Minnesota Timberwolves Rumors

And-Ones: Witte, Young, Dragic

August 31 at 5:29pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Sixers director of player personnel, Courtney Witte, is leaving to take a scouting position with the Clippers, Dei Lynam of CSNPhilly.com reports. According to Lynam’s source, Witte had been told by the Sixers that his contract wasn’t going to be renewed, and that the search for Witte’s replacement has been “ongoing for some time.”

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The league has trended towards smaller lineups the last few seasons, but John Zitzler of Basketball Insiders takes a look at five centers that are on the rise. Zitzler believes bigger things are in store for DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Drummond, Jonas Valanciunas, DeAndre Jordan, and Nikola Vucevic.
  • In an interview with Michael Rand of the Star Tribune, Thaddeus Young was asked how the rebuilding process differs between the Wolves and the Sixers. Young said, “I think the situation in Philly is much different. It’s the same process, but this team is much more competitive and it’s a better roster. Philly, they were getting rid of everybody and getting worse. But I think [Philadelphia GM Sam Hinkie] is doing a great job and has made some big moves.”
  • Zoran Dragic has re-negotiated his contract with Unicaja Malaga, reports La Opinion de Malaga (Translation by Emiliano Carchia of Sportando). Dragic’s contract has a buyout clause that he can exercise next June if he decides to leave for the NBA, Carchia notes. The Pacers are reportedly among the teams eyeing Dragic.

And-Ones: Wiggins, Dragic, Ingles

August 30 at 10:33pm CDT By Cray Allred

While a dark cloud hung over the Wolves franchise from the moment Kevin Love made it known he was prepared to move on, Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press reports that the team’s fan base has been energized by the package Minnesota received in the Love trade. The Wolves just set a team record for most season-ticket packages sold in a week, after netting Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, and Thaddeus Young in the franchise-altering move. Here’s more from Minnesota and the rest of the league:

  • Wiggins tells Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune that he is happy to have been traded to the Wolves, where he will be thrust into a much bigger role than he would have carved out with the superstar-heavy Cavs.“I wanted to go to a place where I’m pushed to do a lot and become a special piece for the team. It’ll help me reach my potential,” said Wiggins. “I said I wanted to play for a team that wanted me, and now I’m here and I feel nothing but love.” 
  • The Pacers are one of the teams interested in Zoran Dragic, reports Orazio Cauchi of Sportando. The younger brother of Goran Dragic is under contract in Spain. It is unclear if the guard is poised to exercise any sort of escape clause that would allow him to come stateside, although he’s reportedly eager to someday play in the Association.
  • Joe Ingles is generating interest from multiple NBA teams, tweets David Pick of Eurobasket.com. Pick says the Australian wing, who spent last season with Maccabi Tel Aviv, will need to perform well at the FIBA World Cup to get a shot.

And-Ones: Flynn, Pistons, Love

August 30 at 10:55am CDT By Eddie Scarito

Former NBA lottery pick Jonny Flynn has signed a contract  with Capo d’Orlando of the Italian League, the team announced (translation by Sportando). Flynn last saw action in the NBA with the Blazers during the 2011/12 season. His career numbers are 9.2 PPG, 1.9 RPG, and 3.9 APG. His career slash line is .400/.338/.809.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • With Greg Monroe likely to sign his qualifying offer, the Pistons‘ frontcourt trio of Monroe, Josh Smith, and Andre Drummond will be together for another season. Coach Stan Van Gundy‘s challenge will be to figure out how to use them more effectively than they were last season, writes Perry A. Farrell of the Detroit Free Press.
  • Kevin Love has essentially traded places with Chris Bosh, writes Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. Love is now the third option on the Cavs, much like Bosh was alongside LeBron James and Dwyane Wade with the Heat, Winderman notes, and it’s the statistical sacrifices of the third player that determines if these star trios are successful.
  • With the news that the Spurs are interested in Ray Allen, Nick Borges of ESPN.com runs down the free agent market for the future Hall-of-Famer. Borges notes that if Allen is seeking a title contender and the highest salary, then San Antonio is the best option. The Spurs can offer Allen the $5.3MM non-taxpayer mid-level exception. The Clippers, Mavs, Heat, and Cavaliers can only give Allen a veteran’s minimum contract.

And-Ones: Wolves, Martin, Allen

August 29 at 7:36pm CDT By Zach Links

Wolves president Flip Saunders hopes the Wolves new players’ athleticism will translate into improved defense, Andy Greder of the Pioneer Press writes. Saunders said, “I’m hoping that the biggest change is going to be defensively. Always a key in your ability to guard is your athleticism. The quicker you are, the longer you are, the better chance you have to be a good defensive team.”

