Timberwolves Rumors

Wolves Contacted Calvin Booth About Front Office Job

  • In addition to reaching out to Clippers GM Michael Winger and Rockets executive VP of basketball operations Gersson Rosas, the Timberwolves also contacted Nuggets assistant GM Calvin Booth about their president of basketball operations job, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Krawczynski takes a closer look at those candidates, observing that the initial list should reassure Wolves fans that owner Glen Taylor won’t just “revert to his buddies” during the search process.

Poll: Most Appealing NBA Front Office Opening

On Tuesday, we asked which NBA head coaching vacancy looks like the most appealing, and so far, the Lakers are the pick. Despite all the drama in Los Angeles, the Lakers’ basketball situation still appears to be more favorable than that of the Grizzlies or Cavaliers.

The Lakers are also one of four teams with an opening at the top of their front office. In the wake of Magic Johnson‘s resignation, general manager Rob Pelinka is running the show in L.A., but there’s an expectation that the team will eventually hire someone to join him at the top of that hierarchy. It remains to be seen whether that means hiring a new president of basketball operations or perhaps promoting Pelinka and hiring someone underneath him.

Either way, a high-ranking job in the Lakers’ front office would be an intriguing one. Despite the team’s struggles in 2018/19, L.A. still has one of the NBA’s all-time greatest players (LeBron James) under contract for at least two more seasons and has the cap flexibility to pursue another star this summer. Some of the Lakers’ young players, such as Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, saw their value dip a little in recent months for health-related reasons, but there’s still a solid core of young players on the roster who could be dangled in trade talks or who could be contributors on the Lakers’ next playoff team.

The Grizzlies are another team in the market for a high-ranking basketball executive, though as in the case of the Lakers, it’s not clear exactly what that exec’s role would be. After demoting Chris Wallace, the Grizzlies announced that president of business operations Jason Wexler would oversee basketball operations too, with Zach Kleiman elevated to executive VP of basketball operations.

Neither Wexler nor Kleiman – who has a law background – is a true basketball executive, however. Presumably, the club will target a candidate with more of a background in player evaluation, scouting, and personnel decisions to join them in a key front office role. And that role could be an interesting one — Jaren Jackson looks like a keeper, and Mike Conley is a borderline All-Star who could be retained or traded. Owing a first-round pick to the Celtics is a nuisance, but once that pick is conveyed, Memphis would be in position to launch a full-fledged rebuild, allowing a new exec to help put his stamp on the team.

The Wizards‘ and Timberwolves‘ searches for new additions to their respective front offices appear more straightforward. Washington is seeking a replacement for Ernie Grunfeld, the team’s top decision-maker for years, and Minnesota publicly announced that it’s on the lookout for a new president of basketball operations.

In some ways, the Wizards’ and Timberwolves’ situations are similar. Each team has one overpriced long-term contract that may be a cap burden going forward – John Wall in Washington and Andrew Wiggins in Minnesota – but the presence of an All-Star (Karl-Anthony Towns and Bradley Beal) at least gives each franchise some hope.

Having players like Robert Covington, Dario Saric, and Josh Okogie locked up in Minnesota may appeal to front office candidates. Of course, in D.C., only Wall, Beal, and Troy Brown are under contract beyond the 2019/20 season, which might be intriguing to a candidate looking for a bit more of a clean slate. Plus, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis probably has a better league-wide reputation than Glen Taylor, who has been known to get involved in the Wolves’ basketball decisions.

What do you think? Assuming the roles are relatively similar, and taking into account rosters, assets, and ownership situations, which of these four front office positions looks the most appealing to you?

Vote below in our poll, then head to the comment section to weigh in!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Wolves Expected To Meet With Clippers’ Winger, Rockets’ Rosas

2:59pm: The Timberwolves have also requested and been granted permission to speak to Rockets VP Gersson Rosas, a source tells Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Rosas has also been linked to the Pelicans and Wizards this spring.

