Minnesota Timberwolves

Northwest Notes: Henderson, Wolves, Claver

No player has been with a Northwest Division team longer than Nick Collison, who carved out a long-term stay with the SuperSonics/Thunder franchise even though he’s never played a starring role. He’ll make $3.75MM this season and next on the extension he signed in February. We listed the longest-tenured member of every team earlier today, and we’re sharing more from the Northwest Division here:

  • Trail Blazers trade acquisition Gerald Henderson wasn’t surprised the Hornets dealt him away, though the timing of the move caught him off guard, since it came the week after he opted in, as he tells Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. He maintains ties to the Charlotte area, but he’s enthusiastic about his new team. “It was not so much about being traded as where I was going. This is a contract year,” said Henderson, who’s set for free agency next summer. “I wanted to be at a place with opportunity, a good organization and potentially a chance to win. I got all those things in Portland.”
  • The Timberwolves allowed the $6,308,194 trade exception they picked up in the Kevin Love trade to expire unused Sunday, though that wasn’t a surprise, as I suggested earlier this month. They still have five other trade exceptions, the largest of which is worth $5MM and doesn’t expire until next July.
  • Victor Claver officially joined Valencia of Spain after the team matched the offer sheet he signed with Baskonia, the Spanish ACB league announced (Twitter link; translation via Austin Green of LosCrossovers). Valencia had held his Spanish rights from the time he spent with the team before his jump to the Trail Blazers in 2012. He finished up this past season playing in Russia after the Nuggets waived him following his inclusion in the Arron Afflalo trade.

Hawks, Pelicans To Work Out Sean Kilpatrick

Former Timberwolves shooting guard Sean Kilpatrick will be a participant in workouts that the Hawks and Pelicans are set to conduct soon, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter link). The Lakers and Spurs previously worked him out, as Wolfson notes. The 25-year-old averaged 5.5 points in 17.9 minutes per game across four appearances while on a 10-day contract with Minnesota this past season.

Geography had a significant influence in on Minnesota’s decision to sign the former University of Cincinnati standout, since he was close to New York, where the Wolves were set to play the Knicks without the minimum eight healthy players. Still, he saw plenty of playing time during the 10-day stint and seems to be attracting no shortage of attention from other NBA clubs now. He was on the Bucks summer league squad last month and spent time with the D-League affiliates of the Warriors and Sixers this past season.

The Lakers and Hawks have the $2.814MM room exception to spend, while the Pelicans have their $2.139MM biannual exception and the Spurs are limited to paying no more than the minimum. An all-out bidding war for Kilpatrick seems unlikely, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the interest from multiple teams results in a guaranteed deal of some kind, though that’s just my speculation.

Which team do you think would make the most sense for Kilpatrick? Leave a comment to tell us.

Northwest Notes: Bennett, Wolves, Jazz

The Wolves would move Anthony Bennett for the right price, but there are no active discussions, Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press tweets. The Wolves acquired Bennett in the Kevin Love trade that also brought Andrew Wiggins and Thaddeus Young to Minnesota. Chuck Myron of Hoops Rumors re-examined the deal, which occurred one year ago today, and analyzed the status of each piece of the trade, including the draft pick that was sent to Philadelphia.

Here’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Wolves have not spoken to the Blazers about any deals in over a month, Krawczynski adds in a separate tweet. The two teams reportedly had talks regarding “a major deal,” though discussions ended without any deal being struck.
  • Jesse Blancarte of Basketball Insiders believes the Dante Exum injury will give Trey Burke an opportunity to show he is ready and capable of being a starting point guard in the NBA. Blancarte admits that Burke is a downgrade from Exum defensively, but he argues the drop off won’t be as significant as many expect. The scribe believes Utah’s improvement in the second half of last season had more to do with Enes Kanter‘s exit, which allowed Rudy Gobert to take on a bigger role, than Exum’s insertion into the starting lineup.
  • Burke should get the first crack at leading the Jazz this season, but the point guard is just focusing on improving his game, Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune writes. “My mindset is just keep working, getting better,” Burke said. “Obviously with Dante going down a lot of people think I’m going to start, but I’m not really worried about that, to be honest with you. This is a time for me to really focus on how I can improve this last stretch of the summer. That’s really my biggest focus right now.”

