Year-Round News & Updates on the Minnesota Timberwolves
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!
For the first time in franchise history, the Minnesota Timberwolves landed the number one overall pick in the NBA Draft...and for another season, the Wolves also didn't move up in the Lottery ;)
With the number one overall pick the Wolves are officially on the clock until the end of June. With this first overall selection the Wolves are primed to land another franchise cornerstone to pair with Andrew Wiggins and Ricky Rubio.
This was the first time since 2004 that the team with the worst record in the NBA landed the number one overall selection. Not since the Orlando Magic had the worst record in 2003-04, when they selected Dwight Howard, has this happened.
The team with the second-worst record, the New York Knicks, dropped two spots to the fourth overall selection. The Lakers jumped from fourth to second and the Philadelphia 76ers remained at the third overall pick. Here is the full Draft Lottery results...
1.) Minnesota Timberwolves
2.) Los Angeles Lakers
3.) Philadelphia 76ers
4.) New York Knicks
5.) Orlando Magic
6.) Sacramento Kings
7.) Denver Nuggets
8.) Detroit Pistons
9.) Charlotte Hornets
10.) Miami Heat
11.) Indiana Pacers
12.) Utah Jazz
13.) Phoenix Suns
14.) Oklahoma City Thunder
Though the 2015 draft may lack the star power of the 2014 draft class, there are certainly some intriguing prospects in this class. The consensus seems to be that the Wolves' selection will likely come down to Kentucky power forward Karl Anthony-Towns or Duke center Jahlil Okafor.
Towns is the more versatile big man and he fills a hole in Minnesota's starting lineup at power forward. He may not have the low-post prowess that Okafor possesses, however he covers ground on both ends of the floor very quickly. He's a great shot-blocker and rim protector, he can hit the mid-range jumper all the way out to three-point territory. He also shot over 81% from the free throw line during his lone season in Kentucky. He's also a great rebounder and can cover offensive players in pick-and-roll scenarios.
Okafor is a low-post stud that the Knicks would've loved to build around in their triangle offense. Okafor is represented by agent Bill Duffy, who was a former roommate of TWolves GM Flip Saunders. Okafor was the consensus number one overall pick for much of the college season until the much more versatile Towns came on strong toward the end of the season. Okafor is good passing out of double teams and has the potential to be a beast on the offensive glass. However his free-throw shooting and defense away from the basket need drastic work. With Nikola Pekovic already on the roster (assuming he can still play), the Wolves don't have a need for a low-post scorer who can't do much else.
If I'm Flip Saunders, I'm taking Karl Anthony-Towns number one overall next month. A starting lineup of Rubio/Martin or LaVine/Wiggins/Towns/Dieng or Pekovic could certainly make some noise after a rough 16-win 2014-15 season.
Barring any trades, the Minnesota Timberwolves will become the first team in NBA history to have three-straight number one overall picks on the roster--2013: Anthony Bennett, 2014: Andrew Wiggins, 2015: ?....
The 2015-16 Minnesota Timberwolves...
Kevin Martin, Zach LaVine, Chase Budinger
Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad
Karl Anthony-Towns, Kevin Garnett, Adriean Payne, Anthony Bennett
Gorgui Dieng, Nikola Pekovic
The Wolves are in dire need of a backup point guard. Zach LaVine's minutes should come mainly at the shooting guard, though he'll definitely play some point next season. Pairing LaVine with Rubio in the backcourt could make for a terrific tandem.
The biggest question will be how a lot of these guys develop this summer. Andrew Wiggins needs to bulk up. LaVine needs to find some consistency. Nikola Pekovic needs to get and STAY healthy. Gorgui Dieng needs to work on his one-on-one post defense.
The 2015-16 Wolves could certainly be a surprise playoff team in the West next season. However, it's more than likely that the Wolves will need at least one more year until they're ready to FINALLY return to the playoffs.
It will be an interesting summer. The Wolves could certainly move Kevin Martin who proved last year he still has plenty left in the tank and when healthy is one of the NBA's premier scorer. Given the chance will they try to move Martin? Pekovic? Budinger?
The draft order won't be set until late-May, when the Wolves will find out their fate. Will they have the No. 1 overall pick for the first time in history or will they move back in the draft...as they usually do? Regardless of where they land 1-4, there will be a difference-maker available and another building block for this franchise.