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Doc Rivers was in contact with free agent guard Ray Allen earlier this summer, and Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com (on Twitter) expects the Clippers to make a run at him again.
  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is still over the moon about reacquiring Tyson Chandler this summer, as NBA.com’s Jeff Caplan writes.  “It was kind of surprising that we got it done, just because with that many pieces and the fact that no one finds out,” Cuban said of the trade. “I’m glad we got it done. We’re excited. He can kind of quarterback our defense, he makes everybody better defensively and he’ll make Monta [Ellis] better offensively.”
  • Keith Schlosser of The Knicks Blog wonders if the Knicks would welcome back Kenyon Martin.  Martin gave the Knicks one of the most intimidating and physical defensive presences they’ve had in years, but he struggles to stay on the court.  Even though he’s seen just 50 games of action over the last two seasons, Schlosser sees K-Mart as a player who the Knicks could call on midseason if Amar’e Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani, or Samuel Dalembert have injury troubles of their own.

Eddie Scarito contributed to this post.

Northwest Notes: Love, LeBron, Morrow

August 28 at 10:12pm CDT By Charlie Adams

Earlier today, Utah announced that Toure’ Murry had signed with the team on a multi-year deal. With his pact in tow, the Jazz boast a total of at 18 contracts on their books as training camp approaches. Teams can only roster 15 players once the regular season begins, so Utah will need to decide which guys on partially guaranteed deals are worth keeping around. Here’s tonight’s look at the Northwest Division:

  • Kevin Love recently made comments indicating that he spoke to LeBron James about teaming up while still a member of the Wolves, but such an admission won’t allow the league to hit Cleveland with a tampering penalty, as salary cap expert Larry Coon explains on SiriusXM NBA Radio (audio link via SoundCloud).
  • After being heavily shopped by the Sixers at last season’s trade deadline, Thaddeus Young now feels like he’s “wanted” as a member of the Wolves, as Marc Narducci of the Inquirer details.
  • Although Anthony Morrow isn’t exactly a big name, Susan Bible of Basketball Insiders points out that his presence in Oklahoma City should help bolster the Thunder’s weak shooting. Bible says the decision to bring in the former Pelicans swingman could eventually be considered a great move down the road.

And-Ones: Fesenko, Wolves, Team USA

August 28 at 6:25pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Free agent center Kyrylo Fesenko made a positive impression on the Wolves during summer league play, and he’s dropped 20 pounds, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter link). Fesenko has played for the Jazz and the Pacers, and has career averages of 2.3 PPG and 2.0 RPG over 135 games played.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The package that the Wolves received for Kevin Love is superior to the one that the franchise had gotten for Kevin Garnett, writes Yannis Koutroupis of Basketball Insiders. By acquiring Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett from the Cavaliers, Minnesota essentially skipped two years of being in the NBA Draft lottery, opines Koutroupis.
  • Bob Donewald Jr. was hired by the Grizzlies to be the head coach of their NBA D-League team, the Iowa Energy, the team announced (Twitter link). Donewald most recently served as the head coach of the Chinese National Team, and he has also worked as an assistant coach for the Cavs and Pelicans.
  • With each game that passes for Team USA, so does the horror of Paul George‘s injury, writes Sam Amick of USA Today. In regards to how the team is coming to terms with what happened to George, Anthony Davis said, “That was a gruesome injury (to George), and it kind of affected all of us, even guys who weren’t playing. Basketball players around the world and people around the world got affected by it. But now we know that he’s doing fine and we’ve got to keep moving forward and try to win this gold for him. … I’m hoping that (this experience) makes me take a leap coming into the season next year.”

Explaining The Wolves’ Trade Exception

August 28 at 11:54am CDT By Chuck Myron

The Timberwolves reaped a trade exception worth $6,308,194 from Saturday’s completion of the Kevin Love trade, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders confirmed Tuesday. That wasn’t the only avenue the Wolves could have gone down to create an exception from the swap, as Pincus pointed out, and the multitude of scenarios in play seemed to add to the confusion that swirled about the precise details of the trade almost until it went down. The creation of trade exceptions is one of the most difficult to understand facets of a salary cap that’s otherwise convoluted enough, but we’ll try to explain how the Wolves wound up with the exception and examine alternate scenarios they could have pursued.

