Timberwolves Rumors

Young Players Could Benefit If Wolves Play Again This Season

The Timberwolves could reap some benefits if they get a chance to play again this season, as Sid Hartman of the Minneapolis Star Tribune details. The team added several new players during the second half of the season, and every game and practice they get together will foster chemistry. Young players such as 2019 first-round draft pick Jarrett Culver and 2018 first-rounder Josh Okogie need as much playing time as they can get to continue their development, Hartman adds.

We have more Western Conference news:

  • Rockets superstar James Harden says once the league deems it safe to resume competition, he’s primed for action, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports. “If the league and public officials are confident that a single-site setup is safe for all players, staff and fans, then I’m ready to go,” he said. “I want to get back out there I just want to make sure we’re in a good position to so.”
  • Can Richaun Holmes and Marvin Bagley III co-exist in the Kings’ frontcourt? James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area explores the pros and cons of playing the two big men together. The biggest benefit, according to Ham, is that it would give the Kings one of the most athletic frontcourts in the league. They’re both high-motor players who can rebound, block shots and contribute offensively.
  • Anthony Slater of The Athletic examines the implications if the NBA leaves the Warriors out of its plans to resume the season. The biggest positive is that it would give the front office additional time to assess the financial landscape and direction they want to go before making any draft-night decisions.

Hine Examines Rosas' Performance, Wolves' Draft Plans, More

  • In his latest mailbag, Chris Hine of The Star Tribune examines the job Gersson Rosas has done as the Timberwolves‘ president of basketball operations and discusses the team’s draft plans, among other topics.

All NBA Teams Expected To Participate In COVID-19 Antibodies Study

The Timberwolves and the Mayo Clinic are spearheading a study on COVID-19 antibodies that is expected to include all 30 teams, according to Malika Andrews of ESPN, who says the study will likely be completed in June.

As Andrews explains, the study aims to determine what percentage of NBA players, coaches, executives, and other staffers have developed antibodies to the coronavirus. The results should provide doctors and researchers with more information on what the presence of antibodies means. The study should also help NBA teams better map the spread of COVID-19 throughout the league and potentially identify which people have a lower risk of contracting the virus.

According to Andrews and Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, the Mayo Clinic is using a finger-prick method for detecting antibodies and are hoping to establish that it’s just as effective and less invasive than the usual method of drawing blood from a vein.

“It would be hugely helpful because the fingerstick blood draw could be done at home and the sample could be mailed in for testing at a lab,” Dr. Priya Sampathkumar, a Mayo Clinic consultant, told O’Connor. “Vast numbers of people could be tested without any need to go to the hospital or a clinic to receive a blood draw.”

According to O’Connor, about 400 people from approximately half the NBA’s teams have participated in the study so far, with the rest of the clubs expected to join that list soon as practice facilities around the league continue to open — the blood draws have been taking place at those facilities. NBPA executive director Michele Roberts tells The Ringer that players are “fully on board” with providing samples for the study.

“Our players have embraced the opportunity to contribute to this important public health study that will help researchers better understand the prevalence of COVID-19, potentially improve care for patients, and promote long-term efforts to develop a vaccine and treatment for the virus,” she said.

Timberwolves To Reopen Practice Facility

The Timberwolves will reopen their practice facility for voluntary individual workouts on Thursday, May 21, the team announced today in a press release.

According to the announcement, the Wolves worked in conjunction with local government officials, infectious disease experts and public health authorities in making their decision.

On top of the strict restrictions put in place by the NBA for teams reopening their facilities, the Wolves will enact a few of their own rules. According to the club, only one player and one coach will be permitted on the court at a time, and player workouts will be limited to 45 minutes. Additionally, contact tracing will be administered upon entry to the building, per the Wolves.

The Timberwolves will become the 18th team known to have reopened its practice facility for individual workouts. The Bulls, Celtics, Hornets, Knicks, Mavericks, Nets, Pistons, Sixers, Spurs, Suns, Warriors, and Wizards are the 12 clubs that have yet to do so.

Culver Shows Flashes Of Promise In Uneven Rookie Season

Timberwolves rookie wing Jarrett Culver had an uneven first season in Minnesota, but flashed exciting athletic promise, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Trading up from the No. 11 pick to the No. 6 pick in the 2019 NBA draft to select Culver was the first big move Wolves president of basketball operations Gerson Rossas made in his new role.

Culver averaged 9.2 PPG and 3.4 RPG while connecting on 40.4% of his field goals and just 46.2% of his free throw attempts. He began to produce more robustly as the calendar turned to 2020. The Wolves sport a 19-45 record for the suspended 2019/20 season, which places them far from playoff contention at the No. 14 seed in the West.

