Minnesota Timberwolves Rumors

Extension Rumors: Thompson, Cavs, Butler

October 31 at 10:30pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Tonight’s 11:00pm Central deadline for rookie scale extensions is fast closing in. Here’s the latest on talks around the league, with any additional updates that come in throughout the evening added to the top:

  • Final-hour talks are taking place between the Cavs and representatives for Tristan Thompson, reports Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal (Twitter link). The team has offered more than $40MM, according to Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio (on Twitter). A deal was a 50-50 proposition as of this afternoon, as Amico heard (Twitter link).
  • Butler struck a somewhat different tone before the Bulls‘ game against the Cavs tonight than his agent did when he indicated that talks were through (below), as Sam Smith of Bulls.com relays. “We still want a deal,” Butler said. “I still want to be here. I still want to have nothing to worry about. So we have until 11:59 [Eastern time] to figure it out. I’m not a personal guy. I don’t take everything to heart. I understand it’s a business. I just have to be a great basketball player. I think this team is really good, championship caliber. I am a part of this team; I am going to produce. I’m going to guard. I will take care of myself. I think there’s not too much I can do right now. I’m done talking about it.”
  • Still, Bulls GM Gar Forman said that both sides had agreed to end discussions for now and pick back up again in restricted free agency next summer, Smith notes.
  • Butler also said that he believes he’ll remain with the Bulls whether it entails signing an extension or a new deal next summer, tweets K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.

5:40pm updates:

  • Butler has rejected the Bulls‘ “final offer” and plans to enter restricted free agency next summer, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports. Butler’s agent, Happy Walters, said, “All the [rookie extension] deals done so far have shown that teams are building around their stars of the future, and they’re compensating those players as such. I was under the impression Jimmy was also viewed as one of those future building blocks with the Bulls. We tried like heck to get something done, but ultimately, the Bulls wanted a ‘hometown’ discount. While understandable, I doubt their GM or coaches give Mr. Reinsdorf a discount when negotiating their own deals.”
  • Butler had told his teammates that he was willing to play out the season unless the team upped their “final” offer, K.C. Johnson tweets.
  • The Wolves and Rubio are making progress on a four-year extension, Wojnarowski reports (Twitter link). According to Wojnarowski’s sources, there’s optimism, but no deal in place yet.

3:58pm updates:

  • The Wolves are now willing to go higher than $52MM in four-year offers to Ricky Rubio and the team is on board with a deal as long as Rubio is, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter link). Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune believes that a deal would have to be for at least $55MM over four seasons (Twitter link).
  • The Bucks and Brandon Knight weren’t too far apart in extension talks before ending them today, tweets Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com.
  • Conversely, the gap appears wide between the Bulls and Jimmy Butler, and the chances of a compromise don’t appear to be high, as Goodman also hears (Twitter link). Chicago has been willing to consider a player option in his deal, something the franchise doesn’t ordinarily do, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter), but talks aren’t progressing, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com hears (Twitter link).

Wolves Sign Ricky Rubio To Extension

October 31 at 9:28pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Timberwolves have officially signed Ricky Rubio to a contract extension, the team announced (on Twitter). Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports first reported the four-year, $55MM deal, which includes $1MM in incentives, as Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune adds (Twitter link). There are no team or player options in the arrangement, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press (Twitter link).

“We are excited to sign Ricky to a contract extension and keep him as a foundation for years to come,” Timberwolves president of basketball operations/coach Flip Saunders said in the team’s statement. “He is annually among the league leaders in assists and steals, and his intangibles make him a very valuable player to our team. Ricky is only in his fourth season and because of his work ethic and determination, we are confident that he will continue to grow as a player and as a team leader. We look forward to many great years ahead of Ricky in a Timberwolves uniform.”

Agent Dan Fegan had reportedly been seeking the maximum salary for his client, which likely would have been at least $85MM over five years, so the Wolves achieved some level of success in negotiating Rubio’s camp down from that amount. The Wolves had initially talked about four years and $44MM, and upped the offer to $48MM, then to $52MM and beyond for the 24-year-old.

