Jeff Teague

Windhorst’s Latest: Beal, Teague, Dragic, Covington, More

After a star-studded group of free agents hit the open market this summer, 2020’s free agent class isn’t expected to nearly as impressive, so front offices expect trades to “take center stage” over the next year, writes ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.

According to Windhorst, Bradley Beal‘s name is the one that keeps coming up when executives around the NBA discuss potential trade candidates, since the Wizards are facing a possible rebuilding – or at least retooling – process. However, sources tell Windhorst that Washington’s front office continues to resist inquiries on its All-Star shooting guard.

Here’s more from Windhorst’s article about possible trade targets from around the league:

  • Jeff Teague (Timberwolves) and Goran Dragic (Heat), two veteran point guards on expiring $19MM contracts, were recently discussed in possible deals, Windhorst confirms. Since Minnesota missed out on D’Angelo Russell and Miami found another way to complete its Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade, Teague and Dragic may end up staying put. Neither the Wolves nor the Heat are especially deep at the point guard spot, so if either club deals its veteran guard, it would need to line up another option at the position, Windhorst notes.
  • The Timberwolves were dangling Robert Covington in an effort to move up in the draft, but eventually dealt Dario Saric instead. Still, league executives wouldn’t be surprised if Covington is back on the trade market at some point in 2019/20, says Windhorst.
  • Windhorst is skeptical that the Grizzlies will be able to get a real asset in return for Andre Iguodala, suggesting that Memphis’ efforts to trade him may still eventually lead to a buyout.
  • The Cavaliers will likely try to move Tristan Thompson or John Henson by the trade deadline, according to Windhorst. Both big men are on expiring deals, with Thompson owed $18.5MM while Henson will make $10.5MM.

D’Angelo Russell Has T-Wolves Atop Wish List

Marc Stein of The New York Times is reporting that Nets’ restricted free agent point guard D’Angelo Russell has the Timberwolves at the top of his free-agent wish list. Stein adds that while the Lakers still have undeniable interest in Russell, Minnesota is increasingly confident they can make the necessary salary-cap moves to land the 23-year-old All-Star.

The T-Wolves are expected to meet with Russell in Los Angeles this evening at the beginning of free agency. The meeting will reportedly feature new president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas, head coach Ryan Saunders, and Russell’s good friend, Minnesota big man Karl-Anthony Towns.

The Wolves currently project to be an over-the-cap team, but the Nets have already indicated that they’d be willing to entertain a sign-and-trade arrangement that would enable Russell to reach a destination of his choosing. The most likely salary-matching pieces, however, are Andrew Wiggins and Jeff Teague, both of whom the Nets have no interest in whatsoever. As such, Minnesota would likely need to throw in some other assets to make the deal worthwhile to Brooklyn.

Minnesota could also attempt to trade some combination of Wiggins, Teague, Gorgui Dieng, and Robert Covington to open up cap space, but it’s unclear at this point what teams, if any, are interested in acquiring one or more of those players.

Timberwolves To Meet With D’Angelo Russell

The Timberwolves will meet with restricted free agent point guard D’Angelo Russell at the start of free agency, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

According to Haynes, the meeting will take place in Los Angeles and is expected to feature president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas, head coach Ryan Saunders, and franchise player Karl-Anthony Towns.

Minnesota has been repeatedly linked to Russell, a good friend of Towns, who is “really high” on adding the All-Star guard, per Haynes. However, the club’s cap situation makes the path to a deal tricky. Currently, the Wolves project to be an over-the-cap team, while Russell is expected to command a contract worth upwards of his maximum ($27.25MM) or at least something in that neighborhood.

The Nets, who have been strongly linked to Kyrie Irving, could theoretically agree to sign-and-trade Russell to Minnesota, but Brooklyn reportedly has no interest in taking on Andrew Wiggins or Jeff Teague, who would be the Wolves’ most realistic salary-matching pieces.

Even if the Wolves were able to trade Wiggins into another team’s cap room and renounced the rest of their free agents, they could only generate about $20MM in cap room, which likely wouldn’t be enough for Russell, who established himself in 2018/19 as one of the NBA’s most promising young guards.

A sign-and-trade, then, looks like the most viable path for the Wolves to acquire Russell, but at least one other team would have to get involved if the Nets are uninterested in taking on salary. It sounds like a long shot, but it’s worth noting that Rosas came from Houston’s front office, where he worked under Daryl Morey. Morey is no stranger to getting creative with the cap himself, and is currently trying to pursue an equally convoluted sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butler.

