By: Brian Simonson
The first round of the NBA playoffs is underway. 16 teams get to continue with the 2018-2019 season, but this also means the rest of the league is getting a head start on their 2019-2020 plans.
One of these teams getting a head start is the Minnesota Timberwolves.
There are several items to address and vacancies to fill within the organization over the next few months. From the top, the President of Basketball Operations is open. Then, you have two positions currently filled at general manager and head coach which are Scott Layden and Ryan Saunders respectively. The uncertainty here is, we are not sure if they will retain their respective positions into the following season.
With that said, the first of the offseason moves we thought occurred was on April 9th, where news broke out that General Manager Scott Layden and Interim Head Coach Ryan Saunders were going to be retained for the foreseeable future. This was quickly retracted and instead, it was made public that the Wolves were searching for a new President of Basketball Operations first.
On the business side, it certainly is imperative that Glen Taylor gets the POBO hiring correct this time, and hopefully, they will be the person deciding the GM and head coach positions. But while that is in flight, let’s point our attention to the front lines of battle in this column, which is the head coaching vacancy.
While there are several candidates available for the vacancy, we’re going to specifically focus on several angles for the current front runner and favorite of the position: Ryan Saunders.
While a fan favorite and had many positives, we have learned Saunders also has some negatives in his early head coaching career. This article will summarize a case for both angles of why Saunders is and is not the right head coach for the future of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Human Element
One thing you noticed during the Tom Thibodeau era is that there was a lack of transparency and communication between coach and players. Thibs implemented a “my way, or the highway” culture with his game plans, practice routines, and rotations, without any room for deviation. It left players to feel stuck, unsure of what their true role was, what they brought to the roster, how many minutes they would get, and ultimately some players were unhappy. Ryan Saunders is a complete 180, where he has an open-door policy with each and every single player. He has one-on-ones with the roster, he’ll have post-game conversations with players to discuss positives, negatives, or simply be there to listen. Saunders has given each player a specific role and clear-cut expectations within their game strategy. Saunders makes you feel like you play an important part of the process, rather than treat you like a pawn.
Buy-In from the Players
The human element that Saunders projects has certainly resulted in high praise and buy-in from the Wolves players. Many of the Wolves—Dario Saric, Tyus Jones, and Karl Anthony Towns to name a few—have gone on the record to express their extreme support for Saunders and hope to have him back for years to come. The players believe in him and will fight for him, which is a breath of fresh air and something we have not seen since Flip Saunders was at the helm. This can ultimately and hopefully lead to great team unison, chemistry, and on-court effort.
He’s an Inexpensive Hire
Saunders is just starting out in his head coaching career and has a lot to prove. This means he necessarily and hopefully won’t be able to demand too high of an annual salary.
He Utilizes the Bench
For two and a half seasons, Wolves fans begged Tom Thibodeau to use his bench, leverage different rotations, and balance the minutes distribution. It left players who accumulated heavy minutes exhausted, and our bench’s potential was kept a mystery. Enter Ryan Saunders, who was forced to use his entire bench to simply keep five bodies on the field as the Wolves were decimated with injuries all season. While injuries are certainly an unfortunate part of the game, it also enabled Saunders to be creative with his rotations and tap into the bench to find their hidden talents. We would have never known that Luol Deng could have been such an integral player for the team. Another example of the bench’s success due to Saunders using the bench is Cameron Reynolds. “Cam” was called up from the G-League and has become a vital role player off the Wolves’ bench with his respectable 3 point shooting. His efforts resulted in landing him an NBA contract with the Wolves (but we’ll see how long it lasts).
The Saunders Legacy and Wolves Culture
One word that many Timberwolves fans, writers, and analysts continuously talk about is “stability”. This team has never had an identity outside of the KG era. The Wolves now have a taste of consistency in their core with Andrew Wiggins, Gorgui Dieng, Tyus Jones, and Karl Anthony Towns. It may be time to cement the stability by inking Ryan Saunders, where his father’s legacy will forever be praised. Signing Saunders would solidify a sense of real organizational culture and is a coach that fans and the players will get behind.
Ryan Saunders has nine and a half years of Assistant Coaching experience, followed by a 17-25 record as head coach. Although it’s unfair to bash his head coaching record because he had to put up with player injuries, it is still a concern that there is more unknown than known facts about his ability to run a team.
