Community Shootaround: Wolves’ Offseason Outlook

The Timberwolves became the latest NBA team to be eliminated from the playoffs on Wednesday night, dropping Game 5 in Houston and losing their series against the Rockets by a 4-1 margin. With that loss, the offseason is officially underway in Minnesota.

The Wolves’ season came to a disappointing and underwhelming end after the team slipped down to the No. 8 seed and only managed a single playoff win, but there were plenty of positives to take away from the 2017/18 campaign. For one, Minnesota snapped its 14-year postseason drought, earning its spot in the playoffs in dramatic fashion by beating Denver on the final day of the regular season.

“I told the players I’m very proud of what you did, to get out of the hole we were in to win 47 games,” head coach and president Tom Thibodeau said after Wednesday’s loss, per Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. “To get into the playoffs after 14 years of not being in the playoffs, to do it in a very tight playoff race, to finish one game out of the fourth spot, it’s a major jump from where we were two years ago. … I’m very proud of what this team did. It was not easy and they fought like crazy to get it done.”

There are other reasons for optimism in Minnesota. Jimmy Butler‘s knee injury limited the team’s ceiling down the stretch and in the postseason, so the Wolves will be in a better position to make a deeper playoff run next spring if he’s healthy. Additionally, Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns are still just 23 and 22 years old, respectively, so there’s room for continued growth from both of those former No. 1 overall picks.

Still, there are some possible areas for concern. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks and The Athletic’s Danny Leroux detail in separate pieces (subscriptions required for both), the Timberwolves’ roster is starting to get expensive, particularly with Towns up for a maximum-salary extension this summer.

Minnesota will have Towns on his modest rookie contract for one more year, but the team already has $110MM on the books for 2018/19, so its ability to spend in free agency will be very limited. The team’s cap sheet for 2019/20 is slightly cleaner for now, but adding new max deals for Towns and Butler would change that equation quickly, potentially putting the Wolves into tax territory and leaving little flexibility for upgrades.

The growing cost of the Timberwolves’ roster mean that the team may have to count on veteran free agents to take discounts to join a potential contender, as owner Glen Taylor recently noted. In order for that to be a viable strategy though, the Wolves will have to convince those free agents of two things: First, that the club is capable of title contention with its current core, and second, that there will be worthwhile roles off the bench under Thibodeau, who notoriously leans heavily on his top six or seven players.

A more extreme approach to addressing the Wolves’ long-term cap outlook would be to make changes to the current core. In a column for The Star Tribune, Jim Souhan makes a case for trading Wiggins and fully committing to Butler, but that’s easier said than done. Wiggins, who is coming off underwhelming performances in Games 4 and 5 of the Houston series, will get expensive on July 1, when his five-year, maximum-salary extension takes effect. Moving a deal that big in terms of years and money can be done – as the Clippers showed with Blake Griffin – but it would be tricky.

As the Wolves’ offseason gets underway, we want to hear your thoughts on what’s next for the club. Do trades need to be made? Does Minnesota have to re-sign Nemanja Bjelica in restricted free agency? Does Wiggins’ new max deal have albatross potential, or will he make it a worthwhile investment? Is Thibodeau the right choice to continue coaching the team and making personnel decisions for the long term?

Head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

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17 thoughts on “Community Shootaround: Wolves’ Offseason Outlook

  1. First, a few trades need to happen. Teague hasn’t been bad, but he is expensive and we have other options. I’d like to see both him and Dieng traded. I don’t care what we get in return, as long as we dump their contracts without giving up 1st round picks. Re-sign Rose and extend Tyus. Those two would form a great time-share at point guard with Tyus starting. Bring Brooks back and draft Khyri Thomas. Thomas could help out at pg if there are injuries and would be exactly what they need off the bench at sg. I would love to have Bjelly back for the long haul. I wish Thibs would give him a little over 20 minutes a game. But, that won’t happen and I feel like someone is going to offer him a contract we couldn’t/shouldn’t match. We need to move KAT to pf and bring in a defensive stopper at center. Rim protection has killed us. I’d love to take a (cheap) risk on Nerlens Noel. I don’t think any veterans will be willing to sign for a discount, because they know they probably won’t get playing time with Thibs as coach.

    Opinions?

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    • hiflew

      Overall not a bad plan. Getting Noel to pair with KAT would be great, but I don’t know how cheap he will be. I could see his contract being all over the spectrum. I could see someone offering him a big 4 year deal or I could see his market evaporate and having to take a 1 year ‘make good” deal. I don’t remember any free agent where I was in this much doubt about the salary range.

      I seriously doubt anyone is trading for Dieng right now. Maybe moving KAT to PF and just going with Dieng at C is the best move for now. Either way, I think Minny is a team on the rise.