The trade itself was a three-teamer that saw Love go to the Cavs, Thaddeus Young, Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett go to the Wolves, and Luc Mbah a Moute, Alexey Shved and a draft pick go to the Sixers. Still, the league allows each team involved in a trade to frame it differently so that the ability to create trade exceptions is maximized. A trade exception is the product of a deal in which a team gives up more salary than it receives. They allow capped-out teams to participate in subsequent trades in which they take back more salary than they relinquish, trades that otherwise wouldn’t be legal under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.

The Timberwolves chose to regard the transaction as a pair of trades, one in which they swapped Love for Young and another in which they gave up Mbah a Moute and Shved and took back Wiggins and Bennett, as Pincus pointed out. It doesn’t matter that Love went to a different team than Young came from, nor that Mbah a Moute and Shved went to a different team than Wiggins and Bennett did. For the purposes of creating trade exceptions, it simply matters what the Wolves relinquished and what they got back.

Each of the component trades had to meet the NBA’s salary matching requirements for the capped-out Wolves and Cavs, but not for the Sixers, who are far beneath the cap. The swap of Love for Young meets the requirements for Minnesota, since the Wolves are giving up more than they’re receiving. Love’s $15,719,062 salary is more than 150% plus $100K greater than Young’s pay of $9,410,869, which would exceed the amount the salary matching rules allow if Philadelphia were over the cap, but all that matters is what the Wolves gave up and what they’re getting, so Philly’s situation isn’t relevant as it applies to the trade from Minnesota’s perspective. Of course, Love isn’t, nor was he ever going to be, a member of the Sixers, but again, the NBA allows teams to structure “mini-trades” as they see fit within the larger structure of the transaction itself for the purpose of creating trade exceptions.

The other “mini-trade” the Wolves pull off here sees them exchange Mbah a Moute, who makes $4,382,575, and Shved, at $3,282,057, for the salaries of Bennett ($5,563,920) and Wiggins ($5,510,640). They’re receiving more than they’re giving up, so the sum of the salaries for Bennett and Wiggins have to come in under the matching limit, which, once more, is 150% of the outgoing salary plus $100K, since the outgoing salary is less than $9.8MM. Mbah a Moute and Shved combine to make $7,664,632, so 150% of that figure is $11,496,948, and another $100K makes it $11,596,948. That’s not too much more than $11,074,560, the sum of the salaries for Bennett and Wiggins, but it works. Since this swap is allowed, it lets the Wolves pair it with the Love/Young swap, which is the one in which they give up more than they get. The amount of the difference between the salaries for Love and Young results in Minnesota’s $6,308,194 trade exception.

That exception is better than the $4,644,503 exception the Wolves could have come away with if they had framed the transaction as a trade of Love for Wiggins and Bennett and a swap of Mbah a Moute and Shved for Young. That structure is more straightforward, since the “mini-trades” involve exchanges of players that mimic the real-life structure of the transaction, but it’s also less advantageous for Minnesota, which is why the team took a more complicated route.

The Wolves also had the option of creating a pair of smaller trade exceptions that would add up to more than the one they chose. They could have done that if they considered Love for Young, Bennett and Wiggins as one trade and the offloading of Mbah a Moute and Shved as second and third trades. The league wouldn’t allow Mbah a Moute and Shved to go out on their own without the Sixers giving anything in return if they were standalone transactions, but since this is within the structure of a larger trade, it’s OK. The salary-matching requirement for the other component of this structure is different because Love makes more than $9.8MM. So, the Timberwolves are allowed to take back Love’s salary plus $5MM, or $20,719,062. The salaries for Bennett, Wiggins and Young add up to $20,485,429, a shade under the limit. But, again, it works.

That means the Wolves could reap exceptions of $4,382,575 and $3,282,057 equivalent to the salaries of Mbah a Moute and Shved. That would allow them to add a greater amount of salary via trade overall, but it wouldn’t allow them to acquire a single player who makes more than either amount, as the $6,308,194 Love-for-Young exception would. Minnesota chose to give itself the chance to net a more highly paid player, and while it could still split that exception on multiple acquisitions, the team wouldn’t be able to accommodate quite as much salary as it otherwise could have.

Understanding trade exceptions is no easy task, but it’s a requirement for every NBA executive. Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders and his staff surely spent plenty of hours during the weeks-long waiting period between the time the teams agreed to the trade and the time the trade became official crunching the numbers and weighing all the different scenarios at play. Cavs GM David Griffin and Sixers GM Sam Hinkie surely did, too, even though neither of them had a way to come away with a trade exception from the transaction. The Sixers have plenty of cap room that serves in place of any exception. The Cavs have Love and a team that will contend for the title. The Wolves have a new foundation and a mathematical weapon they can use to acquire a player they otherwise couldn’t within the next year.

