Timberwolves Rumors

Timberwolves To Sign Justin Jackson To 10-Day Deal

The Timberwolves have agreed to sign former first-round pick Justin Jackson to a 10-day contract, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

The 15th overall pick in 2017, Jackson has appeared in 278 total regular season games for the Kings, Mavericks, Thunder, Bucks, Celtics, and Suns across six seasons in the NBA. However, he has been out of the league for over a year, having been waived by Oklahoma City last February after being sent from Boston to OKC in exchange for Mike Muscala at the trade deadline.

Jackson has spent the 2023/24 season playing for the Texas Legends, Dallas’ G League affiliate. In 35 games for the Legends, he has averaged 19.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 3.1 assists in 34.6 minutes per contest, with an excellent shooting line of .480/.427/.868.

Minnesota had been carrying 13 players on standard contracts since this season’s February 8 trade deadline and had until Thursday to fill at least one of the two openings on its roster, as we outlined over the weekend. Unless the Wolves make a second addition to their roster, they’ll find themselves in a similar situation once Jackson’s 10-day contract expires, with up to two weeks to re-add a 14th man.

Jackson will earn $145,301 over the course of his 10-day deal, while the Wolves take on a cap hit of $116,075. The contract will cover the team’s next five games, starting on Friday vs. Milwaukee.

With Jackson’s 10-day deal on their books, the Wolves are now $1.4MM below the luxury tax line, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. That will be a consideration as Minnesota manages its roster during the season’s final weeks, since the organization won’t want to become a taxpayer.

Western Notes: Conley, Beal, Curry, Jokic

Timberwolves guard Mike Conley, who agreed to a contract extension on Monday, doesn’t meet the criteria for a full no-trade clause. As explained in our glossary, in order for a player to receive a no-trade clause, he must be signing a free agent contract and not an extension, must have at least eight years of NBA experience and must have spent at least four years with the team he is signing with. Conley isn’t signing a free agent contract and hasn’t spent four years in Minnesota, so he doesn’t qualify.

Suns guard Bradley Beal remains the only player in the NBA with a full no-trade clause.

Darren Wolfson of SKOR News and 5 Eyewitness News observes (Twitter link) that while Conley doesn’t qualify for a no-trade clause, he likely received assurances he wouldn’t be dealt, which possibly helped extension talks move forward.

Relatedly, The Star Tribune’s Chris Hine (Twitter link) hears that Conley’s exact extension number comes in at $20.75MM over two years. Conflicting reports Thursday indicated differing values, though it’s possible the deal includes incentives.

We have more notes from the Western Conference:

  • Beal underwent a procedure on his broken nose, according to Duane Rankin of Arizona Republic. He suffered the break in the second half of the Suns‘ January 16 game against Indiana. According to Rankin, Beal is on track to return Thursday in Phoenix’s first game out of the All-Star break against Dallas. Beal is averaging 18.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists in 30 games (all starts) with the Suns this season.
  • Warriors superstar Stephen Curry indicated he’s nowhere near retiring. “Eventually, your body will tell you when it’s time, but I don’t think I’m anywhere close to that,” Curry said (Twitter link via Yahoo Sports’ Ben Rohrbach). Curry, 35, is averaging 28.0 points per game while connecting on an absurd 42.1% of his 12.0 three-point attempts. Still, he told ESPN’s Malika Andrews (Twitter link) his 10th All-Star appearance made him contemplate the future. “This isn’t going to be around forever,” Curry said. “... I think the lesson I’ve learned is not to put any limitations on it, but approach every year like this could be the last year.
  • Even though he’s arguably the best basketball player in the world and was the only defending champion on either All-Star team, Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic is still OK with being overlooked when compared to his peers, writes The Denver Post’s Bennett Durando. “I’m not the face of the NBA,” Jokic said.