The Wolves’ defensive took a serious dip when Saunders took over in January. In his 42 games, the team’s defensive rating went from 109.1 (17th) under Tom Thibodeau to 115.0 (27th) this season. The Wolves have a high-octane offense that is ranked 11th in the league, but their inability to defend the ball has proved costly. 13 of their 25 losses under Saunders were decided by 10 or more points.
Late-Game Strategy Needs Work
As a derivative of Ryan Saunders’ lack of head coaching experience, comes the lack of experience in handling late-game situations. There have been several instances where a bad play has been drawn up, or the ball was put in the wrong player’s hands. Handling clutch situations is quite the concern, but hopefully with future experience will bring scenarios where, if given the keys, Saunders will eventually learn to execute effectively.
Other Head Coaching Candidates are Available
Numerous names are floating around for potential head coach hires. One name particular that has created buzz over the past few days is Minnesota native Dave Joerger. During his last season in Sacramento, De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield had their best seasons. This helped result in the Kings’ best record since the 2005-2006 season at 39-43, nearly missing out on the playoffs. This might be the only competition. Many Wolves fans and analysts have pointed to the Minnesota native to have a possible stake in the Wolves’ head coaching vacancy, but only time will tell.
If you’re looking for my opinion, I’m leaning towards Ryan Saunders getting that Interim tag removed and becoming the next head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Not only do the fans and players have his back, but the social media posts that broke out saying that Saunders would be hired (before being quickly withdrawn) signal towards the move. This alone makes it almost feel like a shoe-in. It’s difficult to gauge what he’s truly capable of, as he dealt with the player injuries for 42 games. I’d like to see him get a fair shot with a healthy roster. The shorthanded Wolves certainly didn’t produce many wins under his tenure, but they fought hard regardless and showed serious heart. They even surprised many fans with impressive wins over the likes of the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors. It leads me to believe things could be different when the team is at full health. We hope that the Wolves will do their due diligence and not settle on the first option. Either way, our group still hopes for the best for the franchise, regardless of who is appointed as head coach moving forward.
By: Dan Slaubaugh
The Minnesota Timberwolves are playing good basketball.
Since the start of play on February 11, they have won four of their past five games. Karl-Anthony Towns is playing like a man who wants an additional 32 million on his max extension (which he will earn if he makes an All-NBA team), Tyus Jones has given them a nice boost since his return, Anthony Tolliver has been Mr. Automatic from deep, and Luol Deng has rose from the ashes to give the Wolves a productive backup wing in the absence of Robert Covington.
Speaking of that man! RoCo is close to returning and currently getting his legs back underneath him practicing with the Timberwolves’ G-League affiliate Iowa Wolves. He will likely return to the NBA hardwood by the end of the week.
Getting Covington back for one last playoff push will be huge and it’s hard not to be excited about his return. When healthy, he impacts the game on both ends like nobody’s business covering up mistakes on defense and providing sharpshooting ability from the perimeter.
Three games behind the Spurs with 21 games to play, the 29-31 Wolves do have a chance, maybe even better than the 5.2 percent the computers at ESPN BPI's playoff odds give them.
So, what will it take for the Wolves to get there?
Win the games you should win
Out of the remaining 21 games, there are only 4 “gimmes” left on the schedule. That includes tonight’s road game at Atlanta, one home and away versus Washington, and a home versus New York. If you want to include games against bad-but-not-terrible teams in Charlotte, Memphis, and Dallas, then there’s seven. But after following the Wolves extensively for a decade now I can’t seem to automatically chalk those up as wins.
Going 6-1 here seems probably necessary.
Stand your ground
The remaining slate is pretty brutal for the Wolves. 15 of the remaining 21 games are versus current playoff teams. The good news, at least, is that eight of those games will be played in the Target Center confines along with two road games at Detroit and Charlotte. That’s 10 out of 15 games that are at home and/or winnable. Going 9-6 here seems probably necessary.
If Minnesota keeps winning and inches closer to a playoff spot, it will be interesting to see if Wolves fans respond and pack Target Center for the final stretch.
As every team needs when fighting for playoff seeding, the Wolves need help from anyone playing the Clippers, Spurs, Kings, and Lakers the rest of the way.
A deeper look at their remaining schedules, color-coated by games corresponding to the level of difficulty (via Reddit’s u/beefrombeemovie).
