By: Seth Toupal
WELCOME TO THE START OF NBA FREE AGENCY!!!!!
It's finally here and Gersson Rosas isn't wasting any time trying to improve the Wolves roster. By the time you read this, the Wolves will have been linked HEAVILY to D'Angelo Russell, and are meeting with him on Monday. Seems difficult considering the Wolves current salary cap commitments right? Well before we get into Russell let's take a look at what is currently on the books according to Spotrac:
And here are the Wolves impending restricted and unrestricted free agents:
And most importantly here is the salary cap figure for the upcoming season:
Depending on what happens with Russell, the Wolves will have to attack the offseason in a couple of different ways. Each option gives this team a pretty drastically different look.
Plan A is clearly acquiring Russell. This can be done in a couple of different ways. According to Woj, it is all but certain that Kyrie Irving will sign with Brooklyn, who had extended Russell a qualifying offer. The Nets will then renounce Russell's rights making him an unrestricted free agent which helps the Wolves in their pitch. They no longer have to worry about putting a package together that Brooklyn would be comfortable with taking on in return, and simply have to clear cap space to bring him in. Russell and Towns are very good friends, which helps the Wolves in their pitch.
Their biggest competition appears to be the Lakers, but the Lakers view him as a fallback option in the event that Kawhi Leonard goes elsewhere. Will Russell be willing to wait if Kawhi doesn't sign right away? The Timberwolves biggest contracts are Andrew Wiggins, Jeff Teague, and Gorgui Dieng. The growing sense around the league is that the Wolves will have no problem moving Wiggins in a trade and wouldn't even have to classify it as a salary dump. If the Wolves are able to unload Wiggins, that would clear the room they need to sign Russell.
The question then becomes what next? With Russell in the fold, Teague becomes expendable and the Wolves can look at their options. Phoenix is looking for a veteran point guard (and has been for basically the entire post-Steve Nash era) so that may be a logical trade partner. If Teague is unloaded, then suddenly the Wolves have money to work with and can look at veteran bigs to put around Karl-Anthony Towns. Taj Gibson may be receptive to coming back on a reduced salary with a guarantee for more playing time. If not other names the Wolves could consider if they offload big salaries names they could target to help bolster their big rotation look like this:
And the Wolves could look for some wings too, but with Culver, Covington and Okogie all under contract right now the need there is substantially less than some bigs.
These names would be those that the Wolves would target either way, but a roster with KAT and Russell looks dramatically different than one with KAT and Wiggins, it just does. The main objective here is obviously Russell, and if that falls through then they'll resort to Plan B -- a plan we aren't quite aware of yet but from what Rosas had said, would still be an aggressive pursuit of a potential star sidekick next to Towns.
This offseason has started out with a surprising amount of buzz and that means the Wolves are working on a few things. This roster could look dramatically different by the end of the week.
Seth is the host of The Scoop on KLGR Radio out of Redwood Falls, Minnesota. Listen to episodes of The Scoop here.