2020 NBA Offseason Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves

Hoops Rumors is previewing the 2020 offseason for all 30 NBA teams. We’re looking at the key questions facing each club, as well as the roster decisions they’ll have to make this fall. Today, we’re focusing on the Minnesota Timberwolves.


Salary Cap Outlook

The Timberwolves only have about $75MM in fully guaranteed money on their books for 2020/21 so far, so they could theoretically create some cap room. But after accounting for James Johnson‘s player option ($16MM), along with cap holds for Juan Hernangomez ($9.96MM), Malik Beasley ($8.2MM), and their first-round picks (likely about $12.7MM combined), that cap room is nonexistent.

Minnesota figures to enter the offseason as an over-the-cap team, with the full mid-level exception (about $9.3MM) and bi-annual exception ($3.6MM) available.

Our full salary cap preview for the Timberwolves can be found right here.


Roster Decisions To Watch

Options:

  • James Johnson, player option: $16,047,100 (Oct. 17 deadline)

Non-Guaranteed Contracts:

Two-Way Contracts:

Free Agents:

  • Evan Turner (Bird)
  • Malik Beasley (RFA; Bird)
  • Juan Hernangomez (RFA; Bird)

2020 Draft Assets

First Round:

  • No. 1 overall pick
  • No. 17 overall pick

The Timberwolves lucked out in the lottery, nabbing the first overall pick for the second time in the last six years. The Wolves will also receive the Nets’ first-round pick, which was lottery-protected but landed at No. 17.

Second Round:

  • No. 33 overall pick

Minnesota is the only team picking between Nos. 31-40 that didn’t trade its second-round pick. It falls at No. 33.


Three Key Offseason Questions

1. How will the Timberwolves use the No. 1 overall pick?

Having traded away their top-three protected 2021 first-round pick in February to acquire D’Angelo Russell, the Timberwolves may very well find themselves without a lottery selection a year from now. So securing the top pick in this year’s draft was a fortuitous turn of events for a franchise in need of a talent injection.

Unfortunately for president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas, there no Zion Williamson, Anthony Davis, or LeBron James at the top of the 2020 draft class. With no consensus No. 1 prospect and no players who are locks to become franchise cornerstones, Minnesota faces a tough decision with that first overall pick.

Drafting for need usually isn’t the right move anywhere in the lottery, let alone at No. 1, but with Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns installed as their obvious building blocks at the point and in the middle, the Timberwolves would have to feel pretty confident about the fit if they were to take another point guard like LaMelo Ball or another big man like James Wiseman.

Going in that direction isn’t out of the question. Jonathan Givony of ESPN projects the Wolves to select Ball at No. 1 in his latest mock draft, noting that the youngster’s size will make it easy to pair him with another guard. Givony acknowledges that a Ball/Russell backcourt might be a disaster defensively, but suggests that no player in this year’s class has more star power than Lonzo Ball‘s youngest brother.

There’s another player who is viewed as a candidate for No. 1 though, and he might be a better match for Minnesota: Anthony Edwards. The former Georgia shooting guard is a talented scorer and has the strength, length, and quickness necessary to develop into a lockdown defender, ESPN’s Mike Schmitz writes in his scouting report.

Given his obvious fit on the wing alongside Russell and Towns, Edwards looks like the safest pick for the Wolves at this point. But this draft figures to be an unpredictable one, so nothing can be ruled out yet. I could even see Rosas trading down, if another team wants to move up to nab a player who isn’t atop the Wolves’ board. Such a deal could be a way to replace the 2021 first-round pick Minnesota traded away earlier this year.

2. How much will RFAs Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez cost?

When they sent Robert Covington to Houston in a four-team deadline deal in February, the Timberwolves chose to flip Houston’s 2020 first-round pick to Denver in order to land Beasley and Hernangomez.

Neither player had been all that impressive in 2019/20 up until that point, having been buried in the Nuggets’ rotation. But they made the Wolves look good over the next 14 games, right up until the season was suspended. Hernangomez contributed a solid 12.9 PPG and 7.3 RPG on .453/.420/.609 shooting in 29.4 minutes per contest, while Beasley was even better, with 20.7 PPG and 5.1 RPG on .472/.426/.750 shooting in 33.1 MPG.

The duo’s success was a mixed blessing for the Wolves, who will now be tasked with retaining both players in restricted free agency. Part of the reason the Nuggets were willing to move on from Beasley and Hernangomez was an understanding that they probably wouldn’t be willing to pay to re-sign them, but Minnesota is under more pressure to do so in order to make sure they recoup solid value from the Covington trade.

Few teams have cap room available, and those that do may turn to other free agents rather than trying to pry a pair of promising young restricted free agents away from a rebuilding team. But the Wolves will still probably have to pony up if they want to secure Beasley and Hernangomez for the long term. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the duo ends up costing a combined $25MM+ per year.