Nabbing a top-two pick and grabbing someone like Okafor or Anthony-Towns would certainly alter the trajectory of this franchise. Ultimately, the hope is that they land Anthony-Towns. His ability to stretch the floor with his jumper, his physicality, and his post defense are exactly what Minnesota needs to solidify the four-spot in their lineup. Rubio & Wiggins are the only players whose position is secure with this franchise in the starting lineup. Wiggins because he's Minnesota's franchise player and Rubio, not so much because of his play (his injuries limited him to just 22 games this season), but because of that new contract he signed this past summer.
The Wolves had Thaddeus Young, Kevin Garnett, Anthony Bennett and Adriean Payne at power forward this past season. The need in the draft will definitely be to solidify that position. Ideally they land a player like Anthony-Towns, however the development of Payne will certainly be a storyline to keep an eye on. Then, there's Anthony Bennett...what do you do with Anthony Bennett? Do you keep him this season and hope he figures out how to play in the NBA? Do you try and trade him? Considering he has little to no trade value, it is almost certain that he'll be a Wolf in 2015-16. Assuming Kevin Garnett returns (not a foregone conclusion), the Wolves will be overloaded at power forward (also considering they take a player like Anthony-Towns). There will undoubtedly be some activity from Minnesota in trades this summer as they look to balance their roster and reach the next level.
Further complicating matters will be if Minnesota falls to the 3rd or 4th overall pick and guys like Towns and Okafor are off the board. It then falls to a selection like D'Angelo Russell or Emmanuel Mudiay, assuming the Wolves draft on talent and not need.
Build around Andrew Wiggins and Ricky Rubio and hope that guys like Dieng, LaVine, and Muhammad continue to develop while Pekovic, Martin, and Rubio will hopefully stay healthy.
Regardless of what happens in the ensuing months, the future is bright in Minnesota...however we all know Minnesota fans are tired are hearing about how good the Wolves MIGHT be someday. After a decade-plus playoff drought, it's time to put up or shut up.
What might have been. This is a sentence that most Wolves fans correlate directly with Kevin Love and perhaps more importantly David Kahn. What might have been if the Wolves took DeMarcus Cousins instead of Wesley Johnson or Stephen Curry instead of Jonny Flynn?
However, in this context we're speaking on these 2014-15 Wolves and their injury-riddled season. What if Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic had never gotten hurt?
Kevin Martin believes that this Timberwolves squad could've been this season's "Phoenix Suns". Who came out of nowhere to compete for a low seed in the Western Conference. The Suns defied expectations last season. Everyone expected them to be lottery-bound as one of the NBA's worst teams. Instead they finished with a 48-34 record and amazingly and one game behind the Dallas Mavericks (49-33) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.
That was done with a nucleus of Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic, Miles Plumlee, Channing Frye, Gerald Green and the Morris twins (Markieff & Marcus).
Is it ridiculous to believe that a core of Ricky Rubio, Andrew Wiggins, Corey Brewer, Kevin Martin, Nikola Pekovic, Thaddeus Young, Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng couldn't have been this year's surprise team?
Some good has come of these injuries, however. Ricky Rubio spent his time rehabbing by working on his shot. In the couple games he's played since returning from that severe ankle sprain and ligament damage, there is a noticeable improvement in his shooting stroke and confidence in his shot.
The other big positives have been the extended playing time that Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng have gotten as a result of these injuries. Wiggins has developed quickly as the cornerstone of this franchise. Shabazz Muhammad has shown off all the work he has put in this summer. Even Zach LaVine has received an uptick in minutes because of injuries. That has sped up their development and put them in situations they wouldn't otherwise had the opportunity to be in.
By the time this Wolves team finally pushes its way back into the playoff picture, there's little doubt that guys like Ricky Rubio, Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad and Zach LaVine will be key components in that. Add in another high lottery pick this season and the Wolves are quietly becoming one of the most intriguing groups of young talent in the NBA.
They may not even make the jump in 2015-16, however (barring yet another injury-plagued season) this will be a fun team to watch and more competitive than they've ever been.
