Minnesota Timberwolves

Gibson Validates Contract With Wolves

  • Tyus Jones is also finding minutes hard to come by off the Wolves‘ bench, but he is compensating by developing chemistry with center Karl-Anthony Towns, relays Kent Youngblood of The Star-Tribune. Jones, who recently had his fourth-year option picked up, has developed an effective two-man game with Towns. “We’ve known each other since high school,’’ Towns said. “We’ve had a great chemistry. And we play the same style of basketball.”

Taj Gibson is justifying the Timberwolves‘ decision to give him a two-year, $28MM contract this summer, writes Britt Robson of The Athletic. Many questioned committing that much to Gibson when Minnesota had obvious needs at the wing and Gorgui Dieng already in place at power forward. Through the first month of the season, Gibson is logging a career high in minutes at 30.7 per game, while Dieng’s playing time has been cut to 15.4 per night from 32.4 a year ago.

KAT Supports Idea Of NBA Players Using Medical Marijuana

  • Count Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns among those who support the idea of NBA players being permitted to use marijuana for medical purposes. The big man spoke with the media, including Nick Friedell of ESPN, about the hot topic.

Knicks Considering Stretch Provision For Joakim Noah?

Joakim Noah hasn’t played since his 20-game PED suspension expired Saturday, and Marc Berman of the New York Post writes that the Knicks will probably waive the veteran center at some point and use the stretch provision on the final two years of his contract.

“We want him to be involved,’’ coach Jeff Hornacek said Wednesday after sitting Noah for the second straight game. “[He wants] to be involved. We don’t know when the time will come when he’s active.”

Hornacek’s dilemma is that he now has four centers competing for playing time. Enes Kanter, acquired in the Carmelo Anthony trade, has taken over the starting spot, with Kyle O’Quinn playing well as the backup. Willy Hernangomez is already upset about his reduced minutes after being part of the rotation last season.

Hornacek said it’s “possible” that he may find a way to use all four centers, but added, “I’m not looking to do that right away.”

Any move with Noah probably won’t happen soon, Berman notes, as there is no advantage in terms of cap space in using the stretch provision now. The Knicks have a September 1 deadline if they want to take the $37.8MM Noah is owed for the final two seasons of his deal and stretch it over five years.

Noah would receive a little more than $7.5MM per season, giving New York roughly $11MM in extra cap room for next year and $12MM for 2019/20. The Knicks could opt to seek a buyout or  waive him without stretching the contract, which would provide little to no cap relief over the next two seasons, but would remove his salary from the books by July of 2020.

Although Noah has minimal trade value, Berman mentions Timberwolves coach/executive Tom Thibodeau as someone who might be interested. Thibodeau coached Noah for several years in Chicago, including when he was a first team All-NBA selection in 2013/14.

For now, Noah is reduced to a mentor’s role in New York, working mainly with Kanter and Hernangomez. Hornacek said the NBA’s requirement that teams have an inactive list for each game makes it difficult to find playing time for Noah.

“It’s a tough spot,” the coach said. “He’s a great team guy. He sees how we’re playing. He’s still part of the team if inactive or not. He doesn’t want to rock the boat but he is competitive and wants to be out there to help us.”

2018 Salary Cap Outlook: Northwest Division

NBA rosters will undergo some changes over the course of the 2017/18 season, particularly around the trade deadline, and those changes may have an impact on teams’ cap sheets for future seasons. Based on the NBA’s current rosters, however, we can identify which teams are most and least likely to have cap room in the summer of 2018, which will dictate the type of moves those clubs can make in the offseason.

We’re taking a closer look at each of the NBA’s 30 teams by division this week. Today, we’re tackling the Northwest division. With the help of salary information compiled by Basketball Insiders, here’s how the summer of 2018 is shaping up for the five Northwest teams:

Portland Trail BlazersJusuf Nurkic vertical
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $110,456,026
Projection: Over the cap

The Trail Blazers reduced their future commitments by trading Allen Crabbe to Brooklyn earlier this year, and Ed Davis will come off the books next summer, giving Portland a chance to avoid the luxury tax in 2018/19. However, their $110MM+ in guaranteed salaries for next season doesn’t include a contract for Jusuf Nurkic, who will be a restricted free agent. If they want to re-sign Nurkic and don’t dump another salary, the Blazers figure to return to tax territory.

Minnesota Timberwolves
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $110,233,979
Projection: Over the cap

The Timberwolves’ salary commitments look a lot different now than they did a year ago. Gorgui Dieng‘s lucrative new extension went into effect this summer, and Andrew Wiggins‘ max deal will begin in 2018. Throw in substantial salaries for offseason acquisitions Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, and Taj Gibson, and Minnesota projects to be well over the cap for 2018/19. With a potential extension for Karl-Anthony Towns looming for 2019/20, the Wolves won’t have cap space for the foreseeable future if they intend to keep their current core group together.