The good news is the Spurs are struggling right now. The bad news is the Kings aren't. The win over Sacramento Monday night was huge for closing the gap on them, but I still think they're a tad better than Minnesota right now. The Kings making it over the Wolves wouldn't be so bad. They are wildly entertaining, employ a head coach with Minnesota roots, and their fans deserve it.
From what we've seen recently, the Lakers don't deserve to make the playoffs and LeBron James' "activate playoff mode" switch doesn't appear to be working at the moment. Overall, it should be really interesting to see where these teams end up when the fat lady sings.
7. Clippers - 34-28 - +1 GB
8. Spurs - 33-29
9. Kings - 31-29 - 1 GB
10. Wolves - 29-31 - 3 GB
11. Lakers - 29-31 - 3GB
Long term, it'd likely be better for the Wolves to lose more than win the rest of the season as a top 10 draft pick could prove to be a game-changer for the future. However, it's undeniably more fun to root for the playoffs and earn a bid to get walloped in the first round (why that's more fun, I don't know). Whether that’s the wise choice of action or not, that’s what I’ll be doing the remainder of the season. The quest to 44 wins, which might just do it, begins now!
Thanks for reading. Have a wonderful Wednesday. Go Wolves.
By: Brian Simonson
The NBA Trade Deadline has passed, and once again the Minnesota Timberwolves were quiet throughout the process. Andrew Wiggins is frustrating fans more and more with each passing game through his lack of work ethic and questionable decision making on the court while earning a max deal. Key rotation players continue to be held out due to injuries. Luol Deng is starting games. The Wolves complete their most recent road trip in extremely disappointing fashion with a 0-4 road trip to mediocre teams, with the exception of the Denver Nuggets.
Following the road trip, Dario Saric makes the switch to starter, which results in the Wolves closing out their final home stretch before the All-Star Break with impressive wins over the LA Clippers and the Houston Rockets; both Western Conference playoff candidates.
In summary, everyone is uncertain on which Timberwolves team will show up on a nightly basis. Everyone is also uncertain about what the future holds after the season. Their record is currently at 27-30, which is four games out from the 8th seed in the Western Conference with three teams to jump. They are not looking like serious playoff contenders at this point in the season unless they go on a serious run. They also are not mediocre enough to land a high lottery pick in the upcoming draft. Looking past the season, there is little room with their cap space, and they have few assets, meaning less opportunity to make significant trades or free agent signings that push the franchise in the right direction for the long term. Everything feels...stuck.
What should Minnesota fans make of this? How do you output value with the remaining 25 games? How do you set your franchise up to sustain long term success past the season and avoid an Anthony Davis-esque situation with Karl Anthony Towns? Where do we go from here?
If you’ve been a Timberwolves fan for any period of the franchise’s 30-year existence, then you are no stranger to these roller coaster situations.
There is a large and growing laundry list for the Timberwolves to start addressing these questions, so we’ve centralized a summary of objectives and thoughts that we feel should be on everyone’s radar for the team moving forward:
CHECKLIST FOR REMAINDER OF THE SEASON:
• Give your young players experience – Typically, the Wolves drafts picks turn to busts, but they got one right in the 2018 NBA draft by landing Josh Okogie with their first-round pick. Okogie is getting valuable experience through extended minutes and seizing a starting position while there are injuries on the team. His efforts on the floor earned him a spot in the All-Star Weekend. While his defense has improved as of late, his offensive decision making still requires work. Okogie will continue to make rookie mistakes. Continue to groom him and he will learn to further understand the game through his minutes. 2018 Big Ten Player of the Year Keita Bates-Diop has rarely seen minutes since being called up from the G-League. See what the young players have to contribute rather than waste it. Perhaps their skills can be leveraged while on very cheap contracts. Since the Wolves can’t make serious splashes elsewhere, their best bet is to develop the core through their young talent.
• See what you have with Dario Saric – Dario Saric has become quite comfortable with his new starting role, and the Wolves have won the two recent games by 10 with him there. The team’s offensive rating in those games jumped from a 109.8 average for the season to 126.8 with Saric in the lineup (not to mention Luol Deng was also starting). Dario likes to start and Taj Gibson is OK with the switch. He is someone to keep an eye out for to stay in this spot long term, especially with a cost-friendly contract with two years remaining and Taj Gibson entering free agency. After Saric’s sample size with starting increases, there will be a better outlook on whether or not it will be a fit.
