Minnesota Timberwolves

No Meaningful Extension Talks Yet For Dieng, Muhammad

  • While there were no updates from the Timberwolves on Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities tweets that the team hasn’t had “meaningful talks” with either player yet. Wolfson expects both players to reach restricted free agency next summer.

Wolves Finalize Coaching Staff

  • The Timberwolves finalized their coaching staff today, the team announced on its website. Minnesota named Andy Greer and Rick Brunson as assistant coaches, Peter Patton as shooting coach and Daisuke Yoshimoto as special assistant to the president of basketball operations. In addition, Vince Legarza was promoted to player development coach.

Nikola Pekovic Won’t Play For Wolves This Season

SEPTEMBER 25th: Pekovic is out for the season, the Timberwolves confirmed today (Twitter link). The official statement adds, “A determination about future seasons will be made at a later date.” Minnesota cannot apply for a Disabled Player Exception because it is under the salary cap, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders.

SEPTEMBER 23rd: Appearing on WCCO Radio this afternoon, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor indicated that Nikola Pekovic won’t play for the team this year, and may be bought out (Twitter link). The veteran center continues to battle ankle and Achilles issues, and wasn’t expected to be cleared to participate in training camp.

Pekovic, 30, had a couple very productive seasons for the Timberwolves in 2012/13 and 2013/14, averaging 16.9 PPG and 8.7 RPG in 116 games during that stretch. However, he has long been plagued by injuries, having never appeared in more than 65 games in a season. Last year, Pekovic played just 12 times before being shut down.

The Wolves are on the hook for $12.1MM this season for Pekovic, and $11.6MM in 2017/18. If Pekovic is ruled medically ineligible to play by a doctor jointly approved by the NBA and NBPA, the team could get salary cap relief for his contract as of January 31. Based on Taylor’s comments though, a buyout is also a possibility. Buying out Pekovic wouldn’t create as much cap flexibility for Minnesota, but it would free up a roster spot sooner, and the team would be able to stretch out his 2017/18 cap hit, limiting the impact.

With buyouts apparently possible for both Pekovic and Kevin Garnett, the Wolves could create two openings on their projected 15-man roster. That would be a silver lining for players on non-guaranteed deals hoping to crack the regular-season squad, including Rasual Butler, John Lucas III, and Toure’ Murry.

Northwest Notes: Exum, Oladipo, Wolters, Garnett

Jazz point guard Dante Exum proclaims himself fully healed from the ACL injury that wiped out last season, writes Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. Exum suffered the injury in August of 2015 while playing for the Australian national team and says the mental anguish was worse than the physical pain. “There were plenty of times where I wondered, why me,” Exum told The Tribune. “I wondered if I would be the guy I was before the injury. I was supposed to go home to Australia the next day, and I hadn’t been home in a year. I wondered, what’s going to happen with the Jazz? That was the pain I was going through.” With Utah’s training camp opening this week, Exum says his knee feels stronger than ever and his speed, leaping ability and explosive first step have all returned. Exum, who started 41 games during his rookie season, will ease back into the NBA in a reserve role after the Jazz made an offseason deal for George Hill.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • For several years, the Thunder have tried to surround their stars with “3-and-D” players, but Victor Oladipo tells Erik Horne of The Oklahoman that he wants to be more than that. Oladipo, who came to Oklahoma City in a draft-day trade involving Serge Ibaka, is expected to start alongside MVP candidate Russell Westbrook in the OKC backcourt, but he doesn’t see himself as just a complementary player. “I don’t just want to be a three-point shooter. I don’t just want to be a defensive stopper,” Oladipo said. “I want to be one of the best players in this league, and in order to do that, you have to affect the game on both ends and do multiple things.”
  • Coming off an impressive season in Turkey, Nate Wolters is hoping to work his way back into the NBA with the Nuggets, relays Jake Rauchbach of Basketball Insiders. The 38th pick in the 2013 draft, Wolters spent two seasons with the Bucks and Pelicans before heading overseas last year. He is projected as the fourth point guard on Denver’s roster, but is hoping to make an impression at training camp. “When you’re trying to make a team, there is kind of a fine line between trying to do too much and proving yourself,” Wolters said. “But still, at the same time, you want to be aggressive so they notice you a little bit. [I’ll] just try to run the team and then kind of pick my spots when I feel like I can be aggressive and try to make plays.”
  • Timberwolves coach/executive Tom Thibodeau has issued a statement honoring Kevin Garnett upon his retirement, relays The Star-Tribune. “Kevin will always be remembered for the way in which he played the game,” Thibodeau said. “His fierce competitiveness, his unequaled passion for the game and the many ways in which he cared about this team was truly special. KG is without question the all-time best player to wear a Minnesota Timberwolves jersey, and he is also one of the best ever to play this game.’’

