Minnesota Timberwolves Rumors

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.

Warriors, Klay Thompson At Odds On Extension

October 9 at 11:51am CDT By Chuck Myron

11:51am: Thompson is unwilling to accept a discounted extension, as Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News group hears (Twitter link). It’s not entirely clear whether that means he’s unwilling to drop beneath a $15MM average annual value or if he won’t take any deal for less than the max.

11:12am: The Warriors and Klay Thompson haven’t made progress toward an extension in the past few weeks, and the sides are $2-3MM apart in the average annual value of their proposals, sources tell Monte Poole of CSNBayArea.com. Still, it doesn’t appear as though agent Bill Duffy has lost optimism that the sides will strike agreement, Poole adds.

Thompson wants at least $15MM a year, while Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob isn’t sold on the idea of paying Thompson as much as the approximately $15MM that David Lee will make this season, according to Poole, who indicates that the team is hovering around $13MM in its offers. A July report indicated that Thompson was seeking the max. It won’t be clear until next July just how much Thompson could make in a max extension, since the cap figures won’t be set until then, but such a deal would yield about $85MM over five years based on this year’s max, or $66MM over four seasons. Next year’s maximum salaries will likely rise above those figures, given the projected increase to the salary cap.

The Timberwolves were prepared to give Thompson a max extension if they had acquired him in a trade for Kevin Love, sources tell Poole, but the Warriors steadfastly held Thompson out of those talks. The Warriors have appeared high on Thompson, and GM Bob Myers last month expressed a desire to strike a deal to keep him around, echoing the vow that Lacob made in the spring. Thompson wants to come to an agreement and his teammates do, too, Poole writes.

Lacob has hinted at a willingness to exceed the luxury tax in the past, but he doesn’t want to do so at this point, Poole hears. The Warriors already have about $56MM in commitments for 2015/16, so an extension would bring the team relatively close to the tax threshold for that season, though it’s unknown just where the tax line will be. Still, the league’s $24 billion TV deal figures to soon bring about a sharp rise in the salary cap, and the tax line along with it, so even a max extension for Thompson probably wouldn’t put the Warriors in too much danger of repeatedly becoming a taxpayer in the years ahead.

The Warriors have apparently budgeted for a Thompson extension, though it’s unclear just how much they’ve set aside. It’s uncommon for the team to strike an extension deal ahead of the deadline to do so, notes Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group (Twitter link). So the lack of progress at this point doesn’t necessarily mean that talks won’t gain momentum closer to October 31st, the final day that the sides can put pen to paper on an extension.

Latest On Ricky Rubio

October 6 at 4:44pm CDT By Chuck Myron

The Wolves appear to have upped their offer to Ricky Rubio, as Sean Deveney of The Sporting News hears their best proposal involved four years at around $48MM. The sides are still far apart, and Minnesota has no intention to pay the max, Deveney writes. Rubio’s agent, Dan Fegan, has reportedly asked for a five-year max deal, which would likely come in at around $85MM, while the team had apparently been seeking a four-year arrangement for around $43MM. Rubio, who turns 24 this month, and Wolves owner Glen Taylor reportedly spoke several times the week before camp and expressed mutual interest in reaching a deal on an extension, but it seems there’s still much ground to cover.

One of the primary points of debate has involved the length of the deal, as the Timberwolves seem to be insistent on a four-year arrangement. That would allow the club to save the Designated Player title for Andrew Wiggins, while five years for Rubio would mean the club would be unable to sign Wiggins to a five-year extension when he becomes eligible in 2017 if Rubio is still on the team.

The Wolves have until October 31st to strike a deal and keep Rubio out of restricted free agency next summer, and the decision is critical for the team, as Charlie Adams of Hoops Rumors examined when he looked at the former fifth overall pick as an extension candidate. Still, the Wolves would have the power to match offers next summer if they decline to do an extension. Depending on whether others ink extensions, Rajon RondoKemba Walker, Reggie Jackson and Brandon Knight loom as ample competition on the market for free agent point guards in 2015.