Mike Conley To Sign Two-Year Extension With Timberwolves

Veteran point guard Mike Conley has agreed to a two-year, $21MM extension with the Timberwolves, agents Steven Heumann and Jess Holtz tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Conley, 36, is earning $24.4MM this season in the final year of his current contract. He would have been Minnesota’s biggest free agent this summer, but inking a two-year extension will keep him off the open market.

Shams Charania of The Athletic hears Conley’s extension is worth $22MM (Twitter link), so we’ll have to wait for more details to learn his exact cap hits for 2024/25 and 2025/26. Either way, it sounds like he won’t hit free agency until 2026, when he’ll be 38.

Conley has started all 50 of his games for the Wolves in ’23/24 and has been a key leader for the No. 1 seed in the West. In 28.9 minutes per night, he has averaged 10.6 PPG, 6.4 APG, 2.9 RPG and 1.0 SPG. In his 17th NBA season, Conley is posting career-high marks from three-point range (44.2%) and the free throw line (92.3%).

According to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link), Minnesota’s front office has been trying to work out a deal for Conley for several weeks, and obviously the interest was mutual. His new extension is similar to the one Al Horford signed with Boston in December 2022 (two years, $19.5MM).

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks observes (Twitter links), the Wolves project to be over the second tax apron in ’24/25, with their entire starting lineup under contract. The other four starters are Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels, Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert.

Central Notes: Cavaliers, Strus, Lillard, Haliburton

With an established rotation already in place, the chances of the Cavaliers adding help in the buyout market are “incredibly low,” according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (subscription required). The recent returns from injury by Darius Garland and Evan Mobley have given the team a healthy roster, leaving no obvious role for a buyout player to fill. Sources tell Fedor that the front office is being honest with prospective additions about the shortage of available playing time.

Many of the top names on the market — such as Kyle Lowry, Spencer Dinwiddie and Delon Wright — have already committed to other teams. Fedor hears that Cleveland had interest in Danilo Gallinari, but the veteran forward chose Milwaukee, where he’ll have a better shot at regular minutes. Marcus Morris appears unlikely to land with the Cavs since he’s reportedly leaning toward the Timberwolves if the Spurs buy him out, according to former teammate Patrick Beverley (Twitter link).

Fedor says Cleveland would like to add one more shooter off its bench, which makes former Net Joe Harris and ex-Sixer Furkan Korkmaz intriguing names to watch. The Cavaliers have liked Korkmaz for a long time and made an effort to sign him in free agency in 2021, according to Fedor. He also mentions Davis Bertans and Seth Curry as options if they agree to buyouts with the Hornets and considers the PistonsEvan Fournier as a more remote possibility.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers are committed to Max Strus as a starter and are unlikely to shake up their starting five before the end of the season, Fedor adds in the same piece. The team pursued Strus last summer to provide improved shooting and floor spacing, and Fedor notes that he requires constant attention from opposing defenses, even though his shooting numbers have declined. Fedor also points out that coach J.B. Bickerstaff wants a longer look at his current starting lineup, which has been limited to 239 total minutes together because of injuries.
  • Bucks guard Damian Lillard doesn’t bring much strategy to the Three-Point Contest, which he won for the second straight year Saturday night, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic. “I didn’t prepare at all,” Lillard said. “I think that’s the key to it. I kept telling (teammate Malik Beasley) my first two times I did it, I was practicing, I had racks, I was trying to get ready for it and I just went out there and I didn’t win. And then last year, I never practiced. I never shot off a rack. I just showed up and won.”
  • Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton plans to keep trying for a three-point title after a close call on his home court, per Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. Haliburton was in a four-way deadlock for the best score after the first round, but he lost in a tie-breaker and failed to reach the finals. “I think I’m going to just keep coming back until they don’t allow me to, and eventually I’m going to win one,” he said.

Northwest Notes: Wolves, Jokic, Braun, George

The Timberwolves arrived at the All-Star break with the best record in the West, and they’re determined to finish the season as the conference’s top seed, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. It’s an accomplishment that Minnesota has achieved only once in its history — during the 2003/04 season — but it appears to be within reach. The Wolves are a game-and-a-half ahead of Oklahoma City, and their 20 road wins are the highest total in the league.

