Minnesota Timberwolves

Magic Considering Kevin McHale As President

Hall of Famer Kevin McHale is among the candidates to become team president in Orlando, according to Sam Amick of USA Today.

The TNT analyst would bring plenty of experience to the position. He served as president of basketball operations for the Timberwolves from 1995 to 2008, and twice took over as the team’s coach. His last NBA job was as coach of the Rockets from 2011 to 2015.

The Magic are hoping to hire someone with previous GM experience to fill the president’s role. However, McHale is also being considered for a front office position in Minnesota.

Orlando also has strong interest in Cavaliers GM David Griffin, who is not signed beyond this season. That explains why the process has gone so slowly since Rob Hennigan was fired April 13th, as the Magic have hired a search firm but have not spoken to any candidates. Griffin isn’t expected to discuss the job in Orlando until Cleveland’s playoff run is complete.

Amick adds that interim GM Matt Lloyd remains a candidate to keep that post on a permanent basis.

Shabazz Muhammad Hires Rich Paul As Agent

With his rookie contract coming to an end, Timberwolves wing Shabazz Muhammad will have new representation for his first foray into free agency. According to Shams Charania of The Vertical (via Twitter), Muhammad has signed with agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports.

As Jake Fischer of SI.com observes (via Twitter), Muhammad had previously been represented by Rob Pelinka of Landmark Sports. When Pelinka was hired by the Lakers as the team’s new general manager, his clients were up for grabs, though some – such as James Harden and Andre Iguodala – have already indicated that they’ll remain with Landmark’s other reps. Muhammad is the first former Pelinka client to leave for another agency, per Fischer.

It should be an interesting offseason for Muhammad, who will be eligible for restricted free agency. Assuming the Timberwolves tender him a qualifying offer, which will be worth about $4.188MM, Minnesota will have the opportunity to match any offer sheet the 24-year-old may sign with a rival suitor.

In his fourth NBA season, Muhammad averaged 9.9 PPG and 2.8 RPG, with a shooting line of .482/.336/.774. The former 14th overall pick has been a regular rotation player for the last three years in Minnesota, averaging 20.5 minutes per contest in 198 total regular season games during that stretch.

The Nets are among the teams rumored to have some interest in Muhammad.

Garnett Discusses Taylor, Saunders

  • For the second time in a week, former Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett spoke about his relationship with franchise owner Glen Taylor. A report on ESPN details the conversation KG had with the Associated Press, including how he felt Flip Saunders‘ passing was handled.

Nets Interested In Shabazz Muhammad?

Shabazz Muhammad will be a restricted free agent this offseason and Darren Wolfson of ESPN.com (podcast) hears that the Nets are a team to keep an eye on. Brooklyn has pursued several restricted free agents since Sean Marks took over GM duties, though the organization has been unsuccessful in its attempts. The team went after Donatas Motiejunas, Tyler Johnson, and Allen Crabbe only to see each player’s original team match Brooklyn’s offer sheet.

Minnesota likes Muhammad and would like to bring him back, Wolfson adds. The Wolves have approximately $75MM in guaranteed salary on the books next season, so they could ostensibly make the small-forward a lucrative offer. However, Zach LaVine, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Andrew Wiggins will all be lining up for new deals over the next few years, so the team may be best served to keep its future cap sheet clean and veer away from adding any substantial long-term money.

The UCLA product shot the ball nearly eight times per game last season and he made 48.2% of his attempts. He wasn’t efficient from behind the arc, making just 33.6% of his shots and he didn’t set up teammates for good looks with his passing very often. He had 35 dimes on the season, which includes a 15-game stretch between the end of December and the end of January where he registered just one assist. In fact, Muhammad had the fewest assists on a season in league history among all non-bigs who played at least 1500 minutes and used over 20% of his team’s possessions.

Muhammad made slightly over $3.0MM this season, though regardless of his score-first mentality, he should be in line for a raise on that figure with his next deal. He’ll turn 25 at the start of next season.

Kevin Garnett Talks Wolves, Glen Taylor, BIG3

Speaking to Adi Joseph of USA Today, future Hall-of-Famer Kevin Garnett explains that he received multiple TV offers following his retirement as a player, but opted to join TNT because Turner was the only network willing to give him the kind of unique role he sought, rather than having him become a panelist on a studio show.

Although Garnett’s conversation with Joseph focused in part on KG’s analyst role with TNT, the longtime NBA big man also weighed in on a few other topics of note, including why he doesn’t currently have a role with the Timberwolves. Here are a few notable Garnett quotes from the piece, which is worth reading in full:

On whether he might return to the Wolves as a front office exec or minority owner:

“It seemed like it was perfect for how Flip [Saunders] organized and put it together and designed it. Obviously when he left us, [team owner] Glen [Taylor] saw differently and wanted to go a different way. I’ve always said I wanted to be a part of an organization that is about winning more progressively, in that direction. Minnesota seemed like a perfect fit for that. That has changed. I don’t see myself doing that any time soon, but that still is a goal of mine. I would like to be part of an organization that is part of winning, that I can help the young guys progress. So that’s still a dream but not a priority at this point.”