Western Notes: Crawford, Dejean-Jones, Prince

There are reportedly multiple teams, including the Knicks, Heat, and Cavaliers, that are interested in swinging a deal with the Clippers to acquire sixth man Jamal Crawford. But Los Angeles isn’t currently motivated to give up Crawford without garnering a useful return, Dan Woike of The Orange County Register relays in a series of tweets. It wouldn’t be a wise move to deal Crawford, who is extremely valuable as a bench piece, for a backup caliber point guard or center, Woike opines. The Orange County Register scribe believes that the smarter move for the Clippers would be to hold onto Crawford and see how the team’s roster shakes out in training camp to better assess what the team’s needs are before making a decision.

Here’s what else is happening around the Western Conference:

  • The Pelicans dipped into their mid-level exception to sign undrafted shooting guard Bryce Dejean-Jones, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. The pact includes a partial guarantee of $50K for the 2015/16 campaign, while the other two seasons of the deal are non-guaranteed, Pincus adds.
  • According to league sources, the Jazz have yet to contact other teams or free agents regarding adding another point guard in the wake of Dante Exum‘s season-ending knee injury, Andy Larsen of KSL.com relays (Twitter links). Utah appears content to begin the season with Trey Burke, Bryce Cotton, and Raul Neto, and will potentially look to acquire additional help later in the season if needed, Larsen adds. There were reports that the Jazz had interest in acquiring Garrett Temple from the Wizards, but Washington reportedly isn’t anxious to to move Temple, and he wouldn’t come cheaply if they were so inclined.
  • Tayshaun Prince‘s minimum salary arrangement with the Timberwolves for the 2015/16 season is fully guaranteed, Pincus tweets. The addition of Prince gives Minnesota 16 fully guaranteed pacts, according to our roster count for the team.

Wolves, Blazers Explored ‘Major’ Trade

Sources have informed Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter links) that the Blazers and Wolves had talks regarding what Bonnell termed, “a major deal,” though the discussions ended without any deal being struck. Bonnell also noted that the discussions were salary cap room driven, though he didn’t specify which players may have been involved, nor which team initiated the talks. The Trail Blazers currently have just $48,304,966 in guaranteed salary on the books for 2015/16, while the Timberwolves are over the $70MM salary cap with a total of $73,620,533 in guaranteed salary committed for next season, so it stands to reason that Minnesota was the franchise looking to shed some payroll, though that is merely my speculation.

The Wolves currently have a roster count of 17, including 16 players possessing fully guaranteed pacts, while Portland currently has 17 players on its roster, 12 of whom have fully guaranteed contracts. One aspect that could have made facilitating a trade easier is that almost all of Minnesota’s roster is eligible to be traded immediately since the franchise wasn’t especially active on the free agent market this offseason. Players who sign in the summer can’t be traded until December 15th at the earliest, or for 30 days after signing if they’re a draft pick.

There have been reports relaying that the Wolves were entertaining the idea of trading Ricky Rubio, who is scheduled to earn $12.7MM this coming season. Portland wouldn’t appear to be a match for the point guard, seeing as Damian Lillard is already firmly entrenched as the starter and franchise centerpiece at the point. Lillard certainly has the ability, if not the size, to play shooting guard full time, but it’s highly doubtful that the team would look to acquire Rubio, unless a third team were to potentially get involved.

