Minnesota Timberwolves

Timberwolves To Pursue Derrick Rose

The Timberwolves plan to target Knicks point guard Derrick Rose in free agency, reports Ian Begley of ESPN.com.

Their interest in the 28-year-old point guard stems from his connection with coach/executive Tom Thibodeau, who coached Rose for five years in Chicago, including his MVP season in 2010/11. The teams had trade talks prior to the deadline involving Rose and Ricky Rubio, although nothing was worked out. Minnesota has roughly $22MM in cap space to spend this summer.

Entering free agency for the first time in his career, Rose should be completely recovered from a meniscus tear in his left knee that ended his season in early April. It’s the latest in a string of injuries that have plagued him over the past six years, although he was able to play 66 and 64 games the past two seasons.

Rose was part of a blockbuster trade that sent him from Chicago to New York last summer, but his first season in New York was seen as a disappointment. He averaged 18 points, 4.4 assists and 3.8 rebounds, but the Knicks won just 31 games, there were persistent questions about his defense and he briefly left the team without explanation in January.

Rose has said he is willing to stay in New York, but there have been conflicting reports about the team’s interest in keeping him.

“He enjoyed playing here even with the losses, which of course surprises us because he’s been on some very successful teams,” said Knicks president Phil Jackson. “But he wants to redeem himself as a player. Which I like that attitude. I like who Derrick represents as himself. He’s very direct about taking on a big challenge.”

Begley adds that San Antonio may also be a potential landing spot for Rose, depending what happens with other free agent point guards.

Rose told reporters this week that winning, not money, will be the priority in selecting his next team.

Timberwolves Will Get D-League Franchise

  • The Iowa Energy, an NBA D-League team, have scheduled a press conference for next Tuesday to announce itself as the official NBADL affiliate of the Timberwolves, according to D-League Digest (link via Twitter).

Knicks Target Tucker, Cunningham, Simmons

The Knicks are putting together their free agent shopping list with an eye toward players who can contribute on offense and defense, writes Ian Begley of ESPN.com.

One of those players is Raptors small forward P.J. Tucker, who previously played for coach Jeff Hornacek in Phoenix. Hornacek describes Tucker as an intense defender and a leader in the locker room. He could also give the Knicks a 3-point threat, shooting 35.7 from long distance this season, including 40% after a midseason trade to Toronto.

Another target is Pelicans small forward Dante Cunningham, who was the top 3-point shooter in New Orleans this year at 39.2%. Cunningham is also a solid defender and helped the Pels to a 13-8 record when he played at least 28 minutes per game.

Spurs forward Jonathon Simmons has fans in the Knicks organization, but he will be in demand around the league. Simmons is a restricted free agent, so San Antonio can match any offer he receives.

New York will enter free agency with about $19MM to spend, although that number could change significantly if efforts to trade Carmelo Anthony are successful. In addition to adding talent this summer, the Knicks are hoping to retain shooting guard Justin Holiday, who played all 82 games and averaged 7.7 points per night in his first year with the team.

The Knicks may also reopen trade talks for Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio, Begley adds. New York and Minnesota discussed a deal involving Rubio at the trade deadline, and Knicks officials might still be interested.

New York will be looking for more players in the mold of Courtney Lee, who was their lone success among last summer’s major moves. Lee, who is signed for three more seasons, believes the Knicks worked out many of their problems late in the season and are headed in the right direction. He also defended center Joakim Noah, who became a lightning rod for criticism after signing a four-year, $72MM contract.

“Joakim had a lot of injuries that people weren’t aware of during the season,” Lee said. “I know how tough he is and how prideful he is and I’m looking forward to him coming back 100 percent healthy and doing what he does for us on the court. I know he will come back strong and help lead for us.”

2017 Offseason Salary Cap Digest: Minnesota Timberwolves

A popular sleeper pick to earn a playoff spot in the West heading into the 2016/17 season, the Timberwolves got off to a terrible start and never recovered, proving that they weren’t quite ready to make that leap. Nonetheless, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins continue to improve, and Tom Thibodeau now has a year under his belt with his new team. With another top-seven pick on the way and some cap space available, the Wolves are in position to continue improving their roster and perhaps to get back to the postseason in 2017/18.