If the Wolves are uneasy about the financial commitment it will take to lock up either player, the club could explore a sign-and-trade. Those were popular a year ago for RFAs who wanted to change teams, allowing their old clubs to acquire draft picks or other assets in return for declining to exercise their right of first refusal.

3. How will the impending sale of the team affect the Wolves going forward?

Longtime Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor confirmed last month that he was exploring a sale of the franchise, and there appears to be momentum for former Grizzlies minority stakeholder Daniel Straus to emerge as the club’s new controlling owner.

Whether the next owner is Straus or someone else, we don’t know much about how they would run an NBA team. The most pressing question, of course, would be whether the new owner would commit to keeping the team in Minnesota long-term, but it seems unlikely Taylor would sell to anyone not willing to do so.

Beyond that issue, there would be plenty of other questions to answer. How much would the new owner be willing to spend on players, coaches, and executives from year to year? Would they be patient with a rebuilding process or push to contend sooner rather than later? Would they want to have a hand in basketball matters at all? Would they want to make any leadership changes, perhaps replacing Rosas and/or head coach Ryan Saunders?

No fan wants its favorite team to be run by an owner who has a desire to cut costs or overrule the team’s top basketball experts on key roster decisions. If and when Taylor sells, it’ll be worth keeping a close eye on how the new ownership group adjusts to the job.

Information from Basketball Insiders and ESPN was used in the creation of this post. Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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29 thoughts on “2020 NBA Offseason Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves

  1. Matrix 2

    Paul millsap would be a nice signing since they have like 15 mill in cap I think, he is getting older but could be nice along kat. Doubt would happen though cause Beasley probably gonna ask for 10-15 million and have hernangomez who they’ll try to resign for bout 5 million

  2. KnickerbockerAl

    TWolves should Bring back Love. He’s a good fit for young team. At a position of need, solid leadership.
    That #17 pick would do it. Cavs need picks, young players. Johnson, Pick, Beasley could get it done. HermanGomez plays the wing SF. Drafting Edwards you don’t need Beasley. Love, KAT, DAngelo is a solid trio. Plus Edwards, you got Culver there, HermanGomez.

    • hiflew

      The issue there is that Beasley has already started to get acclimated to the league and Edwards has not. Edwards is a fine talent, but in a stronger draft class, he would be a back end of the top 10 pick. He is likely not one of those #1 picks that is going to come in an just set the league ablaze. He didn’t set the SEC ablaze in his one year there, so he’s definitely not going to set the NBA ablaze. He will take a couple of years at least. The question is, does Minnesota believe that it is ready to go now, or can afford to let Edwards grow.

      Personally, I would trade out of this spot because KAT and DLo are 24 now, but they are ready to start playoff games. The Wolves need to start assembling a playoff roster, not a rebuilding roster. Swapping 1 for 8 with the Knicks to pick up Knox, Smith/Ntiklina, and a future unprotected 1st or 2 future #1s with some protection would be the best idea in my mind.

  3. Matrix 2

    No because they need defense in paint and that wouldn’t really help but just give a 3rd option. Beasley is a free agent and the Cavs already have plenty of Sg with sexton, Porter and windler. The Cavs would probably seek a a forward since they would then have nance and osman who are ok role players

    • Chucktoad1

      Wiggins for Love makes all the sense in the world for both teams. Wiggins is still young and has shown flashes of being a very good player, just needs to do it consistently. He’s also got more star potential then anyone on the Cavs current roster. I’d much rather throw money at Wiggins even if he doesn’t work out then pay Love.
      For the warriors Love can stretch the floor, move the ball and rebound while knowing how to win.

      • Jeff Zanghi

        I think if I were the Warriors I’d much rather have Wiggins than an aging Love… sure if I’m the Cavs finding a way to trade the aging and costly Love for a young potential star in Wiggins would be a no-brainer… just don’t see why the Warriors would make that move unless they really don’t have any fair in Wiggins.

        • Sillivan

          Wiggins is #1 healthy player in the NBA. He only missed one game in his entire Wolves career.
          How about Drummond if opt in?
          Drummond doesn’t fit any team?

      • Sillivan

        John Hollinger suggests a trade in which the Warriors send Andrew Wiggins, Kevon Looney, Jordan Poole and then draft a player who the 76ers want at No. 2 in exchange for Simmons and Al Horford.

  4. Sillivan

    Taylor net worth is about 3 billion. He wants to sell the team for $1.2 billion. I am not sure Daniel Straus has net worth $1.2 billion.

    Rosas is a new GM. He is afraid to take the risk. Highly likely he is going to pick Edwards.