The Kevin Love Trade: One Year Later

The one-year anniversary of the Kevin Love trade is Sunday, but we’ll get the jump today and look back at last year’s foremost blockbuster. The official announcement of the deal, which took place on August 23rd, 2014, was a long time coming, as the Cavs and Timberwolves had been working on the swap for months and had to wait for Andrew Wiggins to become eligible for inclusion in the deal. The Sixers became involved during the process, and they scored a first-rounder and two players in exchange for Thaddeus Young.

The Cavs, who went to the Finals, and the Timberwolves, who finished with the league’s worst record, won the lottery and picked Karl-Anthony Towns No. 1 overall, have predictably taken divergent paths since the swap. The Sixers have continued in their slow rebuilding, with their involvement Love trade just one part of a lengthy process. However, the story for many of the figures involved is more complicated.

Below is a look at each of the six players in the trade and what’s happened to them in the past 12 months. We’ve also broken down the fate of the draft pick promised as part of the deal. See it all here:

  • Kevin Love (Timberwolves to Cavaliers) — The past season was one to forget for Love, who put up his worst numbers of the past five years. Some of that was to be expected, as he figured to play more of a complementary role on a team with greater talent than he’d ever played with in Minnesota, but Love and new Cavs coach David Blatt struggled to find a role that maximized the power forward’s abilities. A shoulder injury in the first round of the playoffs that knocked him out for the rest of the postseason somehow served as a fitting coda to a frustrating year. Rumors that he’d flee Cleveland for the Lakers or Celtics dogged Love all season, but he just as consistently denied them, and he affirmed his long-term commitment to the Cavs when he re-signed in July on a five-year max deal, one that also made clear Cleveland’s belief in him as a max player.
  • Andrew Wiggins (Cavaliers to Timberwolves) — The centerpiece of the package going to Minnesota is already well on his way to making this known more prominently as “the Andrew Wiggins trade.” He entered college two years ago with the expectation that he’d become the next NBA superstar, and while he underwhelmed at Kansas, he spent his first pro season regaining a sterling reputation. He didn’t fall too far with the Jayhawks, having done enough to become the No. 1 overall pick in 2014, and he ran away with voting for the Rookie of the Year award this spring.
  • Thaddeus Young (Sixers to Timberwolves) — The Timberwolves apparently insisted on receiving Young instead of the Heat’s first-round pick that had been Cleveland’s, in the hopes that the veteran forward would help the team compete for a playoff berth last season. Injuries scuttled the idea of a playoff run soon after the season began, and while Young was Minnesota’s third-leading scorer at 14.3 points per game, he reportedly told the Wolves he would opt out at season’s end, helping prompt them to trade him to the Nets at the deadline for Kevin Garnett. That swap completed a circle of sorts for Minnesota, which had drafted Love to replace Garnett a year after the deal that sent KG to Boston in 2007. Young fit in seamlessly with the Nets and re-signed with Brooklyn on a four-year, $50MM deal.
  • Anthony Bennett (Cavaliers to Timberwolves) — The 2013 No. 1 overall pick showed some improvement last year after his profoundly disappointing rookie season, but he still averaged only 5.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in 15.7 minutes per game. The Wolves reportedly brought up Bennett’s name in trade talk with other teams at the deadline, and they apparently spoke to the Celtics in June about the idea of dealing Bennett to Boston. In a series of polls in which Hoops Rumors readers have been reconstructing the 2013 draft, Bennett has gone undrafted through 13 picks so far.
  • Alexey Shved (Timberwolves to Sixers) — The shooting guard whose minutes had fallen off in 2013/14 after a strong rookie season in 2012/13 spent this past year bouncing from team to team. The Sixers traded him to the Rockets in December in a deal that essentially netted the Sixers the 58th overall pick in this year’s draft, and Houston flipped Shved to the Knicks at the deadline. New York reportedly failed to offer Shved the $2.814MM salary for the coming season that he had been seeking, so he instead signed with CSKA Moscow on a three-year, $10.2MM deal that makes him Europe’s highest-paid player.
  • Luc Mbah a Moute (Timberwolves to Sixers) — Mbah a Moute posted the highest points and minutes per game of his seven-year NBA career with the Sixers, whose stripped-down roster allowed him greater opportunity than ever. He also served as a mentor for fellow Cameroon native Joel Embiid as Embiid sat out the season with injury, but with Embiid’s career in limbo following another season-ending problem with his foot, Mbah a Moute signed with the Kings last month for a $1.55MM salary. However, Mbah a Moute’s health also came into question, and Sacramento voided the deal because of a shoulder issue. The union was to have filed a grievance earlier this month.
  • Miami’s top-10 protected 2015 first-round pick (Cavaliers to Sixers) — The Heat’s debt is still outstanding on the pick that was originally part of Cleveland’s ransom for LeBron James in the sign-and-trade deal that sent him to Miami in 2010. The Sixers nearly wound up with the draft choice this year, but the Heat emerged from the lottery with pick No. 10, the last within the protected range. That pick is again top-10 protected for 2016, but barring another injury-filled season in Miami, the Heat should make playoffs, an outcome that would see the selection finally convey to Philly. A slight possibility exists that the pick will end up going to the Warriors thanks to the Gerald Wallace/Jason Thompson trade. If the pick somehow falls within the top 10 again in 2016, the Heat will keep it but will be forced to send their 2017 first-rounder, with no protection, to the Sixers.