Here’s where things currently stand for the Timberwolves financially, as we continue our Offseason Salary Cap Digest series for 2017:

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

  • None

Team Options

  • None

Non-Guaranteed Salary

Restricted Free Agents

  • Shabazz Muhammad ($4,187,598 qualifying offer / $7,615,748 cap hold)
  • Total: $7,615,748

Cap Holds

Projected Salary Cap: $101,000,000

Maximum Cap Room: $32,037,943

  • Although Pekovic remains on the Timberwolves’ books, medical retirement appears likely for him. If that becomes official, the Wolves could remove Pekovic’s charge from their cap, leaving the team with nine guaranteed salaries, a cap hold for a first-round pick, and two cap hits for empty roster spots, totaling $68,962,057. That would leave enough room to offer a maximum-salary contract to any free agent with less than 10 years of NBA experience.

Footnotes:

  1. Hill’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after June 30.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders and The Vertical was used in the creation of this post.

Wolves Notes: Casspi, Tucker, No. 7 Pick

It was an unusual season for veteran forward Omri Casspi, who saw his role significantly reduced by new Kings head coach Dave Joerger before he was packaged with DeMarcus Cousins in a February trade to New Orleans. Dubbed an important part of that trade for the Pelicans, Casspi almost immediately broke his thumb, forcing New Orleans to waive him. Casspi later signed with the Timberwolves when he got healthy, finishing the 2016/17 campaign by appearing in 13 games for Minnesota.

Casspi didn’t play much for the Wolves, and averaged just 3.5 PPG when he saw the court, but Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link) doesn’t rule out the possibility of the 28-year-old re-signing with the club. Still, Wolfson expects the Wolves to prioritize other free agents.

Here’s more out of Minnesota, including an additional note on Casspi:

  • Following up on Casspi, Wolfson reports (via Twitter) that the former first-round pick has left agent Dan Fegan. Fegan was fired and sued by his former agency earlier this year, so it’s not a huge surprise that Casspi would be looking for new representation as he enters free agency.
  • Discussing the Timberwolves on 1500 ESPN’s The Scoop podcast, Wolfson said this week that he has heard Minnesota is “very much” on P.J. Tucker‘s radar (hat tip to HoopsHype). Tucker will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and would be a nice fit for the Wolves, providing strong defense and a decent outside shot.
  • An NBA source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post that Timberwolves head coach and president Tom Thibodeau has considered the possibility of trading down from No. 7. Berman suggests that the Wolves are leaning toward drafting a wing – rather than a big – if they stay where they are, though many mock drafts have linked Minnesota to power forward Jonathan Isaac.

Timberwolves’ Ricky Rubio Switches Agents

Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio has switched agents and will now be represented by Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports, according to Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press (via Twitter). Rubio was previously represented by longtime NBA agent Dan Fegan.

Rubio, 26, enjoyed arguably his best season ever during the 2016/17 campaign, posting career-highs in PPG (11.1), APG (9.1), and field goal percentage (40.2 percent) through 75 games. The Spaniard, however, has been the subject of trade rumors the past several seasons, so a change in representation could be a preemptive move in case Minnesota finally pulls the trigger on a trade.

The Knicks reportedly discussed a Derrick Rose-for-Rubio swap prior to this year’s trade deadline, but a deal never materialized. Rubio still has two years and over $29MM left on his deal and a head coach in Tom Thibodeau who has indicated that 2016 draft pick Kris Dunn is the team’s future point guard.

As Krawczynski notes, Rubio’s new agent Schwartz is one of the premier reps in the game with an extensive history working with several current and former Timberwolves, including Al Jefferson, Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic and Cole Aldrich. While there is no deal in place, Schwartz’s familiarity with the team and Rubio’s uncertain status will make him a key player to watch this offseason.

2017 NBA Draft Lottery Results

The Celtics will pick first overall in the 2017 NBA draft, having won Tuesday night’s lottery one night after they advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals. The C’s, who exercised their rights to swap with the Nets, entered the lottery with the best odds (25.0%) to land that No. 1 overall pick.

The Lakers were the other big winners in the lottery, moving up to No. 2, ensuring that they’ll keep both this year’s pick and 2019’s first-rounder. Had Los Angeles’ pick fallen outside of the top three, it would have been sent to the Sixers, and the Lakers would’ve owed their unprotected 2019 first-rounder to Orlando. Instead, the Lakers will keep this year’s pick and 2019’s, and will send Philadelphia their unprotected 2018 first-round selection.

The Kings also moved up into the top three, but the Sixers will acquire that pick, exercising their right to swap with Sacramento. The Kings will pick at No. 5, which is where Philadelphia would have selected. Sacramento will also land the Pelicans’ selection at No. 10. That New Orleans selection was acquired by the Kings in February’s DeMarcus Cousins trade and was top-three protected.

