that New York was content to let the swingman hit restricted free agency next summer.
  • Klay Thompson’s camp is considering the idea of going after an offer sheet similar to the one the Mavs gave Chandler Parsons if Thompson and the Warriors don’t come to an extension this month, Stein hears. Parsons’ near-max deal runs three years and includes a player option and a 15% trade kicker. Rival GMs have expressed admiration for its structure and Rockets GM Daryl Morey pointed to the difficulty that trading such a contract would entail shortly after he decided against matching it. The player option would allow Thompson to hit unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2017, which is when Stephen Curry‘s deal is set to end, as Stein points out.
  • The Lakers have attempted to trade for Thompson in the past, Stein notes, though he doesn’t make any suggestion that they’re planning an aggressive push for the shooting guard if he becomes a restricted free agent next summer.

Western Notes: Mavs, Warriors, Thunder

October 16 at 8:56pm CDT By Chris Crouse

Dallas GM Donnie Nelson admits 5’7” point guard Yuki Togashi’s immediate future isn’t likely with the Mavs but rather with the team’s D-League affiliate, writes Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Nelson explains, “I’d say it’s a long shot at best for him to make [an NBA regular season] roster right now. But it’s an opportunity for him to make his dream come true in reality to play for the Legends and, like so many guys before him, to use this as a springboard to get in the league.”

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Golden State’s decision to not include Klay Thompson in a Kevin Love trade will determine the fate of the Warriors, Cavs and Wolves, opines Tim Bontemps of the New York Post. Golden State never wavered from its original stance of not breaking up its talented backcourt despite the appeal of bringing Love to the Bay Area, notes Bontemps.
  • Mavs big man Brandan Wright faces a pivotal year in his NBA career, writes Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News. Wright, who is in the final season of a two year, $10MM contract, has carved out a nice niche as a role-player in Dallas.
  • Reggie Jackson is the biggest “winner” from Kevin Durant‘s injury, writes Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman. Jackson, who the Thunder have until October 31st to offer an extension, will have an opportunity to showcase himself on the offensive end in Durant’s absence.
  • Durant underwent successful surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his right foot, the Thunder announced in a press release. According to the release, Durant will be re-evaluated in six weeks to determine his next step toward returning to action
  • The Wolves currently have a logjam at the small forward position and the team is rumored to be fielding offers for Chase Budinger to help pare down the roster to 15. One player who is looking likely to make the regular season roster is Glenn Robinson III, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities notes (Twitter link). According to Wolfson, Robinson, who is signed to a partially guaranteed deal,  has impressed the team during training camp.

Eddie Scarito contributed to this post.

Northwest Notes: Aldridge, Timberwolves, Billups

October 15 at 10:04am CDT By Chuck Myron

The Thunder have won the Northwest Division each of the past four seasons, but it’s conceivable that the team will receive a stiff challenge from the Blazers this year if Kevin Durant is slow to recover from the fracture in his foot. While we wait to see if there’s a competitive race in the Northwest, here’s the latest from the division:

  • Portland’s improvement last year was crucial to LaMarcus Aldridge‘s desire to continue playing for the Blazers, as he admitted in appearance with Justin Termine and Mike Dunleavy Sr. of Sirius XM NBA Radio, as Casey Holdahl of NBA.com’s Forward/Center blog transcribes. Aldridge added that was hoping to cash in on the NBA’s windfall of TV money when he passed on an extension to set up free agency next summer, but he suggests that he won’t try to sign a one-year deal this summer to become a free agent again in 2016, when the new TV deal starts. That jibes with a report from The Oregonian’s Joe Freeman, who heard earlier this month that the TV deal won’t affect Aldridge’s plan to sign a new long-term deal with the Blazers in 2015.
  • Timberwolves backup guard Mo Williams isn’t a fan of the NBA’s experiment with shorter games, as he tells Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune, who hears similar disdain for the idea from Corey Brewer and J.J. Barea“I come off the bench, man,” Williams said. “They need to put 50 minutes on that so my minutes would be up. I need more minutes, not less.”
  • Despite fielding interest from the several different teams, including the Nuggets, about taking on a coaching or front office role, Chauncey Billups has decided to join the ESPN crew as an analyst, reveals Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated. Billups cited a long-term commitment to broadcasting and said he’s not thinking of becoming a coach or executive.

Northwest Notes: Billups, Williams, Matthews

October 14 at 6:31pm CDT By Chris Crouse

The start of the regular season is just two weeks away and franchises are still trying to finalize their regular season rosters. Teams can carry up to 20 players during the preseason but need to pare that number down to 15 by October 27th. In the Northwest Division the current preseason roster counts are Jazz (17); Wolves (18); Thunder (18); Blazers (17); and Nuggets (18). A number of tough decisions still need to be made by GMs, and a number of the players who get waived may end up in the NBA D-League hoping for a shot at some NBA action later in the season.

Here’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets would love to bring Chauncey Billups into their front office, but it is unlikely to happen this season, writes Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post in his weekly mailbag. Billups made his preference to join a front office in some capacity known when he retired this summer.
  • Mo Williams is focused on contributing to a young Wolves team for the time being, but he admits that he has aspirations of coaching an NBA club one day, according to Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune. “I’ve got some years left in me,” said Williams. “But absolutely, they know that, a lot of coaches know it just because of my personality. It’s something when my legs say I can’t do it no more and guys like [Zach LaVine] and [Andrew Wiggins] keep coming into the league, I’ll probably have to start coaching.
  • Wesley Matthews doesn’t believe the end of his contract this summer will bring an end to his time with the Blazers, as he indicated to Erik Gundersen of The Columbian. “Every year is a contract year,” Matthews said when asked if he’d feel added pressure to perform this year.

Charlie Adams and Eddie Scarito contributed to this post.