By: Dan Slaubaugh
It's safe to say that new Minnesota Timberwolves front office members Tom Thibodeau and Scott Layden have their work cut out for them in the upcoming months, which will play a big part in what the Wolves roster looks like heading into training camp.
Here's what Minnesota's summer schedule looks like:
May 17: NBA Draft Lottery (ESPN, 8PM EST)
June 23: NBA Draft (ESPN, 7PM EST)
July 1: Teams can start negotiating with players, but can't officially sign until July 8
July 2: NBA Summer League Begins
July 18: NBA Summer League ends
Yeah. It's about to get craaazyy.
Now, let's analyze what each event means to the Timberwolves.
NBA Draft Lottery
The Timberwolves are in unique position regarding this year's Draft Lottery. They have a 29.2% chance of landing a top 3 pick, and an 8.8% chance of landing the #1 overall pick. While a 29.1% chance at landing a top 3 pick isn't great odds, it is definitely a possible and realistic chance the Wolves could move up. Go ahead. Find a 6-numbered dice. Pick two numbers, and roll it. That's neighboring the same odds the Wolves have at landing a top 3 pick.
If the Wolves do in fact land one of the first three selections, the likeliness of them trading it decreases significantly. If a top two pick falls into Minnesota's lap, it is all but certain Thibodeau will use it to select Ben Simmons (PF, LSU) or Brandon Ingram (SF, Duke), who are the consensus top choices in this draft class.
Here are the draft odds the Wolves have of landing each of the picks 1-8. (It is not possible for them to drop out of the top eight due of their bottom five finish.)
1st pick: 8.8%
2nd pick: 9.7%
3rd pick : 10.7%
4th pick: 0%
5th pick: 26.1%
6th pick: 36.0%
7th pick: 8.4%
8th pick: 0.4%
When this day arrives, we'll likely know if Thibodeau will utilize the (for sure) top eight pick to actually draft a player, as rumors have already begun swirling suggesting the Wolves could trade their first round selection.
I could go through players that the Wolves should look at drafting, but we don't even know where the Wolves will be positioned yet, so it's pretty much a waste of time. No need to worry though. I'm 100% positive there will be a significant amount of coverage about the topic among the many Timberwolves media outlets (along with ours) leading up to draft day.
Free Agency Period
The biggest needs for the Wolves currently are frontcourt depth and a reliable perimeter shooter. There is a good chance Thibodeau will shore up one of those needs through the draft or by trading their pick for an established player. With that, it is probable that they will use free agency to shore up the roster need they didn't fill beforehand.
Personally, I believe the Wolves should stay away from offering anyone more than a three-year contract (Kevin Durant aside). My reason is very similar to what was written at TimberRebuilder, who gave their input on this exact subject.
"Thibodeau has said the Wolves will acquire players that align with the trajectory of the current roster. So this leads me to believe that whatever player that is signed/ traded for either is young enough to grow with the Wolves or old enough to contribute for two seasons max and fall off the books before the slew of contract extensions begin. This is precisely why I don’t believe Al Horford is the guy for the job."
Thibodeau's long-term goal should be to maximize the roster talent and potential of this team once LaVine, Wiggins and Towns hit their prime. Keep that in mind once the free agency period begins.
For more information on potential free agent candidates, check out Lucas Seehafer's (Canis Hoopus) newest mailbag.
NBA Summer League
If the Wolves use their pick to select a player in the top 10, the summer league games will be fun and entertaining to watch for us fans as we get to see our new young star in his first professional action.
However, if Minnesota doesn't add a member of the 2016 draft class in the top eight, there might not be much to cover at this year's summer league as the Timberwolves don't own a second round pick. That is, if Thibodeau doesn't send Tyus Jones or Adreian Payne to Las Vegas, which is a distinct possibility.
On Payne: I can't see Thibodeau being very patient with him. With that said, he will probably be in favor of entertaining any and all trade offers for Payne. If a trade isn't possible, Thibs may want to send him to Vegas -- unless he and Layden think he's so bad that by playing him it will only hurt his trade value.
The next couple of months will be a flurry for the Timberwolves organization and their fans. With the NBA Draft, Free Agency period and Summer League play all on the agenda, fans will be well entertained as they gear up for another exciting season of Timberwolves basketball. It's a season that could ultimately bring Minnesota out of its 12-year playoff drought. First order of business, though, is assembling the roster that can accomplish the feat.