What’s your take on the trade now that a year has passed? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

Timberwolves Sign Tayshaun Prince

AUGUST 20TH, 10:59am: The deal is official, the team announced (Twitter link).

“We’re excited to add a veteran like Tayshaun,” Timberwolves coach/executive Flip Saunders said in the team’s statement. “Having coached Tayshaun for three seasons in Detroit, I know that his experience and defensive mindset will benefit our younger players. He also has shown that he can shoot from long distance, which will help our ability to stretch the floor.”

AUGUST 13TH, 12:54pm: The Timberwolves have reached agreement on a one-year deal with Tayshaun Prince for the minimum salary, a source told Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). The move is somewhat surprising, since Minnesota already has 15 fully guaranteed deals. He’ll join Kevin Garnett and the newly signed Andre Miller among the long-tenured veterans supplementing a youthful Wolves core. Prince is “super close” with longtime Pistons trainer Arnie Kander, who also recently joined Minnesota, notes Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter link).

Prince finished up this past season in Detroit as a coda to the 10 and a half seasons he spent there at the start of his career. His production bounced back to a degree this past season after a dropoff in 2013/14. The Cavs and Spurs reportedly reached out to the Bill Duffy client at the start of free agency last month, and the Blazers apparently had more recent interest before the Wolves snagged him. Prince spent 2014/15 on the move, as the Grizzlies traded him to the Celtics in the Jeff Green deal and Boston later flipped him to the Pistons at the deadline.

[RELATED: Flip Saunders To Stay In Wolves Job Despite Cancer]

Since it’s only for one year, the deal with Prince will cost the Wolves just $947,276 while the league picks up the tab for the rest of his $1,499,187 salary. It’s not much of a financial burden for Minnesota, which had been carrying about $72.7MM in guaranteed salary, well shy of the $84.74MM tax threshold, but it puts pressure on the team to make a trade before opening night to get down to no more than 15 fully guaranteed deals. Prince’s arrival also seemingly makes it tougher for Lorenzo Brown to stick past the preseason. His salary is partially guaranteed for only $75K.

Prince had hoped to sign with a contender, but the Wolves, who finished with the league’s worst record this past season, don’t fit that bill, notes Keith Langlois of Pistons.com (Twitter link). The small forward signed his last contract while he was still in his prime, so this pact will represent a significant decline in pay from the more than $7.7MM he made in 2014/15. Our Dana Gauruder correctly predicted in Prince’s Free Agent Stock Watch this week that he would end up with a one-year deal, even though the 35-year-old said this spring that he felt he could play for another two or three years.

