Year-Round News & Updates on the Minnesota Timberwolves
If it's up to Kyrie Irving, he's played his last game for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Reports surfaced this afternoon that the star point guard who has been to three-consecutive NBA finals no longer wants to play with LeBron James (he may be the only player in the League).
In all honesty, it makes sense in two different scenarios. Number one: he is tired of playing second fiddle to LBJ and wants a chance to lead a team -- like he was promised when he signed that five-year extension back in 2014 just weeks before LeBron returned to Cleveland.
Number two: Kyrie knows that the Cavaliers are on the brink of implosion. GM David Griffin is no longer there and LeBron won't be hanging around much longer.
Considering the lack of moves the Cavaliers have made this summer, it makes sense that Kyrie sees the writing on the wall and knows that if there was ever a time to get out of town, this summer may be his only option until 2019.
The Cavaliers have handcuffed themselves. They have a lot of high-quality players, however since Kevin Durant took his talents to the Bay -- they simply can't match up with the NBA's elite. To clarify, the NBA's elite is Golden State and only Golden State.
So, with all that said, how does this pertain to Minnesota? Well, the Timberwolves were listed as one of four preferred landing spots for the all-star point guard.
The others include Miami, New York, and San Antonio. It was reported late Friday afternoon, however that New York is not on the list of preferred landing spots. While it's incredible to see one of the NBA's premier players interested in suiting up for the Minnesota Timberwolves, it is highly unlikely to happen.
First of all, the Cleveland Cavaliers have no ultimatum to trade Irving. He's under contract for the next two years. Ultimately, the Cavaliers could hold on to Kyrie, when LeBron may walk. Then, the Cavs can fulfill that promise they made to Irving when he signed his extension.
I highly doubt that the Cavaliers are going to be able to find a deal that makes financial sense, while also netting them quality in return.
What could the Timberwolves realistically offer? They can't trade any of the free agents that they have signed until December 15th (Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson, and Jamal Crawford). A deal centered around Andrew Wiggins would likely be a starting point to get the two sides talking. Jimmy Butler isn't going anywhere and Karl-Anthony Towns is absolutely untouchable. Add to the fact that Jeff Teague can't be traded until mid-December, which means that if a deal was reached, the two would likely have to share a backcourt with one another. Not exactly ideal.
That being said, Kyrie Irving is one of the most talented players in the NBA and netting him would undoubtedly make the Timberwolves contenders, a near-guarantee that they would make the Western Conference Finals.
Stay tuned for HOWL for all the updates!
According to Adrian Wojnarowski, multiple teams have contacted the Minnesota Timberwolves with interest in third-year swingman Shabazz Muhammad.
While it's unclear what teams are interested in Muhammad, the Wolves have no interest in moving the 23-year-old Shabazz.
The Timberwolves do have a number of wings on the roster: Andrew Wiggins, Tayshaun Prince, Kevin Martin, Damjan Rudez, Zach LaVine and Nemanja Bjelica.
It is more than likely that the Wolves would be willing to move a player like Kevin Martin at some point this season--especially if it nets them a young player to add to their core, or a veteran that better fits with this team moving forward.
As Muhammad continues to prove his worth, it is highly likely that his role continues to increase for this young team. It is clear that he is seen as an integral part of this young core that features Andrew Wiggins & Karl-Anthony Towns at the forefront. Muhammad is part of that second tier with LaVine and Gorgui Dieng as key pieces moving forward.
Shabazz, the 14th overall pick in the 2013 Draft, is under contract for just under $2.1 million for this season and just over $3million next season. He also has a qualifying offer for the 2017-18 season for roughly $4million.
2013-14 Stats: 3.9 points, 1.4 rebounds, 0.2 assists, 0.2 steals, 0.0 blocks, .460 FG%, .273
3PT%, .650 FT%, in 37 games (0 starts), 7.8 minutes
2014-15 Stats: 13.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.2 blocks, .489 FG%, .392
3PT%, .717 FT%, in 38 games (13 starts), 22.8 minutes
2015-16 Stats: 8.0 points, 2.6 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.1 steals, 0.1 blocks, .462 FG%, .258
3PT%, .762 FT%, in 20 games (0 starts), 17.6 minutes
Karl-Anthony Towns was named the Western Conference Rookie of the Month this past week for games played in October and November.