    2. How much will RFAs Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez cost?
    My projection for new owner
    Beasley 4 years 32 million
    Juan Hernangomez 4 years 16 million
    unlikely to sign and trade
    Likely to let them walk for nothing
    No Wolves rank at top 200 defensive efficiency this season.

    • Sutter

      How is Rosas afraid to take risks? He traded up in last years draft (risk).
      Traded 3/4 of the roster, including their 2021 1st round pick at the deadline (risk).
      Seem like Rosas is all about risks! As I Wolves fan I just hope they are highly calculated risks.

      • Sillivan

        New owner and new GM.
        He is highly unlikely to take Ball at 1.
        That is what I mean.

  5. Jeff Zanghi

    I think the Timberwolves could really wind up being a solid team next year. I’d even go so far as to say they’ll be a playoff team. I’m no Wolves fan (I’m a Celtics fan) but I’ve got to say I do kind of like their young core — and add onto that that they’ve got the number 1 pick this off-season and I really think they could be going places. Obviously not a title-contender BUT they are definitely headed in the right direction and with Towns and Russell they’ve got 2 legit stars who, if they can be more consistent, could really be quite the dynamic duo going forward. Not to mention that Beasley played like a legitimate 3rd option for a playoff team after the trade… if he can actually put up numbers even similar to what he did with MIN last year (even if it drops to like 16/17 PPG that’s still pretty solid for a number 3 scorer)… they’ve got 3 legitimate scoring options plus the 1st overall pick!

    • Sillivan

      How do you compare Wolves to Suns and Pelicans?
      These are likely to be lottery teams

      • hiflew

        Well, all three are lottery teams right now, so maybe the comparison is not as strange as you think.

  6. x%sure

    If Rossas waits out his new RFAs, and just matches, he can probably keep them for a pretty moderate amount. They should draft a player who won’t fritz out if things collapse— Edwards not Ball or Wiseman, or trade down for Okoro. I am not bullish on Wolves fortunes in a long season.

    The Wolves lack toughness and the team will be terrible on defense. The WC will be hard on them and things will become clear. A shortened, bubble-like season, which is possible, would help them stay composed and block a collapse. Hard to call covid effects lucky, but they were lucky enough to get the #1pick.

    Taylor should sell before a RS gets very far. A new owner and GM could hardly be worse for the franchise. Straus should get in there and influence the pick if he’s serious, maybe trade the pick forward to next year.

    • x%sure

      Agree with Silli, Beasley 8/$32, but Hernangomez might look like a poor man’s Micl Porter and get offered 4/$22.

      Gotta say, their top thirteen in minutes played features Towns, a 2way player, 3 young vets under PER12, and 8 players departed. They do have decent youngsters but suspect leadership. Culver shot 46% FTs.

  7. Count that baby and a foul!

    I wonder if Beasley is has legot fringe all star potential in the right situation. Makes me wonder can he be a jackpot for a team looking to steal him away.

  8. harden-westbrook-mvps

    Taking James Wiseman with the first pick overall would be just like 2013 all over again. Everyone that year thought that Anthony Bennett would make it in the NBA. I won’t be the least bit surprised if/when Wiseman ends up just like him.

    • x_burner_X

      They should trade their pick. Whos the best player they can get for their #1 pick? 1+17+Culver for Siakam?
      Maybe 1+J.Johnson contract for Jimmy Graham, Miles Bridges and PJ Washington? This gives them cap space to maybe sign Harris or Bertans for shooting

      • jbrown4

        Devonte Graham*

        Why on earth would the Raptors, or the Hornets, ever do those trades?

      • hiflew

        Jimmy Graham? Are they trading with the early 2010s New Orleans Saints? If so, I think they should hold out for Reggie Bush.

  9. Rob playoffs 2020

    Many interesting ideas. My two cents, who gets the best of this trade? Three team trade Atlanta, Minnesota, and Sacromento? Atlanta gets #1, Okogie/Layman. Wolves get Bagley/Reddish #6 & #12. Sacramento gets Collins/Culver #17. Wolves move down and up in draft. Better position to pick players that fit. Starters DLo, Beasley, Reddish, Bagley, Towns. Bench Mclaughin, Vassel, Johnson, Hernangomez, Ried. Pick at #12 Willams #33 Oturu expect they need development but could be contributors next year. Would Atlanta do trade, how bad do they want Edwards? Do they want to pay Collins? Would Sacramento do it? Bagley has risks, but he is only 21. The owner is not showing a lot of faith, firing GM for picking Bagley, how does the kid feel? Would the owner want to move him and start clean? All the player the Wolves get would have upside defensively without as much issues offensively. Btw Beasley turned down 3 year 30 million, so 4 years 32 million probably not going to work. Probality need 60 million, team option 4th year.

  10. masisk33

    Draft Wiseman. Surprise Everyone. Watch him become a D. Howard type defensive player next to KAT’s offense.

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