• Continue to evaluate Andrew Wiggins – Wolves fans are finally fed up with his lack of consistency and inability to take the next step in his craft after five seasons. It’s time for ownership and the coaching staff to start making Wiggins accountable, or perhaps the action item is to find a way to move his contract. Some people suggest that he is moved to the bench. Notice how the team has played well without him in the lineup due to illness? There are many questions surrounding Wiggins, but the best strategy at this point is hoping that we get the best version of Wiggins possible on a nightly basis.
CHECKLIST AFTER THE SEASON ENDS:
• Find your GM – With Scott Layden being one of the remaining front office members stemming from the Thibodeau era, it’s unlikely he’ll be retained past the offseason.
• Find your Head Coach/Giving Ryan Saunders a legit chance – While Saunders’ record as head coach is currently 8-9, there’s plenty of reason to give him a real chance at the position long term. Six of those losses were decided by five points or less; and mind you, the Wolves have been severely depleted. The Wolves can hang despite its injuries and miscues, and it is certainly reasonable to believe that when at full health, Saunders can build the team chemistry to output a solid performance on the court. Saunders connects with the players at a human level, which is something we did not see with Tom Thibodeau, and the players play for him. It will be an objective to monitor team performance when his players are finally at full health, and then decide if he is the one to run the position moving forward.
• Nail your draft picks – The franchise has historically been poor at drafting high-level talent through the draft (see Ndudi Ebi, Johnny Flynn, Wesley Johnson, Derrick Williams, etc.). With little cap room for the foreseeable future, the Wolves’ best option is to get their picks right in order to create a pool of potential assets or core players. This subject derives from why most fans want to see the team miss the playoffs, and try their hand at better positioning in the draft.
• Address your point guard situation (free agency) – All four point guards on the Wolves’ roster are on expiring contracts and will hit the free agent market this offseason. Jeff Teague has a player option, and many expect him to pick it up. Tyus Jones has been a very effective backup. Jerryd Bayless has held his own during team injuries. Derrick Rose has provided a veteran voice and is a scoring punch off the bench. Along with addressing the point guards and Anthony Tolliver, take a look at the list of mid-level free agents for this upcoming offseason.
• Ensure KAT’s happiness w/ franchise – This is the most important task in the list for this franchise. Karl Anthony Towns is the franchise for the long term, and the accumulation of the above action items correlate directly with his happiness.
The biggest question for fans and the franchise at the moment is deciding whether or not a 2019 playoff berth is worth it. Glen Taylor wants playoffs; fans want to tank. While a deep postseason run is quite unlikely, regardless of the outcome, there is little room for error with the front office and must make sure they nail every move that is made moving forward to ensure a bright future for the franchise and keeping their star player KAT happy.
By: Jonah Sprinkel
The Minnesota Timberwolves are interestingly unique. 10 days ago, they were dismantled by Philadelphia and their former leader, General Soreness. This was followed by a close loss to San Antonio. The team then won home-and-away games over Phoenix, one on a Derrick Rose near buzzer beater and the other in a blowout. Last night’s favorable result over the Lakers was all but a sure thing until mid-way through the fourth quarter. Oh, and Jerryd Bayless has logged nearly 60 minutes of play time in the last two games. Just like everyone predicted when the Wolves traded for him, Bayless has balled out in his increased role. The Wolves have an inverted home-and-away stand up next, this time against another former leader, Ricky Rubio and the Utah Jazz.
Game #1 – 1/25
What: Wolves @ Jazz
When: 8:00 PM CT
Where: Vivent Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
Where to watch: Fox Sports North
Where to listen: 830 AM WCCO
Game #2 - 1/27
What: Jazz @ Wolves
When: 6:00 PM CT
Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Where to watch: Fox Sports North
Where to listen: 830 AM WCCO
Towns vs. Gobert: Karl-Anthony Towns has a reputation for struggling against large, some would say traditional, big men. Oddly enough, Rudy Gobert is not one of these players. In 11 matchups dating back to his rookie year, Towns is averaging just over 21 points on a 53/42/89 split and 11.5 rebounds. The Wolves have only won three of those games. The stats are nice, but Towns will need to elevate his game if the Wolves are to continue building on their three-game win streak.
A very chippy history:
A point guard problem: Derrick Rose left the Laker game with an ankle injury and did not return. Tyus Jones won’t be ready for at least a couple more games. Jeff Teague spent the Laker game in street clothes, it is unknown if he will play against Utah tonight. If Teague does not go, the Wolves would be left with Bayless and Jared Terrell, a two-way player. Supposing Teague does play, it’s safe to assume he won’t be 100%. The flexibility of the Jazz’s ball handlers was already going to be an issue for the Wolves defense. Their current point guard situation makes for a taller task.