“It matters if you’re trying to project everything forward,” coach Chris Finch said. “You want every advantage possible. If you have the best record, then of course you get home court, but it’s too far out to really bank on anything.”

Being in contention for the top spot is a major accomplishment for Minnesota, which had to battle through the play-in tournament last season before being ousted in five games in the first round. Rudy Gobert, who has experience as a No. 1 seed with Utah, said it’s important to keep focusing on business and not get distracted by the standings.

“I can feel that we have a purpose,” he said. “Personally, I came here to help this team win a championship. But last year, it was kind of like a lot of adversity. We realized early on that it probably was not going to be that year, but we could feel that we had the potential. And this year, from day one of training camp, it was a different focus, different mindset. We learned from everything that happened last year, and it made us grow.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Nikola Jokic isn’t a fan of the NBA’s new 65-game minimum for players to qualify for postseason awards, per Bennett Durando of The Denver Post. The Nuggets center believes it puts pressure on players to take the court when they shouldn’t, adding that it likely factored into Joel Embiid‘s meniscus injury. “We saw what happened with Joel,” Jokic said. “… I just don’t like it, how it forces players to play even if they’re injured if they want to achieve something.”
  • Nuggets guard Christian Braun has been dealing with a series of injuries dating back to October, according to Sean Keeler of The Denver Post. The latest is a sprained left ankle that robbed Braun of his explosiveness and made him grateful for the week-long break. “I don’t want to sit here and make any excuses, but it hasn’t been great,” Braun said. “But I feel all right … I think this this break for me, personally, will be great for my body. I think that’s the biggest thing for me right now, is getting my body back. (It) hasn’t felt great all year.”
  • Jazz point guard Keyonte George has been through an up-and-down rookie year, but coach Will Hardy has put him back in the starting lineup to see what he can do, writes Tony Jones of The Athletic. George turned in his best game Thursday with 33 points and a rookie record nine three-pointers. “He’s very talented. He plays well with the rest of the guys in our starting unit,” Hardy said. “We just thought it was time to put him back in the lineup.”

Six Teams Must Make Roster Additions By March 1

NBA rules allow a team to dip below 14 players on their standard (15-man) roster, but only temporarily. A club can carry fewer than 14 players for up to two weeks, which means the clock is ticking on a handful of teams around the league, who must must make a roster addition at some point in the coming days.

Here are those clubs, along with the deadline for them to make a free agent signing:

Golden State Warriors (Feb. 22)

The Warriors had been carrying 14 players entering the day of the trade deadline on February 8 and dipped down to 13 later that day by trading away Cory Joseph, so they’ll have until next Thursday to fill Joseph’s roster spot.

The Warriors’ most obvious internal candidate for a promotion is Lester Quinones, who has been part of the regular rotation as of late, appearing in each of the team’s past 10 games and averaging 18.8 minutes per night. Quinones’ fellow two-way players, Usman Garuba and Jerome Robinson, haven’t had roles in Golden State this season.

Minnesota Timberwolves (Feb. 22)

The Timberwolves made a two-for-one trade on deadline day, sending out Shake Milton and Troy Brown for Monte Morris. That deal created a second opening on their 15-man roster, which they’ll have to fill by Thursday.

Unlike Golden State, Minnesota doesn’t have a clear candidate for a promotion among its two-way players, Luka Garza, Daishen Nix, and Jaylen Clark. The Wolves could still go that route, but I expect they’ll scour the free agent market to see if there’s a veteran who would make sense as a depth piece for what the club hopes will be an extended postseason run.

New York Knicks (Feb. 22)

The Knicks will actually have to make a pair of roster additions by next Thursday, since they dropped to 12 players on trade deadline day. Taj Gibson has since signed a 10-day contract, but it will expire on Monday night, at which point New York will once again have three open roster spots, two of which will need to be filled.