D’Lo On Wolves: “Where I’m Supposed To Be”

Timberwolves point guard D’Angelo Russell, speaking to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic in an extensive interview, asserted that his latest landing spot, playing alongside best friend Karl-Anthony Towns in Minnesota, is “where I’m supposed to be.”

After being drafted by the Lakers with the No. 2 pick in 2015, Russell was shipped to the Nets in the summer of 2017. He evolved into an All-Star for Brooklyn in 2019, and was promptly moved in a four-year, $117MM maximum contract sign-and-trade with the Warriors that summer.

At the time of his overcrowding the Golden State backcourt, it was widely speculated that he was brought in to eventually be shipped out as a trade asset. In February 2020, that speculation bore fruit, as Russell, Jacob Evans and Omari Spellman were sent to Minnesota in exchange for Andrew Wiggins and two future draft picks.

The 6’4″ 24-year-old out of Ohio State reflected on his prolific NBA resume in an interesting piece.

“When I tell you about my career,” Russell tells Krawcyznski, “it’s like I’m in the water and I take a breath… then I see it and I go back in the water.”

Elsewhere in Russell’s interview with Krawcyznski, which is worth reading in full, Russell discusses all the stops on his five-year NBA journey to this point. Here are some highlights:

On his tumultuous tenure with the Lakers:

“I didn’t know how to be a professional and the guidance wasn’t there also… I don’t blame anybody. I blame myself. It was really a blur to me, just in the sense that the things that I’ve been through ever since then.”

On then-Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson’s role in Russell’s All-Star development:

“I’m not going to give (all the credit) to Kenny… I still don’t think he knew what he had, honestly. I don’t think he knew what I was capable of in the fourth quarter.”

On learning from Golden State’s championship-level All-Stars:

“My whole thing was I’m gonna just learn from these guys… Even if I don’t get to play with them (very long), I’m going to pick their brain as much as I can.”

On savoring his new leadership role in Minnesota:

“I’ve been enjoying it knowing I could be here for the rest of my career if I take advantage of it.”

Does Juan Herangomez Eliminate The Need For A Power Forward

  • The Timberwolves have resources available to upgrade at power forward, but they may decide they don’t need to now that they have Juan Hernangomez, suggests Chris Hine of The Star-Tribune. Minnesota acquired Hernangomez in a four-team deal in February and he was productive in 14 games, improving his 3-point shooting to 42% after hitting 25% in Denver. Minnesota expects to have two first-round picks this year and could be in position to target Aaron Gordon if the Magic decide to shake up their roster.

2020/21 Salary Cap Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves

Hoops Rumors is looking ahead at the 2020/21 salary cap situations for all 30 NBA teams. Due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the NBA, it’s impossible to know yet where the cap for 2020/21 will land. Given the league’s lost revenue, we’re assuming for now that it will stay the same as the ’19/20 cap, but it’s entirely possible it will end up higher or lower than that.

The Timberwolves were one of the NBA’s worst teams in 2019/20, entering the league’s hiatus with a 19-45 record, ahead of only Golden State in the Western Conference. Still, a healthy Karl-Anthony Towns and a revamped roster should generate some optimism going forward.

Only two players – Towns and Josh Okogie – who were on the roster when Gersson Rosas assumed control of the front office a year ago are still in Minnesota, as Rosas hasn’t been shy to put his stamp on the franchise. While that trend could continue this offseason, the Wolves’ top priority may be re-signing a couple of their own free agents rather than pursuing another splashy addition.

Here’s where things stand for the Timberwolves financially in 2020/21, as we continue our Salary Cap Preview series:

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

Team Options

  • None

Non-Guaranteed Salary

Restricted Free Agents

Unrestricted Free Agents / Other Cap Holds

Offseason Cap Outlook

The Timberwolves are only carrying about $75MM in guaranteed salaries on their 2020/21 cap so far, but after accounting for James Johnson’s player option and a pair of first-round cap holds, they’re unlikely to have any cap room — especially if they intend to re-sign both Hernangomez and Beasley.

Depending on where their lottery pick lands and how high they have to go to retain those two restricted free agents, the Wolves could find themselves without much further flexibility. Minnesota won’t be a tax team, but could theoretically end up close enough to that line after signing Hernangomez and Beasley that using the full mid-level exception and bi-annual exception wouldn’t be viable.