Minnesota: PG Jerryd Bayless, SG Josh Okogie, SF Andrew Wiggins, PF Taj Gibson, C Karl-Anthony Towns
Utah: PG Ricky Rubio, SG Donovan Mitchell, SF Joe Ingles, PF Derrick Favors, C Rudy Gobert
Minnesota: Tyus Jones – OUT, Robert Covington – OUT, Derrick Rose – Day-to-day, Jeff Teague – Day-to-day
Utah: Raul Neto – OUT, Thabo Sefolosha – OUT, Dante Exum – OUT, Tony Bradley – OUT
The Jazz are currently a playoff team and the third best defense in the league by the defensive rating metric. The Wolves are not in a playoff position and retain a league average offense. The Jazz are at home and favored by 11 tonight. Wolves lose, 115-102.
By: Seth Toupal
With just under three weeks left before the NBA Trade Deadline, the Minnesota Timberwolves have some interesting decisions they will have to make. The Wolves are 22-24, 10 games behind Golden State for the top spot in the Western Conference and three games out of the final playoff spot in the West. Since Tom Thibodeau was fired the Wolves are 3-3, and they are frankly running out of time to make a move into the top of the West.
Is it possible that they make a run and climb into the playoffs? Certainly. Is it also possible that the Wolves continue to tread water and end up missing out on the playoffs entirely? Absolutely. So what do at the trade deadline? Do they add? Do they deal expiring contracts? Scott Layden is likely GM-ing for his job and as a result, will probably approach the deadline as if the team has to make the playoffs. The Wolves are really not in much of a situation to add salary without getting rid of some of their big contracts. But having said that, there are some players who could yield something in return if they were dealt. What will Layden do? The answers to those questions could come down to the final few days before the deadline, so we will focus on what they SHOULD do. We will start by looking at the trade status of everyone on the roster.
Karl-Anthony Towns. This is a fairly easy one. Towns isn't going anywhere despite those weird rumors before the season that Towns would end up being dealt and the odd man out in the power struggle between him, Jimmy Butler, and Tom Thibodeau. Well, Towns was the winner of that situation so as a result, he has the most solid footing of anyone in the organization. There are few players, if any, that would merit a trade with Towns, who seems to be starting to make some strides defensively to compliment his offensive repertoire. Towns also is the most likely player to survive a coach/GM change this offseason if Ryan Saunders doesn't pan out long term.
SHOULD BE KEPT:
Josh Okogie. Okogie has provided a tremendous spark defensively when on the court for the Wolves. His offense has been a work in progress but we knew that coming into the season. For a team who has struggled tremendously on defense but has Karl-Anthony Towns as their focal point on offense, Okogie can continue to work on his offensive game provided he is staying engaged and active on the defensive end. I am intrigued enough by what I've seen from Okogie in his rookie year that I think he should be kept. But if the Wolves have bigger trade aspirations in mind, Okogie would be a very attractive trade chip so he doesn't slide into my "untouchable" category.
Robert Covington. Covington provided an immediate spark for the Wolves when he came to Minnesota. He has been out of the lineup since December 31st and the Wolves have felt his absence significantly. Covington isn't a franchise cornerstone but he is a very good complimentary piece on a playoff team. His contract is very affordable the next few years and so it won't hurt the Wolves as much as some of the other contracts they are currently carrying. I would be in favor of the Wolves holding onto Covington and adding further complimentary pieces around him and Towns and the rest of the roster.
Dario Saric. Saric came to the Wolves in the Jimmy Butler trade, but the results for him have been extremely up and down. He has had some big games and some others where his performance hasn't measured up. But one thing Saric has that makes him an intriguing prospect for the Wolves is his youth. At 24 years old he has shown some promising aspects to his game. It just so happens that his playing time has been reduced by the likes of Taj Gibson, Anthony Tolliver, and Gorgui Dieng. If some of those players are traded or allowed to leave via free agency then Saric can start to benefit from an increase in minutes. At that point, we can get a better idea of what he can fully bring to the table and he should be given the opportunity to start next to Towns. If things don't pan out at that point then you can look at trying to move him, but for now, there is enough intrigue from Saric to warrant keeping him around.