Thibodeau Discusses Fresh Start In Minnesota

After a year away from the game, Tom Thibodeau is back as coach and president of basketball operations with the Timberwolves, who have one of the most intriguing collections of young talent in the NBA. Minnesota added point guard Kris Dunn through the draft this summer and improved its bench by signing free agents Jordan Hill, Cole Aldrich and Brandon Rush.

Kent Youngblood of The Star-Tribune talked with Thibodeau about his return to the game, his reputation as a defensive coach, his expectations for the young Wolves and Ricky Rubio‘s role now that Dunn is in town. Here are some highlights of the interview:

On Rubio’s role in Thibodeau’s offense:

“I think he’ll fit in very well. He’s a good player. He practices hard. He can really pass the ball. Passing and defense are two things that help build your team, brings the best out of people. I think Ricky has the ability to make other people better.”

On Rubio and Dunn as a possible starting backcourt:

“We’re going to get a lot of those questions answered in the preseason as we go forward. You want to go step by step. You don’t want to skip over things. I like guys who can play multiple positions, I like different combinations. There are times when you play two point guards together. I did that a lot in Chicago, just the speed of the game changes.”

On possible improvement from Nemanja Bjelica:

“I’m excited about him. He’s had a great summer. He’s in really good shape. He has a very unique skill set: He can shoot the three, he can put it on the floor. The one thing that is probably overlooked is his playmaking ability. You can run pick-and-roll with him. He’s got great vision, he can pass over people.”

On the additions of Aldrich and Hill:

“The way Cole played the second half of last year, I think he’s figured out who he is. The last two years have been very good for him. He fits in well, plays to his strengths, covers up his weaknesses, makes the team function well. And Jordan has been a very good player in this league. That gives us quality depth up front.”

On playoff expectations:

“I don’t want to put a lid on what we can do, but I want us doing the right things. Concentrate on that improvement and how fast we get there, I don’t know. We’re young and we’re going to improve. I think we’ll be a different team at the end of the year than what we were at the beginning of the year.”

Kevin Garnett Announces Retirement

SATURDAY, 4:14pm: The Wolves have waived Garnett, tweets Shams Charania of The Vertical.

4:50pm: Garnett will indeed be retiring from the game, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link). The veteran posted a video to his personal Instagram account announcing his intentions.

3:46pm: The Wolves are going to waive Garnett in a move similar to what the Spurs did with Tim Duncan this summer, Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press reports (via Twitter). This will allow Garnett to collect his full salary he was due for 2016/17.

FRIDAY, 2:53pm: Kevin Garnett and the Timberwolves have reached an agreement on a buyout, according to Kent Youngblood of The Star Tribune, who reports that the future Hall-of-Famer won’t play out the second and final year of his contract with the team. A league source tells Youngblood that Garnett is expected to officially make a retirement announcement soon.

[RELATED: Nikola Pekovic won’t play for Wolves this season]

A Wednesday report first suggested that the Wolves and Garnett were nearing an agreement on a buyout that would remove him from the roster. The 40-year-old had been under contract through the 2016/17 season and was owed an $8MM salary this year, but there has been uncertainty for the last several months about whether or not he’d want to continue his career.