For what it’s worth, ESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote on Friday that one executive predicted to him that the Wolves would succeed in dealing Wiggins at some point and would get “net-neutral value” for him.

Lowe’s Latest: Walker, Brogdon, Mavs, Rubio, Butler

The Celtics might be the frontrunner for Kemba Walker‘s services but devoting most of their cap space to the All-Star point guard would leave them without any proven frontcourt players and limited ways to acquire them, ESPN’s Zach Lowe writes in an in-depth look at free agency. The addition of Walker would force coach Brad Stevens to use either Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum or Gordon Hayward at power forward, Lowe notes. Walker also ran more pick-and-rolls with the Hornets than Kyrie Irving did with the Celtics, yet Irving was sometimes accused of being a ball hog, Lowe adds.

Here are some other interesting tidbits from Lowe’s column:

  • Bucks restricted free agent Malcolm Brogdon will lose a suitor if the Celtics ink Walker. The Suns, Bulls, Mavericks and Pacers could potentially extend Brogdon an offer sheet but some teams are concerned about his foot issues.
  • The Mavericks are not looking to sign any high-level free agents.
  • The Pacers are looking to make a run at point guard Ricky Rubio. They are also likely to let power forward Thaddeus Young walk and go with a frontcourt of Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner.
  • The Heat could get involved in the Jimmy Butler sweepstakes via a sign-and-trade.
  • The Nets have no interest in doing a sign-and-trade with the Timberwolves involving restricted free agent D’Angelo Russell if it means taking back Jeff Teague or Andrew Wiggins.

Jeff Teague Picks Up 2019/20 Player Option

Timberwolves point guard Jeff Teague has elected to pick up his $19MM player option for the 2019/20 season, reports Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link). The decision, which doesn’t come as a surprise, puts Teague on track to reach unrestricted free agency in 2020.

Teague, who will turn 31 in June, battled injuries during the 2018/19 season and was able to play in just 42 games for Minnesota. In those games, he averaged 12.1 PPG, 8.2 APG, and 2.5 RPG in 30.1 minutes per contest. The Timberwolves, who finished the season well below .500, were 23-19 when the veteran guard played.

There’s optimism that Teague can get his foot healthy this summer and enjoy a more effective season in 2019/20, tweets Krawczynski.

For now, Teague is the only point guard under contract with Minnesota for next year. Derrick Rose and Jerryd Bayless will be unrestricted free agents this summer, while Tyus Jones will be eligible for restricted free agency. Even though Teague’s $19MM cap hit isn’t particularly team-friendly, Minnesota can at least enter the offseason knowing that one reliable point guard remains under club control.

With maximum-salary contracts for Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns on Minnesota’s books, the team already has $109MM+ in guaranteed money on its cap for 2019/20. As such, the Wolves figure to function as an over-the-cap club, limiting their ability to make roster upgrades.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Wolves Notes: Offseason, Saric, Experimentation

It’s been a busy year for the Timberwolves, who find themselves in a very different position now than they did this time last year. Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider) recently broke down the offseason priorities for a front office still reeling from a whirlwind few months.

Among the first tasks will be figuring out what to do with interim head coach Ryan Saunders, who took the reins after Tom Thibodeau‘s firing with predictably modest results given the circumstances. Minnesota will need to hire a general manager following Thibodeau’s departure and that individual would likely want a say in who is coaching the team.

Marks also flags Derrick Rose and Andrew Wiggins as players that Minnesota’s brass will need to mull over. Just how much of a priority should Rose be, he asks, and is it finally time to consider dramatically downgrading Wiggins’ role?

There’s more out of Minnesota today:

  • There’s a strong possibility that veteran point guard Jeff Teague opts into the final year of his contract, Michael Rand of the Star Tribune writes. Although the $19MM he’ll earn through 2019-20 may sound steep to Wolves fans eager to rebuild, Rand notes that the team was distinctly better with the 30-year-old on the court in 2018/19.
  • After an underwhelming season, Dario Saric and the Timberwolves can take solace in the fact that they’ll have another full season in which to gauge how well they fit together before a free agency decision needs to be made, Britt Robson of The Athletic writes.
  • The Timberwolves won’t be sneaking into the postseason this spring so head coach Ryan Saunders will use the final games of the campaign to tinker with different strategies. Per Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune, Sanders is particularly interested in seeing how Andrew Wiggins and rookie Keita Bates-Diop fare in unusual situations.

