Minnesota Timberwolves Rumors

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).

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.