Rubio’s extension matches the average annual salary that fellow point guard Eric Bledsoe netted in his new five-year contract with the Suns, at least with Rubio’s $1MM in incentives factored in, notes Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The dollar figure represents the sort of high-leverage negotiations that had been taking place for a franchise that lost Kevin Love via trade this summer, as Charlie Adams of Hoops Rumors examined when he looked at Rubio’s extension candidacy. The Wolves ultimately saw the prospect of increased revenues from the league’s recent $24 billion TV deal as motivation to come up in their offers, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press, who adds that the team wanted to show faith in the former No. 5 overall pick.

The deal gives Minnesota approximately $50.2MM in guaranteed salary commitments for the 2015/16 season, though that figure doesn’t account for Thaddeus Young‘s $9,971,739, Chase Budinger‘s $5MM, or Corey Brewer‘s $4,905,000 player options.

In his three years in the league, Rubio has averaged 10.2 PPG, 4.1 RPG, and 8.1 APG. His slash line is .369/.323/.799.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Extension Rumors: Butler, Rubio, Thompson

October 31 at 11:54am CDT By Chuck Myron

The 11:00pm Central deadline for rookie-scale extensions is only about half a day away, and there’s sure to be action in the hours ahead as decisions loom for the remaining eligible players. Here’s the latest as of this morning:

  • The Bulls and Butler were apart by $2.5MM in average annual value as they talked Thursday, Johnson reports. Butler’s camp doesn’t see a deal happening before the deadline, according to USA Today’s Sam Amick (on Twitter), which isn’t surprising considering the gap.
  • The Wolves are willing to sign Rubio to a four-year extension worth $52MM, and the team would perhaps be on board with going up to $54MM, according to Wolfson (Twitter link). Agent Dan Fegan has reportedly been seeking the maximum salary for his client, which would likely entail at least $66MM over four years, but Rubio would take $58MM, Wolfson says.
  • There’s “plenty of pessimism” surrounding the talks between Tristan Thompson and the Cavs as a gap remains in their proposals, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com (via Twitter).

Earlier updates:

  • Ricky Rubio is more likely than not to sign an extension with the Wolves as advanced negotiations have taken place between the sides over the past few weeks, sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com. That echoes an earlier report from Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities, who heard from people outside the organization who believed Rubio and the team would ultimately settle on a four-year, $52MM deal.
  • Agent Brian Elfus has been in San Antonio negotiating with the Spurs this week, as Stein writes in the same piece, but Kawhi Leonard is nonetheless unlikely to sign an extension, Stein says, seconding a report from ESPN colleague Chris Broussard. Stein hears the Spurs prefer to take Leonard to restricted free agency next summer to maintain maximum financial flexibility. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports wrote earlier this week that the Spurs were reluctant to give Leonard the maximum salary he’s seeking.
  • Talks are continuing between the Warriors and Klay Thompson and the Cavs and Tristan Thompson, Stein reports.
  • Brandon Knight and Norris Cole appear unlikely to receive extensions, according to Stein, though talks are still going on between the Bucks and Knight’s agent, Arn Tellem, a source tells Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Stein seconds earlier reports indicating that Jimmy Butler, Reggie Jackson and Iman Shumpert also seem unlikely to sign extensions.
  • The Bulls are going to have to increase their offer to Butler to entice him to sign, tweets K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. It’s unclear what the Bulls have on the table, but as of a week ago the sides were “millions apart,” as Johnson wrote then.

And-Ones: Nets, Kidd, Gray, Gomes

October 28 at 10:55pm CDT By Zach Links

A year after the blockbuster trade that sent Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry, and Paul Pierce to the Nets, the deal doesn’t look so good for Brooklyn, writes Tim Bontemps of the New York Post.  Bontemps points out many of the key players in that deal are no longer on the team.  Pierce left the team this offseason to sign with Wizards, while Terry was traded during the middle of last season for Marcus Thornton. More from around basketball..

