After making the playoffs for the first time in 14 years, the Timberwolves found themselves out of the conversation of lottery draft prospects, and into the conversation of identifying the final pieces to a potential championship winning side.
To start, we should identify players on the roster who’s contract will be expiring this year. While our main core are under contract through at least next season, a number of our role players have contracts expiring. Nemanja Bjelica, Amile Jefferson, and Marcus Georges-Hunt will all be restricted free agents this summer. Thankfully, Tom Thibodeau has the ability to match any offer that comes their way if they cannot agree on a deal to begin with. Guards, Derrick Rose and Aaron Brooks are both on expiring deals and hopefully both move on to other pastures as I am not a big fan of either. Mostly because I believe in Tyus Jones to take a secure hold of the backup point guard position on our team.
I would love for Bjelica, Jefferson, and Georges-Hunt to all return next season. It might be hard to convince the last two considering they received a minimal amount of minutes so in their best interests, they could look elsewhere to progress their career. Bjelica on the other hand played a crucial role on this team by supplying outside shooting along the wing. He filled in for an injured Jimmy Butler admirably as well. Resigning him to a 3 year deal worth about 22-28 million dollars overall would be a great investment for the Timberwolves. Unfortunately, wings in this market are at a premium so we could end up having to overpay or lose Bjelica entirely.
If you follow the Timberwolves closely or even casually, you will understand the need of 3 and D wings on this roster. The draft will be a crucial opportunity to address the need with a competent team defender and someone who can shoot from distance. This year’s draft has plenty of quality to be found even early into the second round which is promising for the Wolves as they will be picking 20th this year.
In free agency, it will be hard to operate as we are tied up by the contracts of Andrew Wiggins, Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, and Gorgui Dieng. Also, we have a max contract extension looming for star big man Karl-Anthony Towns. We don’t have a realistic shot at any premium wings hitting free agency this summer.
Moving Gorgui Dieng could be a possibility especially considering Thibodeau’s lack of use of the big man. The only issue with moving him is the fact that no one wants to pay his contract so an additional asset would have to be attached to dump his salary.
As mentioned earlier, Towns is eligible for a contract extension and it would be wise to lock him up sooner rather than letting things drag on through the summer. He is unanimously worthy of max money which would be a 5 year deal worth 148 million dollars. The same contract Andrew Wiggins received last offseason. These two deals, along with a Jimmy Butler extension (hopefully) are going to occupy most of the Timberwolves salary cap room for the foreseeable future.
Tom Thibodeau has a great opportunity to build depth in our bench unit this summer. This would allow our star players to receive a respectable amount of rest as the new season takes place. Rookie contracts are going to be very valuable to the Timberwolves for the next five years as our cap room is essentially controlled by Butler, Towns and Wiggins. The future is bright for a team looking to secure consecutive playoff berths next Spring. And fortunately, this is only the beginning.
photo credit – startribune.com