Having spent 12 seasons in Minnesota earlier in his long career, Garnett returned to the Wolves at the 2015 trade deadline, agreeing to waive his no-trade clause in order to reunite with Flip Saunders, who was the club’s head coach at the time. KG signed a two-year deal with Minnesota that offseason, but lost his strongest ally within the organization before the start of the 2015/16 campaign, when Saunders passed away.

If this is indeed the end of Garnett’s Hall-of-Fame career, his final averages will be 17.8 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.3 steals through 1462 regular season contests. His shooting line will stand at .497/.275/.789.

Timberwolves, Rasual Butler Agree To Deal

The Timberwolves have agreed to add veteran forward Rasual Butler to their training camp roster, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical (via Twitter). It’ll be a non-guaranteed deal for Butler, so it sounds like he’ll have a chance to earn a regular-season roster spot, but is no lock to do so.

Timberwolves head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau revealed on Wednesday that the team brought in Butler “for a couple days,” and intended to make a decision soon on whether to add him to its camp roster. As Thibodeau promised, the Wolves indeed didn’t take long to extend a camp invite to Butler.

Butler, 37, appeared in 46 games last season for the Spurs, and wasn’t a big part of the team’s rotation, averaging just 2.7 PPG and 1.2 RPG in 9.4 minutes per contest. For his career, Butler has played in more than 850 total contests (regular season and postseason), averaging 7.5 PPG and 2.4 RPG with a .362 3PT% during regular-season play.

While Butler may not have a roster spot secured with the Wolves at this point, he’s certainly familiar with this situation. As Charania observes, the former second-round pick has signed camp deals in late September in each of the last three years, with the Pacers, Wizards, and Spurs, respectively — in each case, Butler ended up on his club’s regular-season roster.

The Wolves currently have 15 players on guaranteed contracts, with John Lucas III and Toure’ Murry also in the mix on non-guaranteed deals. However, the team appears to be nearing a buyout agreement with Kevin Garnett, which would open up a 15-man roster spot.

Wolves Notes: Garnett, Pekovic, Extensions, Butler

With training camp set to get underway on Tuesday, the Timberwolves still don’t have a definitive answer on whether or not Kevin Garnett will be back for one more season. As Kent Youngblood of The Star Tribune details, Wolves president of basketball operations and head coach Tom Thibodeau said owner Glen Taylor will be involved in that decision.

“Glen and Kevin and his representatives are in discussions,” Thibodeau said. “We’ll keep that private for now, and we’ll see how it unfolds. But, obviously, what Kevin has meant to our league, the organization, he’s earned the right to have those discussions with Glen.”

While the Wolves wait to see whether Garnett will play out his contract or call it a career, let’s round up a few more items out of Minnesota, via Youngblood…

  • Veteran center Nikola Pekovic, who continues to recover from an Achilles issue, is not expected to be ready for training camp, says Thibodeau. “We wanted to get him here, try to give him an opportunity get in shape and get treatment,” Thibodeau said. “We were hopeful he would respond well. There have been some good days, but there have been a lot of setbacks as well. It’s something we’ll monitor going forward.” The Wolves head coach didn’t sound like he’s expecting much from Pekovic going forward, tweets Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune.
  • According to Thibodeau, Minnesota hasn’t talked much to Gorgui Dieng or Shabazz Muhammad about possible rookie-scale contract extensions. However, that could happen before the October 31 deadline, writes Youngblood.
  • The Wolves brought in free agent swingman Rasual Butler “for a couple days,” according to Thibodeau, who says the team will “make a final decision in the next day or so” on whether to add the veteran to its camp roster.

Traded Second-Round Picks For 2017 NBA Draft

The 2017 NBA draft is still more than nine months away, but with the start of the regular season fast approaching, it’s worth taking stock of how this season’s results will affect next year’s draft. Depending on how certain teams perform during the 2016/17 campaign, other clubs will have the opportunity to pick up an extra selection or two.