The Suns are the night’s biggest losers, having moved from No. 2 in the lottery standings down to No. 4 overall. The Magic, Timberwolves, and Knicks each moved down one spot as well.

Here’s the full lottery order for the 2017 NBA draft:

  1. Boston Celtics (via Nets)
  2. Los Angeles Lakers
  3. Philadelphia 76ers (swapped with Kings)
  4. Phoenix Suns
  5. Sacramento Kings (swapped with Sixers)
  6. Orlando Magic
  7. Minnesota Timberwolves
  8. New York Knicks
  9. Dallas Mavericks
  10. Sacramento Kings (via Pelicans)
  11. Charlotte Hornets
  12. Detroit Pistons
  13. Denver Nuggets
  14. Miami Heat

Tonight’s lottery results are fascinating on a number of levels, but particularly so for two of the NBA’s most-storied franchises, the Celtics and Lakers. Boston is in position to either pick a player like point guard Markelle Fultz, considered by draft experts to be a future star, or to dangle that No. 1 overall pick in a trade for an established veteran star next month. The Celtics are coming off a season in which they earned the top seed in the East, and they also own the Nets’ unprotected first-round pick in 2018, so the franchise is extremely well-positioned for the future.

As for the Lakers, they’ll breathe a sigh of relief after hanging onto their 2017 first-rounder, and they’re in position to create a union that has been the subject of much speculation in recent weeks. UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball is widely viewed as the second-best prospect in this year’s draft, and he and his father LaVar have made no secret of the fact that Lonzo wants to play for the Lakers. Tonight’s lottery results make that a very real possibility.

The Kings are another winner tonight, having moved up from No. 8 to No. 5 and having also held onto the Pelicans’ pick at No. 10. Sacramento will be in a great position to pick two cornerstone pieces to kickstart the club’s rebuilding process.

Wolves Work Out Frazier, Peak, Blakeney

  • Georgia guard J.J. Frazier has workouts lined up with the Bucks, Kings, and Lakers after getting a look from the Timberwolves today, tweets Adam Zagoria. L.J. Peak and Antonio Blakeney are among the prospects joining Frazier at Minnesota’s group workout today, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News.

NBA Confirms Lottery Reps, Will Announce All-NBA Teams On Thursday

The NBA confirmed each team’s representatives today for this year’s draft lottery, which will take place on Tuesday night. As confirmed by the league (via Twitter), here are this year’s reps for lottery teams:

  1. Boston Celtics: Wyc Grousbeck (owner)
  2. Phoenix Suns: Devin Booker
  3. Los Angeles Lakers: Magic Johnson (president of basketball operations)
  4. Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid
  5. Orlando Magic: Frank Vogel (head coach)
  6. Minnesota Timberwolves: Andrew Wiggins
  7. New York Knicks: Walt Frazier (MSG Network broadcaster)
  8. Sacramento Kings: Dave Joerger (head coach)
  9. Dallas Mavericks: Michael Finley (assistant VP of basketball operations)
  10. New Orleans Pelicans: Alvin Gentry (head coach)
  11. Charlotte Hornets: Rich Cho (GM)
  12. Detroit Pistons: Jeff Bower (GM)
  13. Denver Nuggets: Gary Harris
  14. Miami Heat: Alonzo Mourning (VP of player programs)

Additionally, the NBA also announced that it will reveal several award winners and award finalists later this week. The league will unveil its three All-NBA teams on Thursday. Then, prior to the Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday, the NBA will name its three finalists for each major award: MVP, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, Most Improved Player, and Coach of the Year.

Those individual awards won’t be officially announced until June 26, during the NBA’s inaugural awards broadcast on TNT. However, the All-NBA announcement on Thursday will be an intriguing one. A team’s ability to offer a player a more lucrative Designated Veteran Extension hinges on whether or not he earns an All-NBA nod. So teams like the Pacers and Jazz will be watching very closely to see if Paul George and Gordon Hayward earn All-NBA spots and become eligible for those super-max extensions.

The Story of How The Timberwolves Almost Drafted Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas has gone from last selection in the 2011 NBA Draft to one of the league’s top budding superstars with the Celtics. As he prepares for a Game 7 showdown against the Wizards, stories about Thomas’ unlikely path to stardom continue to circulate and the Timberwolves are the latest team to be connected with the 5’9″ point guard.

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