On whether it was disappointing that the possibility of taking on a role with the Wolves became less viable:

“A little bit. A little bit. To say Debbie Downer is an understatement. It was a huge disappointment and one that showed me the true Glen Taylor. It showed me how he really feels. When this guy got the team, it was worth $90MM. When I left it, it was worth somewhere in the $400 [millions]. That was never taken into account in my value or none of that. I guess I served my purpose, and I was on to the next. So it’s all good. So it’s all good. I’m moving on and taking my ball and playing somewhere else. (Laughs.)”

On whether he has the urge to keep playing basketball, possibly in Ice Cube’s BIG3 league:

“Before I walked away from the Timberwolves, I was prepared to play a couple years. So when I walked away from that, I hung my shoes up for good and put the glass on it. And I have not had an itch to be out there at all. So, no. Ice Cube’s people called me from the [BIG3] — three-on-three doesn’t do it for me, bruh, I’m sorry.”

Four Teams Finished Below 2016/17 Salary Floor

Four NBA teams finished the 2016/17 season below the league’s salary floor and will have to make up the difference by paying a little extra money to the players who finished the season on their respective rosters. The Nets, Nuggets, Timberwolves, and Jazz each fell short of the $84.729MM floor this season.

While the 2016/17 league year isn’t over yet, the end of the regular season last week signaled the “snapshot” day for luxury tax and salary floor purposes. Teams are required to spend at least 90% of the salary cap in each NBA season, though the penalties for failing to do so aren’t exactly punitive. If a club falls $2MM short of the salary floor, for instance, it must pay that $2MM to players on its roster to reach the floor.

Our numbers aren’t official, but they should very closely resemble the NBA’s final figures. Bobby Marks of The Vertical confirmed last week that Brooklyn, Denver, Minnesota, and Utah finished below the salary floor. Here’s what those team’s end-of-season cap figures look like, per our Salary Cap Snapshots:

While the current CBA doesn’t include a set formula that teams must adhere to when distributing the salary floor shortfall to their players, it’s believed that players generally receive proportional amounts based on their salaries, rather than even splits. So for the Jazz, a player like Gordon Hayward would receive a larger share than Joel Bolomboy.

With the NBA’s salary cap expected to increase to at least $101MM in 2017/18, the league’s salary floor appears likely to exceed $90MM next season.

Ricky Rubio Wants To Win, Unsure About Future

  • Asked earlier this week if he wants to remain in Minnesota and win with the Timberwolves, Ricky Rubio said he wants to win, but was noncommittal about whether it will happen with the Wolves, noting that that decision is ultimately up to the team (link via Marca.com; translation via HoopsHype).
  • Timberwolves head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau held his end-of-season press conference today, expressing a desire to bring back potential RFA Shabazz Muhammad, and suggesting that his club’s most pressing offseason needs are defense (specifically on the wing), shot-blocking, and shooting (link via 5 Eyewitness News).
  • Asked earlier this week if he wants to remain in Minnesota and win with the Timberwolves, Ricky Rubio said he wants to win, but was noncommittal about whether it will happen with the Wolves, noting that that decision is ultimately up to the team (link via Marca.com; translation via HoopsHype).

2017 NBA Draft Lottery Odds

With the NBA’s 2016/17 regular season now in the books, the odds for this year’s draft lottery have been set. With the help of our Reverse Standings, as well as information from LotteryBucket.com, here is the 2017 lottery order, along with each team’s chances of landing a top pick:

  1. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn Nets)
    • No. 1: 25.0%
    • Top-3: 64.3%
    • Lowest pick: No. 4
    • Note: Celtics acquire pick due to ability to swap first-round picks with Nets.
  2. Phoenix Suns
    • No. 1: 19.9%
    • Top-3: 55.8%
    • Lowest pick: No. 5
  3. Los Angeles Lakers
    • No. 1: 15.6%
    • Top-3: 46.9%
    • Lowest pick: No. 6
    • Note: Pick will be sent to Sixers if not in top 3 (odds: 53.1%).
  4. Philadelphia 76ers
    • No. 1: 14.7%
    • Top-3: 45.3%
    • Lowest pick: No. 7
    • Note: Sixers have right to swap picks with Kings, so their No. 1 and top-3 odds are a little higher than they otherwise would be. No. 1 and top-3 odds for Sixers’ own pick are 11.9% and 37.8%, respectively.
  5. Orlando Magic
    • No. 1: 8.8%
    • Top-3: 29.12%
    • Lowest pick: No. 8
  6. Minnesota Timberwolves
    • No. 1: 5.3%
    • Top-3: 18.3%
    • Lowest pick: No. 9
    • Note: Timberwolves won tiebreaker with Knicks.
  7. New York Knicks
    • No. 1: 5.3%
    • Top-3: 18.2%
    • Lowest pick: No. 10
    • Note: Knicks lost tiebreaker with Timberwolves.
  8. Sacramento Kings
    • No. 1: N/A
    • Top-3: 2.5%
    • Lowest pick: No. 11
    • Note: Sixers have right to swap picks with Kings, rendering No. 1 pick impossible and greatly reducing odds of top-3 pick.
    • Note: Pick will be sent to Bulls if not in top 10 (odds: 0.01%).
  9. Dallas Mavericks
    • No. 1: 1.7%
    • Top-3: 6.1%
    • Lowest pick: No. 12
  10. New Orleans Pelicans
    • No. 1: 1.1%
    • Top-3: 4.0%
    • Lowest pick: No. 13
    • Note: Pick will be sent to Kings if not in top 3 (odds: 96.0%).
  11. Charlotte Hornets
    • No. 1: 0.8%
    • Top-3: 2.9%
    • Lowest pick: No. 14
  12. Detroit Pistons
    • No. 1: 0.7%
    • Top-3: 2.5%
    • Lowest pick: No. 14
  13. Denver Nuggets
    • No. 1: 0.6%
    • Top-3: 2.2%
    • Lowest pick: No. 14
  14. Miami Heat
    • No. 1: 0.5%
    • Top-3: 1.8%
    • Lowest pick: No. 14