Western Notes: Mavs, Grizzlies, Aldridge, Barea

October 6 at 3:04pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Charlie Villanueva has impressed Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, who insists Villanueva’s lack of guaranteed money won’t prevent the team from keeping him for opening night, as Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com chronicles.

“It’s going to come down to who plays the best, who fills needs,” Carlisle said. “And we’ll go from there. Mark [Cuban]’s the kind of owner, he’s not going to let a few dollars get in the way of keeping the right team together.” 

Still, it’d cost the Mavs, who have 15 guaranteed contracts plus partial guarantees with Eric Griffin and Ivan Johnson, at least $991,482 in dead money to waive the players necessary for them to keep Villanueva, unless they can work out some sort of trade. While we wait to see just how much Cuban is willing to sacrifice, here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace told Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal that he wasn’t explicitly told not to perform his duties while former CEO Jason Levien was in charge of the team, as Tillery writes in a subscription-only piece. Wallace clarified that he made his own choice to remove himself from player personnel, Tillery notes. Wallace also made a run at openings with the Kings last year and Cavs earlier this year, according to Tillery.
  • The new TV deal won’t affect LaMarcus Aldridge‘s plan to sign a long-term deal with the Blazers this summer, a source tells The Oregonian’s Joe Freeman, pointing out that the maximum salary goes up as the salary cap does. Still, it’s worth noting that cap figures only affect the amount of a max contract for the first season of the deal, and since it appears unlikely the cap will rise dramatically until the summer of 2016, there’s still plenty of incentive for Aldridge to sign a short-term deal instead.
  • Wolves coach/executive Flip Saunders didn’t seem merely to be trying to up J.J. Barea‘s trade value when he said the guard was one of the team’s best performers in camp again this year, writes Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune.
  • The NBA’s national TV deal isn’t the only one due for a sharp increase, as some predictions have the Clippers local TV rights fees increasing to $80MM annually from the $20MM the team receives each year under the current arrangement, tweets Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. The existing deal is up after the 2015/16 season, Kennedy notes (on Twitter).

Western Notes: Barea, Warriors, Wallace

October 4 at 9:15pm CDT By Cray Allred

Timberwolves coach and president of basketball ops Flip Saunders continues to praise point guard J.J. Barea‘s play in training camp, reports Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune. Barea has been on the block for a trade or release, but sees himself as a team fixture. Whether Saunders is leaning toward keeping Barea around, or merely trying to inflate his trade value, remains to be seen. Here’s a look at the rest of tonight’s Western notes:

  • Andrew Bogut‘s primary backup, Festus Ezeli is hurt, but Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters including Diamond Leung of Bay Area News Group that he is content with bigs Marreese Speights and Ognjen Kuzmic when asked if Golden State is in need of another center (Twitter link). Kerr’s outlook will need to change for camp invite Mitchell Watt to secure one of the two open regular season roster spots in Golden State.
  • Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace came out on top of some front-office turmoil in Memphis this summer, and he tells Ronald Tillery of Commercial Appeal [subscription-only] that his commitment to the game has routinely paid off. “My staying power is pretty simplistic. This is as good a job as I can get,” said Wallace. “I do not have a college degree, there’s a limitation on what I can do. I’m not going to Wall Street. I’m not walking across the street for executive training. I’m realistic. For someone who loves basketball, it’s light years better than anything else I can do. And change is a norm in the NBA, especially in the front office and coaching ranks.”
  • Wallace also revealed that he has less autonomy than he did in his previous tenure as GM in Memphis. “The reality of NBA front offices in 2014 is they are highly collaborative. You have very few czars in the league,” Wallace said. “Having said all of that, the misconception is that you arrive at a consensus. Most times, somebody in the organization drives a decision. The better organizations probably have more consistent decision making. I’m in contact and they know my opinion on things. The good thing right now and when I was brought back is we’re rolling as a team and how the team is perceived. It’s not a reclamation project.”