Wolves Rule Out Covington, Rose, Teague For Season

Robert Covington, Derrick Rose, and Jeff Teague won’t play again for the Timberwolves this season, the club announced today in a press release.

Covington, who hasn’t played for Minnesota since December 31 due to a right knee bone bruise, recently suffered a setback in his rehab process, per the Wolves. The veteran wing will require additional treatment before returning to the court, so the club will plan on getting him back for the 2019/20 season.

As for Rose, the former MVP had already missed four games due to soreness and swelling in his right elbow. An MRI taken this week revealed a chip fracture and a loose body in that elbow, which will sideline Rose for the season. He and the Wolves are weighing treatment options for the injury.

Teague, meanwhile, has also missed Minnesota’s last four games due to a left foot injury. He received an injection designed to treat chronic inflammation and will wear a boot, according to the team. The Wolves added that he’ll be re-evaluated in three weeks, which means he’ll miss the rest of the season too.

While Covington – a key piece in the package for Jimmy Butler this season – figures to remain a part of the Wolves’ core for the next few years, it’s possible Rose has played his last game for the team. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and is expected to draw interest around the league after a nice bounce-back season in which he averaged 18.0 PPG and 4.3 APG on .482/.370/.856 shooting in 51 games (27.3 MPG).

Teague’s place in Minnesota’s future is somewhat unclear. He has one more year left on his current contract, but may not be in the club’s long-term plans. It’s possible that the Wolves will look to shed his $19MM salary for 2019/20 this summer.

With Covington, Rose, and Teague out and Taj Gibson and Luol Deng also banged up, the Timberwolves will lean on Karl-Anthony Towns and their youngsters down the stretch — Tyus Jones, Andrew Wiggins, Josh Okogie, Dario Saric, Keita Bates-Diop, and Cameron Reynolds all figure to see plenty of action.

Trade Rumors: Davis, Randolph, Wolves, Morris

The Knicks and Lakers are equal on Anthony Davis‘ list of preferred destinations, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times. The Clippers and Bucks also remain in the top four, Stein adds. New York may make a bid for Davis before the deadline, but it should be in a stronger position after the draft lottery when everyone knows where its first-rounder will fall (Twitter link).

League sources tell Stein that Davis doesn’t expect to sign his next contract before he reaches free agency in 2020, no matter where he is by then (Twitter link). That means anyone who trades for Davis won’t be assured of a long-term extension.

He has been sidelined with a fractured left index finger, but Davis intends to resume playing regardless of what happens at the trade deadline (Twitter link). He has received medical clearance to return to action, but the Pelicans haven’t divulged their plans for Davis if there’s no trade on Thursday. He was held out of two games this week to avoid further injury.

Here’s a roundup of rumors heading into the trade deadline:

  • The Lakers are running out of hope that a Davis trade will be completed before the deadline, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Pelicans GM Dell Demps hasn’t responded to Magic Johnson’s latest offer, and it appears New Orleans is content to run out the clock. The Pelicans may never have been serious about dealing with L.A. and might have been trying to sabotage the Lakers as revenge for what they consider to be tampering, tweets Rachel Nichols, host of ESPN’s “The Jump.” “It’s not just possible, it’s what happened,” colleague Brian Windhorst said today in an appearance on the show.
  • The Mavericks will have buyout talks with newly acquired Zach Randolph, Wojnarowski tweets. The 37-year-old hasn’t played yet this season, but he may be able to help a contender.
  • The Timberwolves continue to look for someone to take Jeff Teague and Gorgui Dieng, sources tell Chris Hine of The Star-Tribune. Teague has a $19MM player option for next season, while Dieng still has two seasons left on his four-year, $63MM deal. Minnesota hasn’t found much interest, but it may be willing to attach Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson, Anthony Tolliver or Luol Deng as incentives.
  • New Pelican Markieff Morris could become a buyout candidate once he’s fully recovered from a neck injury, tweets Tim Bontemps of ESPN.
  • The Thunder plan to watch what the Suns do with Wayne Ellington and may be interested if he hits the buyout market, according to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News (Twitter link).

Trade Rumors: Wolves, A. Davis, Irving, Conley, More

After making a big splash earlier in the season by sending Jimmy Butler to Philadelphia, the Timberwolves remain active on the trade market, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, who reports that GM Scott Layden is “canvassing the league for available deals.” Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News relays a similar sentiment, tweeting that Layden has been “much more communicative” than in past years.