Gibson is a strong candidate for one of those openings — since he has signed two 10-day deals already, he’d need to get a rest-of-season contract if the Knicks want to keep him. As for the other spot, one report suggested that a two-way or G League player could be promoted, but New York has also been connected to veteran free agents, including former Knick Nerlens Noel.

Philadelphia 76ers (Feb. 22)

A busy trade deadline day saw the Sixers send out five players (Marcus Morris, Furkan Korkmaz, Patrick Beverley, Jaden Springer, and Danuel House) and acquire only two (Buddy Hield and Cameron Payne) in return, creating three open roster spots.

Philadelphia has since filled one by signing Kyle Lowry on the buyout market, but another addition will be required by Thursday. It would be a little surprising if it’s not a center, given that the team has been on the lookout for frontcourt help since Joel Embiid went down with a meniscus injury.

Phoenix Suns (Feb. 22)

The Suns traded four players (Jordan Goodwin, Yuta Watanabe, Keita Bates-Diop, and Chimezie Metu) at the deadline and brought back two (Royce O’Neale and David Roddy), generating two roster openings.

It’s not official yet, but there’s no mystery about who will become the Suns’ 14th man — they’re reportedly finalizing a deal with veteran forward Thaddeus Young. That signing is expected to be completed at some point next week.

Washington Wizards (March 1)

Unlike the other teams on this list, the Wizards’ trade deadline moves didn’t leave them short of the 14-man mark. But they waived Delon Wright on Friday after negotiating a buyout agreement, dropping their standard roster count to 13 players. They have 13 more days to fill that spot.

The lottery-bound Wizards won’t be in the market for a veteran free agent, so I’d bet on an internal promotion. Two-way players Eugene Omoruyi and Jared Butler are both legitimate candidates for standard multiyear contracts.

One more team to watch: Toronto Raptors

The Raptors have a full 15-man roster for the time being, but their 14th and 15th men – Justise Winslow and Mouhamadou Gueye – are both on 10-day contracts that will expire on Monday night. If Toronto doesn’t re-sign one or both players immediately, the club will be on the clock to add a new free agent or promote a two-way player by March 5.

And-Ones: 2024 Offseason, Vegas, Mudiay, Forbes, More

The NBA had a busy trade deadline, but there were no blockbuster deals completed last week, with role players like Buddy Hield, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Gordon Hayward among the biggest names who were on the move. However, according to Howard Beck of The Ringer, executives around the league are expecting more fireworks during the 2024 offseason.

“There will be a lot of parts moved this offseason,” one Eastern Conference executive told Beck. “There’s going to be some options, some high-level guys that ask to get moved.”

As Beck writes, this spring’s playoff results could have a significant impact on what the trade market looks like this offseason. If a team with expectations of a deep playoff run gets bounced early, rival executives will be watching closely to see if that team’s stars have a wandering eye. The Lakers (LeBron James), Suns (Kevin Durant), and Cavaliers (Donovan Mitchell) are among the examples Beck provides, with one exec predicting that “there’s no doubt” Mitchell leaves Cleveland at the end of his current contract in 2025.

There will also be franchises with increasingly expensive rosters who may begin to feel pressure to make a move to generate more financial flexibility or to avoid committing to a pricey luxury tax bill, Beck notes, identifying the Celtics, Timberwolves, and Pelicans as some of the teams that rivals will be monitoring.