2:30pm: The Timberwolves have received permission to speak to Clippers general manager Michael Winger about a potential president of basketball operations role in Minnesota, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

It’s not clear when the meeting will take place, but Wolves owner Glen Taylor has targeted a short list of potential candidates to become the club’s head of basketball operations, and Winger appears to be emerging as one of the favorites in that group, as Wojnarowski tweets.

Taylor and the Wolves announced last Wednesday at the end of the regular season that they were formally launching a search for a new president of basketball operations. While general manager Scott Layden has been running the club’s front office for most of the season and may ultimately be retained, Minnesota wants to bring in someone who can oversee the team’s basketball operations, filling Tom Thibodeau‘s old role.

Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic reported last week that the Wolves are targeting a strong communicator who places high value on the draft and player development.

For Winger, the Timberwolves’ position would represent a promotion, since he currently serves under head of basketball operations Lawrence Frank in Los Angeles. Before he was hired by the Clippers as their general manager in 2017, Winger worked in the Thunder’s front office as an assistant GM under Sam Presti.

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.

Kings Fire Head Coach Dave Joerger

12:27pm: The Kings have now fired Joerger, officially announcing the decision in a press release.

“After evaluating the season, I determined that we need to move in a different direction in order to take us to the next level,” Divac said in a statement. “On behalf of the entire Kings organization, I want to thank Dave for his contributions to our team and I wish him all the best.”

11:08am: Kings general manager Vlade Divac is having a face-to-face meeting with head coach Dave Joerger today and intends to fire Joerger during that sitdown, league sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

[RELATED: Kings sign Vlade Divac to contract extension]

It’s a somewhat surprising move, given the success Joerger had with the young Kings this season. The club was in playoff contention through the All-Star break and finished with 39 wins, the most victories a Sacramento team has had since the 2005/06 season. Under Joerger, guards De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield enjoyed breakout seasons, with young players like Bogdan Bogdanovic, Harry Giles, and Marvin Bagley also showing promise.

However, the Kings slumped at the end of the season, going 9-17 down the stretch and losing some games that they shouldn’t have. Additionally, Joerger reportedly had some tension with the team’s front office throughout the year related to minutes for young players, and notably clashed with assistant GM Brandon Williams. An earlier report from Sam Amick of The Athletic (Twitter link) indicated that Williams won’t be back next season either.

In three total seasons with the Kings, Joerger posted a 98-148 (.398) record, with no playoff appearances. He previously coached the Grizzlies for three years, posting a 147-99 (.598) regular-season mark in Memphis, with a 9-13 record in four playoff series. Joerger had one year remaining on his contract with the Kings.

Wojnarowski suggests (via Twitter) that Divac, with a new contract extension in hand, is “consolidating power” around himself in the Kings’ front office. He’ll presumably take the lead in picking Joerger’s replacement.

According to Marc Stein of The New York Times (via Twitter), Luke Walton would be a top candidate for Sacramento if the Lakers let him go, though Walton isn’t necessarily a lock to be replaced in L.A. now that Magic Johnson has stepped down. ESPN’s Zach Lowe (via Twitter) also identifies Spurs assistant Ettore Messina as a name to watch in Sacramento, while Amick (via Twitter) adds Sixers assistant Monty Williams to the list of potential candidates for the Kings.

As for Joerger, the Minnesota native has frequently been linked to the Timberwolves’ head coaching job, as Lowe notes (via Twitter). However, there’s a belief that Ryan Saunders might hang onto his position with the Wolves — that situation is in flux, as Minnesota seeks a new president of basketball operations.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Wolves Launch Search For President Of Basketball Operations

The Timberwolves have officially launched their search for a new president of basketball operations to replace Tom Thibodeau, who was dismissed during the season, the team announced today in a press release. Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic first reported late on Tuesday night that Minnesota would seek a president of basketball ops.