  • If he’ll sign one, Wolves guard Ricky Rubio will top the four-year, $48MM extension that Kemba Walker agreed to earlier today, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets.
  • Jason Kidd admits it’s a completely different situation coaching the young, inexperienced Bucks this season compared to the veteran driven Nets, writes Andrew Wagner of the Star Tribune. “Here, we can show them but we also have to teach them and show them again exactly the different options because it’s all new to them,” Kidd said. “It takes time, but it’s been fun to see their growth.”
  • The decision to waive Aaron Gray was both clear-cut and wrenching for the Pistons, writes Keith Langlois of NBA.com.  Gray’s medical situation coupled with the presence of Joel Anthony made him an obvious choice to go, but he was in the best shape of his career this offseason and Stan Van Gundy was excited to see what he could do.
  • Ryan Gomes has decided to leave Spanish club Baskonia, also known as Laboral Kuxta, over a lack of playing time, according to David Pick of Basketball Insiders. Gomes, 32, made the Thunder’s opening night roster last season. Former Pacers guard Orlando Johnson could be the next to bolt and DJ White‘s one-month contract with the club will expire next week.

Chris Crouse contributed to this post.

Western Notes: Thompson, Rubio, Mekel, Taylor

October 28 at 1:05pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Cory Joseph is the quintessential player from outside the U.S., at least according to the NBA’s annual survey of international players on opening-night rosters. He is a member of the Spurs, who lead the league with nine non-U.S. players, and he’s from Canada, the non-U.S. nation that has produced the most NBA players currently in the league. It’s the third straight year that San Antonio has led the NBA in this regard, and it seems to be working, since the Spurs went to the Finals the first two times. Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Kings big man Jason Thompson is drawing trade interest from around the league thanks to the league’s rising salary cap, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe writes amid his season preview. More available spending money around the league makes Thompson’s contract, which will pay him nearly $15.119MM in guaranteed salary through 2016/17, less burdensome for teams.
  • Sources from outside the Timberwolves believe Ricky Rubio and the team will ultimately settle on an extension worth four years and $52MM by Friday’s deadline, as they tell Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter link). The team has apparently offered four years and $48MM, while agent Dan Fegan has reportedly asked for the max.
  • Gal Mekel says that the Mavs haven’t told him whether or not they’re going to waive him, though he’s cognizant of the reports have the Mavericks set to release him so they can sign J.J. Barea instead, observes Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News“It’s weird,” Mekel said. “I hear everything. But I want to concentrate on this game. I had a great preseason and showed everybody that I can help this team. I got very good feedback from the coaching staff. I know it’s weird right now and there is a chance I will find myself in another place in two days. But as long as I am here, I’m going to help the team.”
  • Wolves owner and chairman of the Board of Governors Glen Taylor has publicly talked about selling the team in the past, and he said Monday that he eventually plans to do so, notes Nate Gotlieb of the Mankato Free Press.

Wolves Waive J.J. Barea, Mavs Plan To Sign Him

October 27 at 1:59pm CDT By Zach Links

MONDAY, 1:59pm: The Wolves have waived Barea, the team announced (Twitter link). It’s unclear if he agreed to give up any salary in a buyout arrangement or if it was a straight release.

SUNDAY, 3:55pm: The Wolves are finalizing a buyout with J.J. Barea, sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com.  The buyout will be completed before Monday’s 4pm CT roster cutdown deadline, putting Minnesota at the 15-man maximum.

With a logjam of guards in Minnesota, there has been speculation this offseason that the Wolves would buy Barea out of the final year of his contract or trade him.  Coach/president Flip Saunders insisted in late September that there was a role for Barea in Minnesota, noting that his camp performance last summer was the best of anyone on the team.  Still, with a glut of backcourt options, including free agent pickup Mo Williams, it was clear that Barea could get more burn elsewhere.

The Mavericks are planning on signing Barea once he clears waivers, according to Stein, and the guard wants to return to Dallas.  The Mavs’ roster is currently full with the regular season maximum 15 players, so bringing Barea aboard would require another roster move.  The guard should clear as he carries a $4.5MM cap number for 2014/15.  Stein suggests that Dallas could clear a spot by trading or releasing guard Gal Mekel or big man Greg Smith.

If the Barea-Dallas reunion falls through, there should be plenty of other clubs with interest.  The Lakers immediately come to mind as a club that could go for Barea in the wake of Steve Nash‘s season-ending injury.

Earlier today, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter link) heard that the feeling around the league was that Barea would wind up with the Mavs.  Barea could be the second member of the Mavs’ 2011 championship team to return to Dallas this offseason, following big man Tyson Chandler.