According to Wolfson, players on expiring contracts are available, as are Jeff Teague and Gorgui Dieng. However, as of Tuesday, there was “zero sense” that anything was close to getting done. Meanwhile, sources tell Krawczynski that multiple teams checked in last month on Andrew Wiggins to see if the Timberwolves might be willing to move him for “pennies on the dollar.” Those inquires qualified more as due diligence though, and didn’t really go anywhere, per Krawczynski.

Here are several more trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • The Pelicans still have yet to respond to the Lakers‘ most recent trade offer for Anthony Davis, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). L.A. reportedly pulled out of talks on Tuesday after making a big offer on Monday night, though it appears the club would be ready to re-engage if New Orleans makes a counter-offer.
  • While Kyrie Irving‘s comments on his upcoming free agency last week had some league observers wondering if the Celtics would consider moving him at the trade deadline, the team – unsurprisingly – has no intention to do so, writes Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. “Boston’s not taking calls on Kyrie,” one general manager said. “That was made pretty clear.”
  • The Grizzlies are believed to be seeking multiple first-round picks in any package for Mike Conley, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times. According to Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune, the Jazz’s final offer to Memphis was a first-round pick, a second-round pick, and expiring contracts (likely Ricky Rubio and Derrick Favors). The Grizzlies asked for Dante Exum, but were told no, per Jones (Twitter link via John Martin of 92.9 ESPN).
  • A source tells Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times that the Bulls have received “a handful” of calls about Jabari Parker within the last week. Parker is a candidate to be traded, or to be bought out if Chicago can’t find a suitable deal.
  • According to Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link), the Hawks have started to receive more calls on veteran trade candidates Kent Bazemore, Dewayne Dedmon, and Jeremy Lin. Smith adds (via Twitter) that Knicks forward Noah Vonleh is another trade candidate to watch, as he has generated multiple inquiries.

Latest On Tom Thibodeau, Wolves

Contrary to a report that emerged last night in the wake of Tom Thibodeau’s firing in Minnesota, former Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg is not an “immediate candidate” to become the team’s next coach or president, a source tells Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

Interim coach Ryan Saunders will be given an opportunity to earn the job on a permanent basis, Krawczynski adds, and he has strong support from his players, who respect his work ethic and welcome his approachable nature as a change from Thibodeau. The organization will consider hiring an assistant who has experience as a head coach to help Saunders with the challenges of his new position.

GM Scott Layden was retained last night and will likely remain in place for the rest of the season, but he may need the team to make the playoffs to keep his job beyond that.

While the Wolves have a disappointing 19-21 record, the decision to part with Thibodeau was based on business as much as basketball, Krawczynski writes. The coach had become unpopular with fans, who routinely booed him every time his name was announced in pre-game introductions. Even worse, they were staying away, as Minnesota has dropped to 29th in home attendance after ranking 21st last season. The organization didn’t want to keep an alienating presence in place with a season ticket drive looming.

It’s no secret that owner Glen Taylor was unhappy with Thibodeau and Layden over how they handled the situation with Jimmy Butler before he was traded to the Sixers. Taylor commented several times that he believed both men were dragging their feet on Butler’s trade request and that they let the volatile star hijack the team during training camp and the early season.

Thibodeau has long had a reputation of giving heavy minutes to his starters, and several players complained about poor communication over their roles. Krawczynski reports that Gorgui Dieng, who has fallen out of the rotation after signing a huge contract, was “openly seething” in the locker room after Friday’s game. Tyus Jones, Anthony Tolliver and Jeff Teague have also expressed frustration over their status on the team.

As one of the few remaining coach/executives left in the league, Thibodeau’s standing was also harmed by several personnel decisions that didn’t work out. He was the driving force behind the decision to send Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and a draft pick that turned out to be Lauri Markkanen to the Bulls to acquire Butler. He also convinced Taylor to part with Ricky Rubio in exchange for Teague. And of course, he was responsible for bringing Taj Gibson, Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, his former players in Chicago, to Minnesota to form the “Timber-Bulls.”

Taylor was in Florida last night as Layden and CEO Ethan Casson delivered the news to Thibodeau. Taylor’s only comment came in an official statement from the organization, saying, “These decisions are never easy to make, but we felt them necessary to move our organization forward.”