Cap Exceptions Available

  • Mid-level exception: $9,258,000 5
  • Bi-annual exception: $3,623,000 5
  • Trade exception: $879,813 (expires 2/8/21)
  • Trade exception: $500,000 (expires 1/18/21)
  • Trade exception: $228,505 (expires 1/18/21)

Footnotes

  1. Vanderbilt’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after July 15.
  2. The cap hold for this pick will depend on where it ultimately falls in the lottery. Currently, the Timberwolves rank third in the lottery standings.
  3. This is a lottery protected pick from the Nets and could theoretically stay with Brooklyn if it moves to No. 14 or higher. However, the Timberwolves are extremely likely to receive it.
  4. The cap hold for Brooks remains on the Timberwolves’ books because he hasn’t been renounced after going unsigned since 2018. He can’t be used in a sign-and-trade deal.
  5. These are projected values. If team salary gets high enough, it’s possible the Timberwolves would instead be limited to the taxpayer mid-level exception ($5,718,000).

Note: Minimum-salary and rookie-scale cap holds are based on the salary cap and could increase or decrease depending on where the cap lands.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders and Early Bird Rights was used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Timberwolves Notes: Roster, Draft Picks, Saunders

It has been one year since Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas was hired by the team. In those 12 months, Rosas has overhauled the roster to the point that only two players who were under contract when he joined the franchise – Karl-Anthony Towns and Josh Okogie – are still with the Wolves today.

“Building an organization, building a foundation, the DNA and the values of who we’re going to be, I feel like we’ve done that in a very tangible way after year one,” Rosas said in a phone interview, per Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. “Roster-wise, our front office staff deserves a ton of credit because as we sit here, we’ve changed over 13 out of 15 roster spots. … That typically takes organizations two to three years. That we were able to do it by the trade deadline was quite an achievement for our staff.”

Many of Minnesota’s roster changes occurred at this year’s trade deadline. And the fact that the Wolves were able to acquire D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, and Juan Hernangomez at that point means that the club may not have to be as active in the offseason. As Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic writes, that could be a good thing, given the coronavirus-related uncertainty surrounding this year’s free agent period.

“We don’t have all of our pieces,” Rosas said. “But we have a large majority of our pieces in places where we can push development, philosophy and culture to a group of players that are going to represent this organization for hopefully a long period of time.”

Here’s more from Rosas on the Wolves:

  • Rosas didn’t dismiss the possibility that more roster changes could be on the way, even after the makeover that has taken place over the last year. “I yearn for the days when we can have continuity and we can keep the group together and we can grow together,” he said, according to Krawczynski. “That means we’re winning and we’re in contention and we’re in the last phase of a championship team. But until we get to that, there’s going to be change.”
  • Rosas, who spoke over the weekend about the likelihood of the Timberwolves having three of the top 33 selections in this year’s draft, didn’t rule out the idea of using one or more of those picks in trades, as Hine relays. “(It’s an) opportunity to continue to build out the roster, whether it’s young players you continue to add to our talent base, or using those picks in trades to acquire players that may be more ready to help us now,” Rosas said. “It puts us in a very strong position.”
  • Many new heads of basketball operations choose to put their own stamps on teams by bringing in a new head coach. However, as Krawczynski details, Rosas concluded last spring after a brief search that Ryan Saunders was the right man for the job. “I can’t say enough about Ryan in terms of not only his fit because of the philosophy, but his fit in terms of the type of person he is,” Rosas said. “We share a lot of values. We share a lot of perspectives and vision of how we want an organization to be run.”
  • Rosas also recently discussed Minnesota’s desire to re-sign both Beasley and Hernangomez in restricted free agency this offseason.

Wolves Plan To Re-Sign Beasley, Hernangomez

Re-signing Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez will be a priority for the Timberwolves during the offseason, president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas told Dane Moore of WCCO Radio in Minneapolis (Twitter link). Both players are headed for free agency after being acquired in a four-team deal in February.

“We want those guys to be Timberwolves for a long, long time,” Rosas said. “Hopefully, for the rest of their careers.”

After occupying a bench role in Denver, Beasley moved into the starting lineup when he arrived in Minnesota and was putting up the best numbers of his career before the hiatus. The 23-year-old guard averaged 20.7 PPG in 14 games with the Wolves while shooting career highs from the field (47.2%) and 3-point range (42.6%). The team will need to extend a $3.9MM qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent.

Hernangomez, 24, also became a starter upon moving to Minnesota and averaged 12.9 PPG and 7.3 RPG in 14 games. The fourth-year power forward will be an RFA if the Wolves make a $4.6MM qualifying offer.

In the same interview, Rosas indicated that Minnesota plans to be aggressive again this offseason, similar to last summer when the team traded up to get Jarrett Culver on draft night, then pursued D’Angelo Russell in free agency (Twitter link). Rosas points out that the Wolves could have three picks in the top 33, which he called potentially “the most draft capital” of anyone (Twitter link).