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      • Yeah, I don’t see anyone willing to take dieng either. I’ve gone through so many scenarios in my head and none of them make sense for the other team.

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        • Maybe Celtics? I feel they would actually use him correctly too.

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  2. tatumszn2018

    For Wiggins I’d look at Magic, Charlotte and Phoenix. Clippers as a darkhorse. Question is do you believe he could be “the guy” or is he just an overpaid Jeff Green?

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  3. Philly Fan

    A Gorgui Dieng salary dump should be considered but Minnesota would likely have to part with a 1st Rd Pick, something which they should avoid at all costs.

    Nemanja Bjelica should be resigned for around 3 yrs / $15.5MM with a partial guarantee in year three.

    Wiggins’ new max deal is an awful contract. With Teague and Butler being the primary ball-handlers and Towns being the 1st option, Wiggins simply won’t have the ball enough to be an effective scorer. And since he’s not a playmaker or good defender, the more he plays on this team, the worse he will look. He should be traded this summer if the T-Wolves want to receive the best value back.

    Thibodeau is solid as a coach but he shouldn’t be making personnel decisions.

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  4. Hen1CHC

    Top 4 team in the West when their healthy, I’d say just little changes and give it another chance

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  5. Dionis

    There’s friction between Wiggins and Butler. There’s no way I see Jimmy staying in Minnesota past this current deal unless Wiggins gets moved. Butler is not the leader he makes himself out to be, exceptional player but he’s not leading Minnesota anywhere with both Wiggins and Towns but a second round exit at best. Wiggins belongs on the Raptors, move Jonás,CJ Miles, and Powell for Wiggins. Raptors get a reliable scorer beyond Lowry and Derozan and the Wolves can move Towns to the 4 and put Jonás at the 5.

    Raptors

    Lowry-Derozan-Wiggins-Ibaka-Poetl

    Wolves

    Teague-Miles-Butler-Towns-Jonas

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  6. Thibs is not a good gm. First mistake trading lavine. Second error swaping Rubio for Teague. First thing thibs needs to do as a coach is use his bench more, in order to avoid injuries to the starters and to have them fresh for the playoffs. Second thing, he needs to bench players who take stupid shots. As for the off season , RESIGN rose , trade Wiggins, sign lavine to an offer sheet, insert dieng at center , move towns to power forward. For Wiggins, I would try to obtain draft picks, multiple 1st rounds , or a starting point guard. Pick up exum as third point behind rose and whoever starts. Trade tyus. Sign noel to a price it deal. I would love for Rubio to come back to Minnesota good distributor and good defense. With Teague Wiggins gone , we would regain financial flexibility to fill out the roster.
    Rubio, lavine, butler, towns, noel/dieng
    Rose, , , Taj, noel/dieng
    Exum, , , Patton

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    • For noel it’s a prove it deal not price sorry about that.

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      • Rubio would never come back, plus I’m pretty sure there is another year on his deal. Bulls would match any deal for lavine. Wolves are in win now mode, so draft picks for Wiggins makes no sense. Why would you trade tyus?

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        • Not a fan of undersized point guards and he, in my opinion, doesn’t have the skill set to compensate. Not great on defense or on offense. He has his moments, but not consistent enough. As for Rubio, I unfortunately agree, just a dumb move on the part of thibs. But if we dump wiggins and go close to all in on Lavine, the bulls might not match, I don’t personally believe the entire front office is sold on him or willing to commit close to a max salary. Could possibly work out a sign and trade, like our 1st rd draft pick this year and a player like tyus.

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        • draft picks make plenty of sense in order to complete the roster with cheep contracts. Right now the wolves are looking at 3 max contracts. Rookie scale salaries look pretty good when you are going to be close or over the luxury tax. And that is how you build a dynasty, by either keeping the young talent in order to replace a piece of your core or to trade him down the line for more future assets. Otherwise you are stuck with over the hill veterans that are on their last legs. In a year or two, we won’t be able to afford a Taj contract.

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    • Dennis Carlson

      good analysis, none of the local sportswriters have a clue. As for Wiggins trade Dionis Toronto idea good. Maybe Raptors would move Lowry if Delon Wright is ready to take over.

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  7. formerlyz

    They need Wiggins to significantly improve. He needs to get better defensively, and he needs to consistently play harder. They also need a wing shooter, and a wing defender. They should keep Derrick Rose. They seemed to play well with him in a few lineups, including multiple guard lineups. They also need KAT to play with more defensive effort on a consistent basis.

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  8. x%sure

    Nice to hear that DRose is appreciated. Also I like that it is fans of some other team that will be always frustrated with Wiggins.

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