“In the absence of Tom, I want to thank all who picked up his responsibilities this past year,” Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said in a statement, citing the work done by general manager Scott Layden and head coach Ryan Saunders. “… They worked through a season with many injuries requiring many challenges in our player lineup. We are incredibly grateful to them for all of their hard work and commitment to the franchise.

“The future of the Minnesota Timberwolves continues to be very bright,” Taylor continued. “It’s more important than ever that we find a leader who can build a successful team in today’s fast-paced NBA. We have the cornerstones of a very talented team and need to assemble the final pieces that will elevate us into a playoff team and one that can compete for championships.”

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who initially reported on Tuesday that the Timberwolves were finalizing plans to retain Layden and Saunders, has amended his report, clarifying that Taylor would prefer to keep Layden and Saunders in the mix as part of a “revised organizational structure.”

According to Wojnarowski, the idea would be to reward Saunders with a multiyear extension – likely a three-year deal with a team option in the final season – and to keep Layden as the general manager, with a new president of basketball operations working above him. It remains to be seen if the Wolves will target candidates willing to work within that structure, or if the team will ultimately let its new hire make the call on Layden’s and Saunders’ futures.

Sources tell Krawczynski that Taylor ultimately elected to open up a search for an executive about Layden in part because of the GM’s “messy handling” of Jimmy Butler‘s trade request and his inability to make a trade at February’s deadline. Krawczynski adds that the Wolves will be aggressive in their search, targeting a strong communicator who places high value on the draft and player development. The team won’t use a search firm during the process.

Former NBA players Chauncey Billups and Calvin Booth have been cited as potential targets of interest for Minnesota, though it’s not clear if the club would feel comfortable elevating either one to a president of basketball operations role. Booth currently works in the Nuggets’ front office, while Billups has interviewed for high-level NBA management jobs in Cleveland and Atlanta in recent years.

The Wolves also plan to look outside of Taylor’s “sphere” for candidates, writes Krawczynski.

Latest On Timberwolves’ Front Office

11:57pm: Following up on Wojnarowski’s report, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic tweets that the Timberwolves will seek out a permanent president of basketball operations, with the search beginning in earnest within the next few days. No final decisions have been made on Layden and Saunders, according to Krawczynski, who says the next president of basketball operations will help make that call.

Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News tweets that Krawczynski is “spot on.”

In his full story at ESPN.com, Wojnarowski writes that the Wolves had been surveying the marketplace for potential executives but never made contact. Woj also reports that Saunders will likely receive a three-year contract with a team option on the final season.

11:19pm: After the Timberwolves dismissed head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau earlier this season, Ryan Saunders assumed coaching duties, while GM Scott Layden became the club’s head of basketball operations. Now, Saunders and Layden are poised to keep those jobs going forward.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter), the Timberwolves are finalizing plans to retain Layden and Saunders.

While Saunders has a modest 17-24 record since taking over as the Wolves’ head coach, the team has liked the job that Flip Saunders‘ son has done managing minutes and developing the organization’s young players.

Karl-Anthony Towns, in particular, has hit his stride since the coaching change, averaging 26.8 PPG, 12.4 RPG, and 3.7 APG on .541/.422/.838 in his 37 games under Saunders. Of course, those numbers can be partially attributed to Jimmy Butler‘s departure.

A March report had suggested that Saunders would likely be retained, but the decision to bring back Layden is a little more surprising. Layden had worked alongside Thibodeau in Minnesota’s front office for the last few years, and there was a sense that the Wolves might explore the market for a new head of basketball operations — Chauncey Billups and Calvin Booth were among the potential candidates linked to the club.

Wolves Sign Mitch Creek For Remainder Of Season

3:11pm: The Timberwolves have officially re-signed Creek, per NBA.com’s transactions log. The team continues to carry 16 players via the league’s hardship provision.