Larry Coon’s Salary Cap FAQ and the Basketball Insiders Salary pages were used in the creation of this post. 

Trade Details: Love, Thabeet, Sefolosha, Dudley

August 27 at 9:41pm CDT By Alex Lee

Here is the latest on a handful of recent trades from cap guru Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times and Basketball Insiders:

  • Pincus reports that the Wolves received a $6.3MM trade exception in the Kevin Love deal, which is the difference between the salaries of Love and Thaddeus Young ($6,308,194 to be exact). It was originally thought to be worth $4,644,503 — the difference between Love’s salary and the combined salaries of Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett — but Pincus indicates that, for Minnesota’s purposes, Love was traded for Young while Wiggins and Bennett were traded for Luc Mbah a Moute and Alexey Shved (Twitter links).
  • The Thunder have sent $100K along with Hasheem Thabeet to the Sixers in exchange for a top-55 protected second round draft pick, according to Pincus, who confirms that the deal will award Oklahoma City a $1.25MM trade exception. With Thabeet likely to be cut and Philly nearly certain not to finish as a top-five team next season, the Thunder essentially paid $100K for a $1.25MM trade exception that they’ll hold until August 26th, 2015 (Twitter links here).
  • Pincus reminds us that the Thunder also pulled off a similar maneuver when they dealt Thabo Sefolosha to the Hawks last month. In that deal, Oklahoma City sent $550K to Atlanta which netted them a trade exception worth $4.15MM. (Twitter links).
  • The Sixers are a likely candidate to take on salary this season via their cap room with cash and draft picks as compensation, Pincus believes. Each team is permitted to send out and receive up to $3.3MM in cash per season, so Philly can still receive up to $3.2MM (Twitter links here).
  • The 2017 first-round pick headed from the Clippers to the Bucks in the Jared Dudley deal is lottery protected through 2019, at which time it will become two second-round picks, one for 2020 and the other for 2021, Pincus reports. Of course, as Pincus points out, the Clippers are likely to be a playoff team for the foreseeable future so the pick should be with Milwaukee come 2017 (Twitter links).
  • While both deals were officially announced by at least one of the participating teams, Pincus tweets that Dudley still has to pass a physical to go to the Bucks while Thabeet is not required to do so to head to the Sixers.

And-Ones: Lakers, Hornets, CDR, Young, Mavs

August 27 at 8:10pm CDT By Alex Lee

Michael Beasley‘s second audition with the Lakers was part of a larger free agent workout today, writes Sam Amick of USA Today, who lists Dexter Pittman, Greg Stiemsma, Daniel Orton, Bobby Brown, Toney Douglas, Ben Hansbrough and Malcolm Lee as the other participants. As Amick points out, GM Mitch Kupchak has two roster spots to play with going into the 2014/15 season.

Here is what else is happening around the league on Wednesday evening:

And-Ones: James Jones, Sterling, Young

August 27 at 5:02pm CDT By Chuck Myron

The Wolves haven’t made the playoffs in 10 years, leaving owner Glen Taylor to blame as the constant amid a changing cast of star players, coaches and executives, argues Tom Ziller of SB Nation. Taylor’s latest salvos, aimed at Kevin Love, reflect poorly upon him, too, Ziller believes. Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Heat and James Jones had mutual interest in a new deal this summer and they spoke about the possibility before he chose to sign with the Cavs instead, as he tells Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. Jones called his departure from Miami “the toughest professional decision I’ve had to make,” and while he previously cited a desire for more playing time as the reason why he left, he says to Winderman that he doesn’t harbor any resentment toward coach Erik Spoelstra.
  • Donald Sterling failed to petition the California Supreme Court by Monday’s deadline for review of a lower court’s decision to reject Sterling’s earlier petitions to halt or unwind the sale of the Clippers, according to Michael McCann of SI.com. That means Sterling has essentially run out of legal avenues to fight the sale, as McCann explains.
  • It was difficult to trade Thaddeus Young, Sixers GM Sam Hinkie admitted, citing the forward’s professionalism and positive attitude, as Michael Kaskey-Blomain of Philly.com chronicles. “Those things matter,” Hinkie said. “That’s why these decisions, while necessary, are still challenging.”