Central Rumors: Thompson, Love, Pistons

October 25 at 9:04pm CDT By Cray Allred

Fearing a potential fine from the league, Bulls coach Tim Thibodeau decided to withhold his opinion when asked by Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com about proposed changes to the NBA’s draft lottery system. “The thing that I don’t like about it is it just seems like…I think it’s bad when…I guess it’s fine,” Thibodeau said, before adding, “I’ll try to save my money.” NBA owners voted down a proposal last week that would have shaken up the lottery, giving the league’s worst teams a smaller chance at the highest picks. Here’s more from around the Central Division:

  • There has been “zero discussion” on a contract extension for the CavaliersTristan Thompson, a source tells Chris Haynes of Northeast Ohio Media Group. Thompson, who like teammate LeBron James is represented by Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, would become a restricted free agent next summer if no deal is reached by Friday. Haynes says Thompson is invaluable to the team’s ongoing championship makeup, an opinion shared by teammate Kyrie Irving. “He’s very important to us,” Irving said. “That motor he has, it’s something that never stops. He’s always on the boards. We’re going to need that. He’s a big part of our team.”
  • It was a desire to win that brought Kevin Love to Cleveland, the star forward writes in a piece for The Players’ Tribune (H/T Dan Labbe of the Plain Dealer). In the first-person essay, Love explains why he agreed to the summer trade that brought him to the Cavaliers from the Timberwolves. “I’ve never played in a playoff game,” Love writes. “I came to Cleveland because I want to win. I’ll grab a broom and sweep the floors if it gets me an NBA title.” Love also thanked Timberwolves fans and referenced the “crazy summer” of overall No. 1 draft choice Andrew Wiggins, who went to Minnesota in the blockbuster trade.
  • Pistons coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy told David Mayo of MLive.com that he will make his final roster decisions this weekend, well before Monday’s deadline. Mayo cites Aaron Gray, Tony Mitchell, and Luigi Datome as possibile cuts, all of whom are on guaranteed contracts. Unless Detroit can send out a player in a trade, it will have to take the hit on one of its 16 guaranteed deals to get under the roster limit before the season starts.

Arthur Hill contributed to this post.

Wolves Cut Brady Heslip

October 25 at 2:41pm CDT By Arthur Hill

Guard Brady Heslip has been officially waived by the Timberwolves, the team has announced. The move trims Minnesota’s roster to 16 players, one over the league maximum. It’s unclear if the team intends to send Heslip to the D-league, as teams can retain the rights for up to four players.

Heslip’s minimum-salary contract was non-guaranteed, so the Wolves won’t be on the hook for any salary as a result of this move. Heslip wasn’t a lock to make the regular season roster, so his departure doesn’t come as a shocker.

The 6’2″ Canadian was a sharpshooter at Baylor, ranking first in school history in three-point percentage and second in made three-pointers. The 24-year-old guard played in five games for the Minnesota’s summer league team in Las Vegas, averaging 6.2 points per game.

Wolves Notes: Cunningham, Taylor, Chairman

October 23 at 2:18pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The domestic assault charges against Dante Cunningham were dropped more than two months ago, but he tells Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press that his client hasn’t received so much as a minimum-salary offer from an NBA team. Agent Joel Bell estimates that Cunningham would have otherwise received a deal with annual salaries of more than $4MM, and said he heard as recently as Monday from a team that said the public relations hit it would take from signing him would be too much to bear, as Krawczynski writes. A report from two months ago indicated Cunningham and the Timberwolves were in talks, but he remains unsigned.

Here’s more from Minnesota:

  • Execs from a pair of teams tell Krawczynski for the same piece that the stigma that remains from those charges wouldn’t by itself prevent their clubs from signing him, but they acknowledged it would be a factor.
  • At this point it’s about justice and it’s about clearing my name,” the 27-year-old forward told Krawczynski. “Clearly this adds a terrible stigma to my name. … Now when anyone looks up Dante Cunningham, oh, wasn’t he the one that was in trouble? There’s nothing out there saying there was a false charge.”
  • The NBA Board of Governors elected Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor as the chairman of the board, Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press reports (Twitter link). Taylor previously served in this position from 2008 to 2012, and also held the position on an interim basis since April of this year.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

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).