Towns was second among rookies in scoring with 14.4 points and led rookies with 9.4 rebounds, 2.18 blocks and shooting 86.7% from the free-throw line. KAT was also third in field-goal percentage at 52.6%. Towns had 8 doubles-doubles, including 6 in his first 8 games. This was higlighted by a 28-point, 14-rebound victory over Denver (his second career game) on October 30th.
Towns also had an impressive outing in a win over the Heat with 14 points, 14 rebounds, and two steals as well as 21 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 blocks in a three-point overtime loss vs. the Orlando Magic.
Kristaps Porzingis, the fourth overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft was also named the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month after posting 13.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 1.89 blocks, while also adding 8 double-doubles, highlighted by a 29-point, 11-rebound win on November 17th vs. the Charlotte Hornets and a 24-point, 14-rebound, 7-block outing in a win over the Houston Rockets.
Other nominees for Western/Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Brooklyn), Emmanuel Mudiay (Denver), Stanley Johnson (Detroit), D'Angelo Russell (LA Lakers), Justise Winslow (Miami), T.J. McConnell (Philadelphia), and Jahlil Okafor (Philadelphia).
A report from the Star Tribune had Tayshaun Prince quoted recently saying that he was surprised that he was Minnesota's starting small forward.
Sam Mitchell has elected to go with Rubio, Wiggins, Prince, Garnett, and Towns as his starting five through the first three games of the season. With Prince & Garnett the Wolves sacrifice some offense, but it's quite clear what they provide on the defensive side of the ball.
It remains to be seen if Prince will hold on to that starting role throughout the season, but it's clear that, that combination is working as a starting group.
Prince knows there will be nights he'll play 10-12 minutes and others where he'll be asked to play 30+ minutes. For Tayshaun, it's all about doing whatever the team needs him to do.
Through three games Prince is averaging 2.0 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 1.0 assist in 21.3 minutes per game.
When it was first announced that Flip Saunders had been diagnosed with a very treatable form of Hodgkins Lymphoma, it seemed as though he'd likely miss an extended period of time and the hope was that he'd be back patrolling the sidelines in the very near future.
Unfortunately, today we all have to say goodbye to the man that will go down as the man responsible for getting the ailing Wolves franchise back on track.
It was announced Sunday afternoon that at the age of 60, Flip Saunders had passed away. This coming just a couple days after a story came out in the Star Tribune by Jerry Zgoda that quoted Glen Taylor in saying that Flip definitely wouldn't coach this season. Obviously his condition had worsened in the past week.
This certainly leaves the Wolves with some big question marks for their future. Sam Mitchell has been named interim coach and Milt Newton has taken over managerial duties as the team's GM. It is very likely that they will continue in those roles this season, but the Wolves will most likely be going through another transition this offseason.
The Timberwolves lost an integral part of their rebuilding plan. People lost a friend, a husband, a father, a coach, a great NBA mind, and from all the great things you hear about Flip--an even greater man.
There's no doubt that everyone will be rooting for the Wolves to finally turn things around this season!
It has been a couple weeks since it was announced that Flip Saunders would miss (at least) part of the season after there were further complications with his treatment for Hogkins Lymphoma. As a result, assistant coach and former Coach of the Year (with Toronto) Sam Mitchell was named interim head coach.
It was announced today that Mitchell will almost definitely be head coach for the entire 2015-16 season because Saunders won't be returning to the court this season. Unfortunately, Saunders' situation has taken a turn for the worst and his condition is now life-threatening.
This means that while Mitchell handles the head coaching duties, general manager Milt Newton will handle the day-to-day operations as the boss in the front office.
Looking beyond this season is hard to do because a lot of Minnesota's future in head coach and the President of Basketball Operations depends on the status of Flip Saunders.
Training camp is underway and Minnesota's first game of the season is just around the corner, stay tuned for more.
Canadian forward and former Wolf Anthony Bennett officially cleared waivers this weekend and signed a one-year deal with the Toronto Raptors for the veteran's minimum.