Beck is also the latest reporter to say that executives around the NBA believe Trae Young‘s name will pop up in trade rumors this offseason. One Western Conference exec told Beck, “I think they would love to trade Trae,” while another said the Hawks discussed a potential Young deal with the Spurs prior to last Thursday’s deadline.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Appearing on ESPN on Wednesday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver once again stated that Las Vegas is “definitely on our list” of markets that will receive consideration for the next round of expansion, according to The Associated Press. “We want to figure out what our media relationships are going to look like but then we will turn to expansion,” Silver said.
  • Former NBA lottery pick Emmanuel Mudiay has signed with Piratas de Quebradillas, according to an Instagram post from the Puerto Rican team. Mudiay, who also played in Puerto Rico’s BSN league last season for Cangrejeros de Santurce, was the seventh overall pick in the 2015 draft and has appeared in over 300 NBA games, most recently with Sacramento in 2021/22.
  • Former NBA sharpshooter Bryn Forbes has been arrested on a family violence charge, per an Associated Press report. Forbes, who was also arrested last February following a domestic incident, was jailed on Tuesday in San Antonio on a charge of assaulting a family member by choking/strangulation, which is considered a third-degree felony. The 30-year-old hasn’t been in the NBA since he was waived by Minnesota a year ago.
  • With G League Ignite prospect Ron Holland unable to participate in All-Star weekend due to a thumb injury, the NBA has announced that Cavaliers two-way forward Emoni Bates will replace him in the Rising Stars game (press release) and that Bulls two-way center Adama Sanogo will take his place in the G League Up Next game (Twitter link).

NBA Teams With Open Roster Spots

A number of free agent signings have been finalized in the days since last Thursday’s trade deadline, but there are still many teams around the NBA with one or more open spots on their respective rosters.

For clubs with just a single standard or two-way opening, there’s not necessarily any urgency to fill those spots, especially ahead of the All-Star break. But the clock is ticking for teams who have two or more openings on their standard rosters to make a move, since clubs are only permitted to carry fewer than 14 players on standard contracts for up to two weeks at a time.

With the help of our roster count tracker, here’s where things stand for all 30 teams around the NBA as of Tuesday afternoon. As a reminder, teams are typically permitted to carry up to 15 players on standard contracts and three on two-way deals.

(Note: Teams marked with an asterisk have a player on a 10-day contract.)

Teams with multiple open roster spots

  • Brooklyn Nets
    • Note: One of the Nets’ roster openings is a two-way slot.
  • Golden State Warriors
  • Milwaukee Bucks
    • Note: Both of the Bucks’ roster openings are two-way slots.
  • Minnesota Timberwolves
  • New Orleans Pelicans
  • New York Knicks *
  • Philadelphia 76ers
  • Phoenix Suns

The Warriors, Timberwolves, and Pelicans are all currently carrying 13 players on standard, full-season contracts, with all three of their two-way slots filled. That means they’ll have to add a 14th man at some point in the not-too-distant future to adhere to the NBA’s minimum roster requirements.

Golden State and Minnesota made trades on February 8 that dropped them below 14 players, so those two teams have until Feb. 22 to add a player. New Orleans’ deadline is coming a little earlier, since the club dipped to 13 when Malcolm Hill‘s 10-day contract expired on Feb. 6.

No roster moves are required for the Nets and Bucks, as both teams have at least 14 players on standard contracts, with one or more two-way openings. I’d expect Brooklyn and Milwaukee to fill those two-way slots before the two-way signing deadline in early March, though they don’t necessarily have to.

The Knicks and Sixers currently only have 12 players on standard, full-season contracts. New York also has Taj Gibson on a 10-day deal, while Philadelphia is poised to sign Kyle Lowry to a rest-of-season contract. Both teams will need to make at least one more roster move by Feb. 22 after dipping down to 12 players on trade deadline day last Thursday.

As for the Suns, they’re currently carrying just 13 players on standard contracts, but it sounds like they’ve already lined up a deal with a 14th man — a report earlier today indicated that they’re preparing to sign Thaddeus Young.

Teams with one open roster spot

  • Boston Celtics
  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Chicago Bulls
  • Cleveland Cavaliers *
  • Dallas Mavericks
  • Indiana Pacers
  • Miami Heat
  • Utah Jazz
  • Washington Wizards

One of the 14 players on the Cavaliers‘ standard roster is Zhaire Smith, who is on a 10-day deal. Once his contract expires next week, the Cavs will have to either re-sign him or add another 14th man — and they’ll have to do it right away.