Do you think Prince is the right fit for the Timberwolves? Leave a comment to let us know.

Teams With The Most Rookie Scale Contracts

The Cavs will be a popular pick for the NBA title this season, and that’ll probably be the case as long as LeBron James is at or near his peak and wearing a Cleveland uniform. However, once the LeBron era winds down, the future looks murky for the Cavs, who are the only NBA team without a player on a rookie scale contract, the sort of deal that first-round picks sign when they join the NBA.

Conversely, the Celtics and Timberwolves aren’t where they want to be yet, but they have no shortage of young talent. They’re tied atop the league with eight players apiece on rookie scale contracts. The C’s arguably have more “future assets” than anybody, since they also have five extra future first-round picks coming their way.

See how all 30 teams stack up in terms of rookie-scale contracts:

  1. Celtics, 8 (R.J. Hunter, Perry Jones III, Kelly Olynyk, Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Jared Sullinger, James Young, Tyler Zeller)
  2. Timberwolves, 8 (Anthony Bennett, Gorgui Dieng, Tyus Jones, Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad, Adreian Payne, Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins)
  3. Bucks, 7 (Giannis Antetokounmpo, Michael Carter-Williams, Tyler Ennis, John Henson, Jabari Parker, Miles Plumlee, Rashad Vaughn)
  4. Magic, 7 (Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon, Mario Hezonja, Shabazz Napier, Andrew Nicholson, Victor Oladipo, Elfrid Payton)
  5. Thunder, 6 (Steven Adams, Josh Huestis, Mitch McGary, Cameron Payne, Andre Roberson, Dion Waiters)
  6. Trail Blazers, 6 (Maurice Harkless, Meyers Leonard, Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Mason Plumlee, Noah Vonleh)*
  7. Hornets, 5 (P.J. Hairston, Frank Kaminsky, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Jeremy Lamb, Cody Zeller)
  8. Jazz, 5 (Trey Burke, Dante Exum, Rudy Gobert, Rodney Hood, Trey Lyles)
  9. Raptors, 5 (Bruno Caboclo, Lucas Nogueira, Terrence Ross, Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright)
  10. Sixers, 5 (Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Nik Stauskas, Tony Wroten)
  11. Pistons, 4 (Reggie Bullock, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Andre Drummond, Stanley Johnson)
  12. Rockets, 4 (Clint Capela, Sam Dekker, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas)
  13. Suns, 4 (Devin Booker, Archie Goodwin, Alex Len, T.J. Warren)
  14. Bulls, 3 (Doug McDermott, Bobby Portis, Tony Snell)
  15. Lakers, 3 (Larry Nance Jr., Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell)
  16. Nets, 3 (Sergey Karasev, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Chris McCullough)
  17. Nuggets, 3 (Gary Harris, Emmanuel Mudiay, Jusuf Nurkic)
  18. Warriors, 3 (Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli, Kevon Looney)
  19. Wizards, 3 (Bradley Beal, Kelly Oubre, Otto Porter)
  20. Grizzlies, 2 (Jordan Adams, Jarell Martin)
  21. Hawks, 2 (Tim Hardaway Jr., Dennis Schröder)
  22. Knicks, 2 (Jerian Grant, Kristaps Porzingis)
  23. Pacers, 2 (Myles Turner, Solomon Hill)
  24. Clippers, 1 (C.J. Wilcox)
  25. Heat, 1 (Justise Winslow)
  26. Kings, 2 (Willie Cauley-Stein, Ben McLemore)
  27. Mavericks, 1 (Justin Anderson)
  28. Pelicans, 1 (Anthony Davis)*
  29. Spurs, 1 (Kyle Anderson)
  30. Cavaliers, 0

* — The rookie scale contracts for Davis and Lillard run through the coming season, but they’ve already signed a maximum-salary extensions that will kick with the 2016/17 season.