He'll have a chance to carve out minutes behind starter Patrick Patterson on the depth chart.
For Minnesota, buying out Anthony Bennett clears space in their crowded front court with Kevin Garnett, Karl-Anthony Towns, Gorgui Dieng, Nikola Pekovic, Nemanja Bjelica, and Adriean Payne.
The Wolves now have 15 guaranteed contracts heading into training camp this coming week: Ricky Rubio, Andre Miller, Tyus Jones, Kevin Martin, Zach LaVine, Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad, Tayshaun Prince, Damjan Rudez, Kevin Garnett, Nemanja Bjelica, Adriean Payne, Karl-Anthony Towns, Gorgui Dieng, and Nikola Pekovic.
Media day is tomorrow (Monday, 9/28) for the Timberwolves and that means practices and preseason games are just around the corner! Stay tuned!
UPDATE: The Timberwolves reportedly bought out Bennett's $5.8 million contract for $3.6 million. If another team claims him off of waivers, the Wolves won't owe him any money, however if he clears waivers and becomes and UFA the Wolves will pay that $3.6 million.
After one season, the Minnesota Timberwolves and forward Anthony Bennett will be parting ways. It was announced on Tuesday afternoon that the Timberwolves had reached an agreement on a buyout with Bennett.
Anthony Bennett initially joined the Timberwolves last summer in the trade that sent Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers and landed the Wolves Andrew Wiggins, Thaddeus Young, Anthony Bennett, and a first-round pick.
This came after a year spent with the Cavaliers in a rookie campaign that was plagued by injuries, inconsistencies in play, and playing time--despite the fact that he was playing on a Cavalier squad that would finish the season with just 33 wins.
Bennett was selected #1 overall in the 2013 NBA Draft, much to the surprise of...everyone. Some teams had him in his top-five, while others barely had him in their top-ten.
During his rookie campaign he posted putrid numbers thanks in large part to being overweight and his injuries. He finished the season with averages of 12.8 minutes, 3.0 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.2 blocks, 4.2 points on .356 FG%, .245 3PT%, .390 2PT%, .638 FT% in 52 games (0 starts).
A change of scenery was definitely needed, especially with Kevin Love joining the Cavaliers and Tristan Thompson firmly entrenched as a primary player ahead of Bennett. As such, Bennett joined the Timberwolves looking for a fresh start.
In his lone season with Minnesota, he upped his averages in every category, though that isn't exactly impressive. He finished 2014-15 averaging 15.7 minutes, 3.8 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.3 blocks, 5.2 points on .421 FG%, .304 3PT%, .431 2PT%, .641 FT% in 57 games (3 starts).
With so many new faces in Minnesota, the logjam at power forward means that he wouldn't have too many opportunities to carve out playing time or a role with Minnesota this season. The Wolves added Karl-Anthony Towns with the first overall pick and Euroleague MVP Nemanja Bjelica. They also re-signed Kevin Garnett and they have Adriean Payne, Gorgui Dieng, and Nikola Pekovic in their frontcourt.
Bennett is now on waivers and there is a small chance that a team could claim him and his $5.8 million salary for the season. The more likely scenario is that he clears waivers within the next 48 hours and becomes an unrestricted free agent. If that happens, it is likely that an NBA team will bring him on (on a training camp deal, at least). Bennett needs to prove to an NBA team that he is coachable, can stay healthy, and perhaps, most importantly, stay in shape. I'd say there's a very good chance that Bennett lands with an NBA team somewhere...whether or not he'll be able to salvage his NBA career...that remains to be seen.
For the Wolves, they are now down to 15 guaranteed contracts for the season, heading into training camp next month.
Complications with the treatment Flip Saunders is receiving for his cancer has placed him in the hospital. As a result, he will be taking an extended break from his duties as both head coach and as President of Basketball Operations.
In his stead, the Wolves are turning to former Coach of the Year Sam Mitchell. Mitchell was officially named the interim head coach on Friday morning and from the sounds of it, he'll likely hold that role for at least half of the season.
General Manager Milt Newton will take over day-to-day responsibilities in the front office. He'll be tasked with adding a few more players to the training camp roster and making a decision before the season begins on the final 15-man roster, which will involved either a trade or two, and/or one or two players being waived.