Denver Nuggets
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $89,903,848
Projection: Over the cap

The Nuggets’ guaranteed salaries for 2018/19 currently sit around $90MM, but even based on a $101MM cap projection, we shouldn’t expect the team to have any room. There are too many factors working against it.

For one, Denver will face a tough decision on Nikola Jokic — exercising his ultra-affordable $1.6MM team option would put him on track to become an unrestricted free agency in 2019, so the club may opt to decline that option and make him a restricted free agent. In that scenario, a new contract for Jokic would push the Nuggets over the cap.

Even if they simply pick up Jokic’s cheap option, the Nuggets will also have to consider player options for Kenneth Faried ($12.8MM) and Darrell Arthur ($7.5MM). Arthur is a good bet to exercise his option, and even though Faried hasn’t always loved his role in Denver, it’s possible he’ll pick up his too, since it features a pretty player-friendly salary.

Oklahoma City Thunder
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $88,907,222
Projection: Over the cap

Carmelo Anthony‘s early termination option for 2018/19, worth nearly $28MM, is a major X factor for the Thunder, whose guaranteed team salary would increase from approximately $89MM to nearly $117MM if Anthony opts in. Taking into account Carmelo’s age, his production trends, and the current state of the free agent market, it makes sense for him to play out the final year of his current deal, so we’re penciling in Oklahoma City as a probable over-the-cap team.

Even if Anthony opts out and Paul George doesn’t re-sign, OKC could only get up to about $8.8MM in cap room. That’s barely more than the projected value of the mid-level exception, so even in that scenario, the Thunder may simply remain over the cap to avoid renouncing all their exceptions.

Utah Jazz
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $67,839,543
Projection: Up to approximately $28MM in cap room

Only six Jazz players have fully guaranteed salaries for 2018/19, while seven others have non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed salaries, or are restricted free agents. That gives Utah some flexibility if the team wants to maximize its cap room.

However, retaining Thabo Sefolosha for his reasonable non-guaranteed salary of $5.25MM would cut into the Jazz’s space, as would re-signing Rodney Hood and/or Dante Exum. Realistically, unless Utah decides to only hang onto those six fully guaranteed players and make major changes around them, we shouldn’t expect the club to enter July 2018 armed with a ton of cap room.

Previously:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Butler Vows To Take More Of Scoring Load

  • Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler scored 25 points against the Suns on Saturday, and he vows to remain a bigger part of the offense, Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. Butler had scored 16 points or less in seven of his 10 previous games with his new team.  “I do think I have to start scoring the ball a lot more,” Butler told Zgoda. “I think I’ve come too far to be as passive as I am right now. I’m always going to pass the ball to the open man, but if I feel like I can get my shots off and think I can make it, I’m going to take each and every one of those.”

Wolves Considered Mike James Before He Signed With Phoenix

  • The Timberwolves aren’t surprised by the success of Suns point guard Mike James, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. Minnesota considered signing the 27-year-old before he agreed to a two-way contract with Phoenix in July.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/10/17

Here are the G League moves from around the basketball world today:

And-Ones: Youth Movement, Asian Influence, Seattle

The current crop of NBA rookies is one of the best that hoops fans have seen in years, Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders writes. The scribe cites Ben Simmons and Jayson Tatum as two first-year players who’ve looked poised and dominant in significant roles out of the gates.

It’s not just a top-heavy class either, however, all of Kyle Kuzma, Lauri Markkanen and Donovan Mitchell have impressed over the course of their first months in the NBA.

The youth movement may not be limited to the 2017/18 season though. Marc Spears of The Undefeated recently profiled the 12 best collegiate players who could make an impact at the NBA level as early as next season, going so far as to declare that Michael Porter Jr. should have greater star power than anybody in the 2017 class.

There’s more around the league:

  • As the world economy shifts, more and more prominent Asian businesses and billionaires are looking to buy into the NBA. Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune breaks down the trend that formally started when Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor sold a 5% stake in the franchise to Lizhang Jiang.
  • While Tim Leiweke remains confident that he and his Oak View Group represent Seattle’s best chance of regaining an NBA franchise, it’s not necessarily going to happen as soon as some fans would hope. He spoke on the topic at length with Q13’s Bill Wixey.
  • The BIG3 will add retired point guard T.J. Ford to its ranks, an ESPN report says. The guard averaged 11.2 points and 5.8 assists per game over the course of 306 NBA starts in eight seasons.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/9/17

Here are the G League transactions for Thursday:

Timberwolves' New Veteran Leadership Paying Dividends

  • After making a series of veteran additions in the offseason, the Timberwolves entered the 2017/18 campaign with the ninth-oldest roster in the NBA. So far, in the view of Jim Souhan of The Star Tribune, that veteran leadership has paid major dividends in Minnesota. Souhan refers to the roster as not only the best in franchise history, but “the most mature.”
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