Tyus Jones. Tyus is another player who would benefit from more minutes but is partially blocked by both Derrick Rose and Jeff Teague. Tyus is a smart and savvy point guard when he is on the floor, He does a great job of running the offense and is great at getting steals. Jones recently suffered an ankle injury so he won't be in uniform for a while, but he makes a ton of sense as the backup point guard for this team after the season. Will an opportunity come around for Tyus to start elsewhere? The Wolves may solve that problem by inserting him in as starter after this year and focusing resources elsewhere with a veteran backup. Either way, Tyus should stay.
WOULD BE HARD TO TRADE:
Andrew Wiggins. There are a few reasons as to why Andrew Wiggins would be a difficult player to move. The first is his uninspiring play and the second is his max contract. The Wolves would have to entice someone to take on his deal with either draft pick compensation, cash thrown in and or both of those options. Wiggins might be a player who would benefit from a change of scenery. It could be as simple as the Wolves holding him to a standard as big as his contract, but that hasn't seemed to work so far this year. I would be shocked if he was dealt but a new coach and GM next year may decide that they need to move on. For now though, Wiggins and his contract aren't going anywhere.
Gorgui Dieng. Gorgui is another player who has a contract that would require some assistance to move in the way of cash or draft picks. Dieng is further along in his deal which makes his contract more appealing than Andrew Wiggins, but at this point, Dieng would be added to help shore up bench depth for a contending team. He has started in the past at power forward, and his ability to play the 4 or 5 would give him some added value. My guess is that Dieng is more likely to be moved in the offseason when the Wolves can maybe sneak in as a 3rd team in a big trade to help offset large salaries although I don't think it is likely under any circumstances that Gorgui is traded.
SHOULD BE TRADED:
Derrick Rose. Rose is having quite the comeback season for the Wolves. His value as an elite scoring option should make him a hot commodity at the deadline. Several teams in both conferences are dealing with injuries and inconsistencies at guard. Rose was shooting a career-high from three-point range up until recently but can still hit from deep and can play both point guard and off ball as well. The Wolves should look to deal Rose for a young player at the deadline, as even though Rose is having a great year he would not warrant a high draft pick in return. Get a young player with upside and hand the backup point guard keys over to Tyus when he returns from injury.
Anthony Tolliver. Tolliver has started to see more minutes since Tom Thibodeau was fired and this is good for his value as the deadline approaches. While his numbers haven't looked all that good, he is shooting 37 percent from deep and averaging just under 19 minutes a game in January. This proves he can still be a reliable veteran off the bench and as a result, the Wolves should see if they can get anything for him at the deadline. Tolliver also could provide some veteran presence for a young team that is trying to make the playoffs, and there are a few of those that come to mind right now.
Jeff Teague. Teague has been a very up and down player for the Wolves since he came to Minnesota. Teague could provide a veteran presence to a team lacking that at point guard and has been a good facilitator despite his offensive struggles. The biggest question for dealing Teague is his price tag. $19 million is not a number that many teams are equipped to absorb in a trade, so the Wolves would again have to add something in to make a trade worthwhile. Unless it is part of an absolute blockbuster where a large salary would be needed to even out numbers being exchanged, my guess is Teague plays out the duration of his contract in Minnesota.
Taj Gibson. Gibson would be another good veteran presence for a playoff team. His cap number would prevent some teams from acquiring him but an expiring contract in return could help offset this. The question is would Taj want to leave? He will have an opportunity to start the rest of the season for the Wolves and those minutes might not be as available on a playoff contender. Taj is a free agent at the end of the season and could be brought back as a veteran backup. I'm not sure what the Wolves could get back in return for Taj in a trade, but again he could theoretically be included in a bigger trade to help make salaries match up. I will lean towards him staying and then coming back in a lesser role next year.
Jerryd Bayless and Keita Bates-Diop haven't played enough this year to factor into any of these categories. We really have no idea if KBD is a player who could provide meaningful minutes as part of the rotation because he hasn't been given the opportunity. Bayless has too big of a cap hit to justify him being dealt anywhere especially with him being a free agent at the end of the year. Scott Layden has some big decisions ahead of him. Not only does he have to look out for his future but he has to decide what is best for the Wolves going forward. And as the Wolves continue to alternate between wins and losses, it becomes increasingly likely that more changes are coming to this Wolves team.
Seth is the host of The Scoop on KLGR Radio out of Redwood Falls, Minnesota. Listen to episodes of The Scoop here