Taylor Wants T-Wolves To Add Vets

The Timberwolves fell short of their goal to win a playoff spot this season and team owner Glen Taylor is already thinking about how his organization can put the roster in position to do so in 2016/17, says Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune. One solution? Add veterans.

[Tom Thibodeau] needs some players that will come off the bench and keep us going and not give up the lead,” the Timberwolves owner said. “I think he would say if he can get some guys with experience that would be helpful, so he can mix them in with our young guys during those substitution times. I think that will be a priority.

The Timberwolves have plenty of money heading into the offseason, especially as the injured Nikola Pekovic‘s salary gets covered by insurance. That budget, coupled with Minnesota’s genuine emergence as a squad capable of contending in the near future (as opposed to a hypothetically spooky one), could bode well for the franchise’s pursuit of establish talent this offseason.

Potential 2017 RFAs Whose Qualifying Offers Will Be Impacted By Starter Criteria

The NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which will go into effect on July 1, 2017, includes a number of changes to the free agent process, including some that apply specifically to restricted free agents. However, one aspect of restricted free agency unaffected by the new CBA is what’s referred to as the “starter criteria,” which can affect how much an RFA’s qualifying offer will be worth.

Here’s how the starter criteria works: A player who is eligible for restricted free agency is considered to have met the starter criteria if he plays at least 2,000 minutes or starts 41 games in the season before he reaches free agency. A player can also meet the criteria if he averages either of those marks in the two seasons prior to his restricted free agency. For instance, if a player started 50 games in 2015/16 and 35 in 2016/17, he’d meet the starter criteria, since his average number of starts over the last two seasons exceeds 41.

A player’s ability or inability to meet the starter criteria can affect the value of the qualifying offer he receives as a restricted free agent, as follows:

  • A top-14 pick who does not meet the starter criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 15th overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A player picked between 10th and 30th who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the ninth overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A second-round pick or undrafted player who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 21st overall pick would receive if he signed for 100% of the rookie scale.
  • For all other RFAs, the standard criteria determine the amounts of their qualifying offers.

Extending a qualifying offer to a player ensures that a team has the right of first refusal if he signs an offer sheet, and gives the player the option of signing that one-year QO. Generally, the value of a restricted free agent’s qualifying offer isn’t hugely important, since very few RFAs accept those offers outright. Still, those QOs can have an impact on a team’s salary cap outlook during July’s free agent period, so it’s worth checking in to see which potential RFAs will be eligible for higher or lower qualifying offers this summer.

Listed below are the top-14 picks on track for restricted free agency who have not met the starter criteria. These players will be eligible for qualifying offers worth $4,187,598.

Len and Noel had the worst QO luck this season. As the fifth and sixth overall picks in 2013, they would have been in line for qualifying offers worth about $6.4MM and $5.85MM, respectively. Instead, their QOs will be worth less than $4.2MM. Both players were very close to meeting the starter criteria too — they’ve started 77 games apiece in the past two years, so they’ll fall just short of the 82 required.

The players listed below are non-lottery first-round picks who will meet the starter criteria. That will make each of them eligible for a qualifying offer worth $4,588,840.

All four of these players were selected in the 20-26 range in the 2013 draft, and their QOs would’ve ranged from about $3.39MM to $3.22MM if they hadn’t met the starter criteria.

Here are the rest of the RFAs whose qualifying offers won’t necessarily be determined by the standard criteria:

  • Undrafted power forward JaMychal Green (Grizzlies) has met the starter criteria, putting him in line for a QO worth $2,820,497 instead of the more modest amount he would’ve received as a minimum-salary player.
  • Two players – Joe Ingles (Jazz) and Ben McLemore (Kings) – still have a chance to meet the starter criteria depending on how the season’s last four days play out. Ingles has played 1,848 minutes this season, meaning he would have to average about 38 MPG in Utah’s last four contests to reach 2,000, which is a tall order. McLemore may fall just short as well, as he currently sits at 79 starts over the last two seasons. He’ll need to start three of the Kings’ last four games in order to average 41 starts per year, but he has only been in Sacramento’s starting lineup twice since the start of March. (End-of-season update: Neither Ingles nor McLemore met the starter criteria.)
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