Owner Glen Taylor says that he doesn't want any of the staff or players bothering Flip while he's hospitalized, though it's more than likely that Milt will communicate via text with Saunders with questions/decisions, etc.
Both Newton & Mitchell ensure that they fully intend to continue what Saunders has done up to this point and to carry out his vision for this team, just as he would.
Nabbing the top spot in June's draft was one of the handful of moves the Wolves made this offseason.
For the past few years, a guarded optimism has been buzzing in the Twin Cities. It was at a real high during Kevin Love's final two seasons in Minnesota.
Once Kevin Love was shipped off to Cleveland, the fanbase understood that it would be a tough year. However, among the team, they legitimately believed they could sneak into the playoffs. Had the squad stayed healthy, could a veteran core of Rubio, Martin, Thaddeus Young, and Nikola Pekovic mesh with the young guns: LaVine, Wiggins, Muhammad, Payne, and Dieng; and return to the postseason?
Now, Karl-Anthony Towns joins Andrew Wiggins and a Timberwolves franchise that is ready to make some noise in the Western Conference.
If the Wolves can stay healthy, I legitimately believe they'll be in the thick of the 7-8 seed race in the West. If Flip Saunders can figure out how to incorporate the new guys, while keeping his veterans healthy, the Wolves could get to that 40-win mark.
A 40-win mark wouldn't be enough in the loaded Western Conference, however it doesn't matter much, because I honestly believe the Wolves will likely finish with about 30 wins. Which means, I don't believe that all these pieces are instantly going to gel and mesh. These Wolves are still young and their will still be some growing pains.
In addition to selecting Towns with the first overall pick, the Wolves also swung a trade with the Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers sending them the 31st & 36th picks in the draft for the 24th selection, whom they selected Minnesota native Tyus Jones.
Jones is still very raw and I'm one of many who believe he probably should've stayed at Duke for another season. Nonetheless, he's playing for his hometown Wolves and there are plenty of fans, players, and front office members who are excited to have him.
The Wolves are still seeking depth at point guard. As of right now, they have Jones (best suited as a 3rd string PG) and Lorenzo Brown (could be a 2nd string PG, though his consistency would be a glaring concern). The Wolves have been linked to veteran point guards like Mario Chalmers, Kendall Marshall, and Andre Miller. In order to sign Marshall or Miller, they would have to waive someone, with Brown or newly acquired forward Damjan Rudez being the most likely candidates.
Speaking of Damjan Rudez: the Wolves traded Chase Budinger to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for Damjan Rudez. Rudez is a versatile forward who would likely be best categorized as a stretch four. He'll go to training camp with Minnesota, but I don't think they'd hesitate to trade or waive him, with their loaded front court and logjam on the wings.
Speaking on those logjams...let's take at a projected depth chart for these 2015-16 Wolves...
PG: Ricky Rubio, Lorenzo Brown, Tyus Jones
SG: Kevin Martin, Zach LaVine
SF: Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad, Damjan Rudez
PF: Kevin Garnett, Adriean Payne, Nemanja Bjelica, Anthony Bennett
C: Karl-Anthony Towns, Gorgui Dieng, Nikola Pekovic
You may notice another new name on that roster: Nemanja Bjelica. If you're a long time Wolves fan, that name may not be completely foreign to you...even if it is (...get it?...?) The 2010 Wolves draftee finally joins Minnesota fresh off a season in which he was named Euroleague MVP. He'll be battling in a loaded front court for minutes, but he could be a very intriguing 27-year-old rookie for the Timberwolves.
The Wolves could still balance out their roster before the season begins. They could use an additional shooting guard and or a veteran point guard. If the Wolves could, they would gladly move former #1 overall pick Anthony Bennett, however they have to trick a team into believing that they can still get something out of him, while paying him $5.7million this season.
The Wolves aren't quite done shuffling their deck, but for the most part the roster is very much in place. What kind of grade would I give the Wolves offseason? I would give it a B. It would be higher if they could move Anthony Bennett and if they would've signed Kevin Garnett for a lower dollar amount. I don't think you'll find anyone who believes KG is still worth $8million a year!!
That's all for now, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
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