The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.

Western Notes: Durant, Upshaw, Ezeli

The pursuit of Kevin Durant next summer is shaping up as the “biggest non-LeBron free agency the NBA has ever seen,” writes Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding, but it doesn’t come without doubts. The crack that Durant told Ding that he had in one of the bones in his right foot was an “unthinkable” recurrence of an earlier break, orthopedic surgeon Robert Klapper said to Ding. Klapper nonetheless expressed confidence that the bone will hold together after the latest surgery, and Durant is far from worried, the former MVP must proceed with caution, Ding opines. Still, Durant believes he’s the league’s best player, as he told Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com (Twitter link), and that confidence will be a boon for the Thunder, at least for this coming season, writes The Oklahoman’s Jenni Carlson. While we wait to see whether Durant or LeBron James emerges as the most sought-after free agent of the 2016 class, here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Undrafted center Robert Upshaw reportedly reached an agreement with the Lakers a month ago, but Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times hears that he’s merely a possibility for the team, which has no immediate plans to sign him, Pincus adds (Twitter link). GM Mitch Kupchak said late last month that he and Upshaw’s agent, Bill Duffy, were talking but didn’t confirm that the sides had a deal and downplayed any on-court impact that Upshaw might make for the team this season.
  • Eric Saar of Basketball Insiders compares rookie scale extension candidate Festus Ezeli to Alexis Ajinca, who re-signed with the Pelicans last month for about $19.5MM over four years. Saar, whose piece looks at extension candidates around the NBA, figures Ezeli will wind up with annual salaries of around $5MM. Warriors GM Bob Myers indicated recently that he’d consider an extension for the backup center, but Saar thinks Golden State should wait for him to hit restricted free agency next summer.
  • Injuries had much to do with the struggles of the league-worst Timberwolves last season, argues fellow Basketball Insiders scribe Ben Dowsett, who names Minnesota one of three under-the-radar teams in the Western Conference. The Wolves have added No. 1 overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns and went after veterans this summer, re-signing Kevin Garnett and adding Andre Miller and Tayshaun Prince.

Northwest Notes: Tskitishvili, Wolves, Exum

Ater being out of the league for nearly a decade, former Nuggets player Nikoloz Tskitishvili is interested in making a comeback, according to Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. At 32, Tskitishvili insists he’s a better player now than when he quickly passed through the league after being the No. 5 overall pick in the 2002 draft. Tskitishvili spent three seasons in Denver, averaging 3.2 points and 1.9 rebounds in 143 games while shooting about 30%. He wants to atone for his past failings and attended the summer league in Las Vegas hoping to find someone to give him a chance. “I’m 100 times better than I was,” he said. “It’s just very difficult for teams to understand that, because they are looking at the number, the age. If you ask me, this is the best shape I’ve ever been in and the best I’ve been playing in my career.”

There’s more news out of the Northwest Division:

  • The Wolves hold a trade exception worth more than $6.3MM that will expire next Sunday, tweets former Nets executive Bobby Marks. Minnesota is in a tough position because the team is hard capped and has 16 guaranteed contracts, Marks notes. The trade exception was created in last summer’s deal that sent Kevin Love to Cleveland.
  • Wolves coach/executive Flip Saunders likes the veteran leadership that newly acquired Andre Miller and Tayshaun Prince will bring, along with Kevin Garnett (Twitter link). He also notes that Garnett and Prince were once regulars on the All-Defensive team, calling it a “Defensive Culture for Pups to see.”
  • Utah’s season won’t be destroyed by the loss of Dante Exum, writes Brad Rock of The Deseret News. He points out that the Jazz have a capable backup in Trey Burke, who has started 111 games during his career, along with nearly $7MM in cap room to pursue other options. Utah already has Bryce Cotton on its roster and signed Raul Neto in July. The team also has been rumored to have interest in Washington’s Garrett Temple.

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