In addition to being prohibited from carrying fewer than 14 players on standard deals for more than two weeks at a time, NBA teams are limited to 28 days of carrying fewer than 14 players over the course of a season. The Cavs have already reached that 28-day limit, having carried just 13 players from January 4-18 and again from January 28 until February 11.

The rest of these teams have 14-man standard rosters with no two-way openings, meaning there’s no urgency for them to make any moves, though they’ll likely fill those open roster slots at some point between now and the end of the season in April.

Teams with no open roster spots

  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Denver Nuggets
  • Detroit Pistons *
  • Houston Rockets
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • Memphis Grizzlies *
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Orlando Magic
  • Portland Trail Blazers *
  • Sacramento Kings
  • San Antonio Spurs
  • Toronto Raptors *

Twelve of these 13 teams have full 18-man rosters, with 15 players signed to standard contracts and three to two-way deals. However, the Pistons, Trail Blazers, and especially the Raptors are worth monitoring here, since they all have players on 10-day contracts and can open up roster spots when those deals expire.

Detroit and Portland are each carrying a single player on a 10-day deal, while Toronto has two, meaning the Raptors will dip down to 13 players on standard contracts during the All-Star break. They’ll have up to two weeks to get back to 14.

The Grizzlies are actually carrying 19 players at the moment, with 16 players on standard contracts (15 full-season deals, plus Jordan Goodwin on a 10-day) because they’ve been granted a hardship exception due to all the injured players they’re missing.

And-Ones: MVP Race, 2024 Draft, Korkmaz, Okafor, More

With Joel Embiid no longer eligible for this season’s MVP award due to the number of games he has missed, the race appears wide open, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN, who conducted another version of his straw poll ahead of the All-Star break.

The 100 media members polled over the weekend by MacMahon selected Nuggets center Nikola Jokic as the current MVP favorite, with Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as the runner-up. Jokic earned 69 first-place votes and was the only player selected by all 100 voters on their five-player ballots, while Gilgeous-Alexander was listed on 99 ballots and was the top choice on 24 of them.

Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, and Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard rounded out the top five in Bontemps’ latest poll, with Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, Knicks guard Jalen Brunson, and Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell also appearing on double-digit ballots. Notably, while just four of 100 media members had Anthony Edwards in their top five, one made the Timberwolves guard their MVP choice.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Although Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo of ESPN (Insider link) still feel as if the 2024 draft class is short on high-end talent, they believe it could end up being a relatively deep draft. Givony and Woo suggest that some teams will be able to find rotation players later in the first round or in the second round, even if there are no sure-fire stars at the top of the class.
  • After being traded from Philadelphia to Indiana and then waived by the Pacers, veteran swingman Furkan Korkmaz has turned down interest from Turkish club Besiktas for now and is hoping to remain in the NBA, according to a report from Eurohoops. Korkmaz didn’t play much for the Sixers the past two seasons, but is still just 26 years old and is a 36.1% three-point shooter over the past five years.
  • Former lottery pick Jahlil Okafor is on the move again, having recently signed with Puerto Rican team Capitanes de Arecibo, as Dario Skerletic of Sportando relays. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2015 draft, Okafor played in Spain and China earlier this season. He last played in the NBA with Detroit in 2020/21.
  • Grizzlies guard Vince Williams has been chosen to replace injured Pelicans guard Dyson Daniels in this Friday’s Rising Stars game at All-Star weekend, while Indiana Mad Ants guard Kyle Mangas will replace Sixers two-way player Kenneth Lofton Jr. in the G League Next Up game, according to a pair of announcements from the NBA and NBAGL.

Doc: No One's Laughing At Gobert Trade Now

  • The Timberwolves took plenty of heat last season for their blockbuster trade with the Jazz that brought Rudy Gobert to Minnesota. Bucks coach Doc Rivers recently said those critics have been muffled this season, Nolan O’Hara of Sports Illustrated relays. “I don’t think anyone’s laughing at that trade anymore,” Rivers said after Minnesota defeated Milwaukee last week. “They’re just so long, and they play hard, too.”