10:32am: Minnesota will sign Mitch Creek for the remainder of the season, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Creek signed a 10-day deal with the team during the last week in March, though he has not yet played in a game for the Timberwolves. The shooting guard had two 10-day contracts earlier this season with the Nets, seeing action in four games.

The Wolves have two games remaining this season. They take on the Raptors tonight before clashing with the Nuggets on Wednesday.

Central Notes: Rose, Griffin, Young, Bulls

Derrick Rose hasn’t ruled out a reunion with the Bulls, his agent said in a radio interview on Monday. B.J. Armstrong said Rose is “open” to signing with the Bulls as an unrestricted free agent. He spent the first seven years of his career in Chicago after being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft. Armstrong commented on Rose’s interest in the Bulls during an interview with 670 The Score which was relayed by the Sporting News.

“We’ll see what the Bulls have,” Armstrong said. “There’s no secret, there’s no doubt that in his heart, Chicago will always be there. We’ll see. I don’t know what the Bulls are going to do at this particular time. … If it presented itself, we’d be open to that conversation.”

Rose was enjoying a bounce-back season with the Timberwolves, averaging 18.0 PPG and 4.3 APG, before it was cut short due to injury. The former Bulls MVP had bone chips removed from his right elbow last month.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pistons All-Star forward Blake Griffin probably would be sitting out due to a left knee injury if they weren’t desperately trying to make the playoffs, coach Dwane Casey admits. The Pistons have lost four straight and need to win their last two games to ensure they’ll make the postseason for the second time in a decade. Griffin missed three games because of the sore knee but has played the last two, including a poor-shooting 16-point outing against Charlotte on Sunday. “We need him and we appreciate his effort, what he’s giving to us right now,” Casey said.
  • Pacers power forward Thaddeus Young feels he can keep going for several more years, Scott Agness of The Athletic reports. Young will be participating in the playoffs for the eighth time in 12 seasons. “It doesn’t look like I’m slowing down anytime soon. The good thing for me is I’m very, very healthy. I’m about 98 percent right now,” he said. “I’m just very happy that I’m able to play and able to continue to play. But I wouldn’t put a cap on what I’m going to play or what I’m trying to play. I have plenty left in the tank.” Young will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and will likely seek a multi-year deal.
  • Coach Jim Boylen said the Bulls could use more versatile defenders to compete in the division but he’s unsure if they should pursue a big-ticket free agent and divide up their cap space, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. “How we spend the money and how it’s split up … I mean do we hope to get two good players for that chunk of money and add depth, improve our bench maybe or do we get one guy? It really depends on who shakes out [in free agency], who is available, and what happens to the rest of the teams in the league,’’ Boylen said.

Wolves Have Replacements In Mind For Layden

  • The Timberwolves will decide the fate of GM Scott Layden after the season ends, with ESPN broadcaster Chauncey Billups and Nuggets assistant GM Calvin Booth among the top candidates if Minnesota decides to make a change, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times. Wolves owner Glen Taylor was reportedly unhappy with Layden and former coach/executive Tom Thibodeau over the way they handled Jimmy Butler‘s trade request. Thibodeau was dismissed in early January.
  • The Timberwolves will decide the fate of GM Scott Layden after the season ends, with ESPN broadcaster Chauncey Billups and Nuggets assistant GM Calvin Booth among the top candidates if Minnesota decides to make a change, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times. Wolves owner Glen Taylor was reportedly unhappy with Layden and former coach/executive Tom Thibodeau over the way they handled Jimmy Butler‘s trade request. Thibodeau was dismissed in early January.
  • A $9.2MM non-taxpayer mid-level exception will provide the Timberwolves with their best chance to improve this summer, writes Danny Leroux of The Athletic. All five starters will be under contract if Jeff Teague opts in to his $19MM salary, so Minnesota can use the MLE to try to fortify its reserves. Leroux suggests Marcus Morris, Tyreke Evans, Jeremy Lamb, Reggie Bullock, Wayne Ellington and Terrence Ross as possible targets.