Earlier this week, we looked at the first-round picks that could change hands during the 2017 draft. A few more first-rounders will likely be involved in trades prior to the trade deadline, or leading up to next year’s draft night, but there are already several picks that are ticketed for new teams, depending on where they land.

That’s even more true of the second round — more than half of the league’s second-round picks for 2017 have been involved in trades so far, and while some of those picks will ultimately remain with the sending teams due to protection conditions, many will move to the receiving teams.

Below, you’ll find a breakdown of the second-round picks that could (or will) change hands. For each selection, we make a note of which team is sending and receiving it, the protection or conditions on the pick, and what will happen if the protection language prevents the pick from being conveyed. For instance, the Heat will send their second-rounder to either the Hawks or Grizzlies, depending on where it lands. The team that doesn’t get a pick from Miami this year will get the Heat’s second-rounder in 2018.

Here are 2017’s traded second-round picks:

Atlanta Hawks

  • From: Brooklyn Nets
  • Protection: None

Atlanta Hawks

  • From: Miami Heat
  • Protection: 31-40
  • If not conveyed: Hawks will receive Heat’s 2018 second-rounder (unprotected).

Boston Celtics

  • From: Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Protection: None

Boston Celtics

  • From: Los Angeles Clippers
  • Protection: None

Boston Celtics

  • From: Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Protection: None

Brooklyn Nets

  • From: Boston Celtics
  • Conditions: Nets will receive pick (protected 31-45) if Celtics swap first-rounders with Nets.
  • If not conveyed: Celtics’ obligation to Nets is extinguished.

Brooklyn Nets

  • From: Indiana Pacers
  • Protection: 45-60
  • If not conveyed: Nets will have opportunity to get Pacers’ second-rounder (protected 45-60) in 2018.

Denver Nuggets

  • From: Memphis Grizzlies
  • Protection: 31-35
  • If not conveyed: Nuggets will receive Grizzlies’ 2018 second-rounder (unprotected).

Denver Nuggets

  • From: Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Protection: 31-35
  • If not conveyed: Nuggets will receive Thunder’s 2018 second-rounder (unprotected).

Houston Rockets

  • From: Denver Nuggets
  • Protection: None

Houston Rockets

  • From: Portland Trail Blazers
  • Protection: None

Memphis Grizzlies

  • From: Miami Heat
  • Protection: 41-60
  • If not conveyed: Grizzlies will receive Heat’s 2018 second-rounder (unprotected).

New Orleans Pelicans

  • From: Philadelphia 76ers
  • Protection: None

New York Knicks

  • From: Chicago Bulls
  • Protection: None

New York Knicks

  • From: Houston Rockets
  • Protection: None

Philadelphia 76ers

  • From: Two of Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks, and Utah Jazz.
  • Conditions: Sixers will receive the most and least favorable of these four picks.

Utah Jazz

  • From: Two of Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks, and Utah Jazz.
  • Conditions: Jazz will receive the second- and third-most favorable of these four picks, including their own.

The following teams technically acquired second-round draft picks via trade and could receive those selections in 2017. However, these picks are heavily protected and won’t be conveyed to the receiving team unless the sending team finishes with a top-five record in the NBA. If that doesn’t happen, the receiving team is out of luck. The details:

Minnesota Timberwolves

  • From: New Orleans Pelicans
  • Protection: 31-55
  • If not conveyed: Pelicans’ obligation to Timberwolves is extinguished.

Orlando Magic

  • From: Sacramento Kings
  • Protection: 31-55
  • If not conveyed: Kings’ obligation to Magic is extinguished.

San Antonio Spurs

  • From: Atlanta Hawks
  • Protection: 31-55
  • If not conveyed: Hawks’ obligation to Spurs is extinguished.

RealGM’s database of future traded pick details was used in the creation of this post.

Basketball Insiders Previews Wolves' Season

  • Although they’re bullish about the Timberwolves‘ long-term future, the Basketball Insiders team still doesn’t expect Minnesota to finish higher than third or fourth in the Northwest division this season, with the Trail Blazers, Jazz, and Thunder all vying for postseason spots as well.

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