It's another rough season for Timberwolves fans. After a gradual incline in wins the past few seasons, capped by forty wins a season ago. Now, the Wolves are on pace for roughly 14 wins and are one of a handful of teams (Sixers, Jazz, Knicks, L.A. Lakers, Pistons) that are praying for the balls to bounce their way in the NBA Lottery come May. I'm sure any team would be thrilled to nab the #1 pick and draft Jahlil Okafor, however these six teams are squads that are losing night in and night out. Their fans are looking ahead to the future as the only bright spot in another season of loss after loss after loss.
The Timberwolves are currently 5-27 on the year, behind only Philadelphia at 4-28. The Wolves have lost eleven-straight.
Despite their abysmal record, there is some light at the end of this tunnel, beyond just the high draft pick as a result of the losses. The Wolves aren't as bad as they've played. Yet again, it has been a season of injuries as Minnesota's key players can't stay healthy and on the court.
You've got to factor in the fact that the Wolves are currently down three starters (Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin & Nikola Pekovic) as a key in all these losses. The Wolves lost their backup center Ronny Turiaf for the year (and later traded him to Philadelphia) and they traded away one of their few healthy veterans (Corey Brewer)
The Minnesota Timberwolves have traded Corey Brewer and Ronny Turiaf to the Houston Rockets. In return the Wolves receive Troy Daniels and two future second-round picks.
Corey Brewer, moves on after his second go-around with the Timberwolves. A reunion that was supposed to team him long-term with Kevin Love to finally end Minnesota's playoff drought. Instead, the Timberwolves missed the playoffs yet again in 2013-14, they moved Kevin Love to the Cavaliers in the offseason and to begin 2014-15, the injury bug hit the Wolves hard--that led to a 5-19 record and Flip Saunders ultimately admitting what everyone really knew coming into the season--this would be (another) rebuilding year.
Corey Brewer now joins a contender, where he'll return to the role of sixth man spark plug--like his days in Denver under George Karl. Brewer will be the reserve small forward for a team that desperately needed some quality wing depth.
Ronny Turiaf recently underwent season-ending hip surgery. He'll be an unrestricted free agent this summer, so it was ultimately a salary dump for Minnesota. The Rockets are reportedly searching for a third team to take on Turiaf's contract (Philadelphia, perhaps?).
The Wolves receive Troy Daniels and two future second-round picks. Daniels is a sharpshooter--an excellent three-point marksman. He's a combo guard that will likely see some time as the backup point guard--for the injury-riddled Timberwolves who are currently without starter Ricky Rubio with that ankle injury. Mo Williams has been dealing with a back injury that's limiting his minutes (and he even admitted himself that if the Wolves had other healthy players, he wouldn't be playing right now).
Brewer has played in all 24 games for Minnesota, including 16 games started. He is averaging 10.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.25 steals, .418 FG, .195 3PT, 0.71 FT in 28.3 minutes. Turiaf played sparingly in just two games this season before getting injured.
Troy Daniels has played 17 games for Houston this season. He's averaging 2.7 points, 0.4 rebounds, 0.2 assists, .319 FG, .302 3PT, 0.75 FT in 6.4 minutes per game. With all of Minnesota's injuries, he'll most certainly see a bump in minutes, once he gets up to speed on Minnesota's offensive & defensive schemes.
Troy will almost certainly NOT be available for Minnesota's game tonight (@Boston). Minnesota's next game will be Sunday (Dec. 21) vs. the Pacers.
As of right now, here's an updated look at Minnesota's depth chart...
Zach LaVine, Troy Daniels, Mo Williams (IR), Ricky Rubio (IR)
Andrew Wiggins, Chase Budinger, Kevin Martin (IR)
Shabazz Muhammad, Robbie Hummel, Glenn Robinson III
Thaddeus Young, Anthony Bennett
Gorgui Dieng, Jeff Adrien, Nikola Pekovic (IR)
With Brewer gone, Shabazz Muhammad will almost definitely be promoted to the starting lineup. This also means that Jeff Adrien will likely now receive a rest-of-the-season contract.
Here's a look at Minnesota's depth chart once everyone's healthy...
Ricky Rubio, Mo Williams, Zach LaVine
Kevin Martin, Chase Budinger, Troy Daniels
Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad, Glenn Robinson III
Thaddeus Young, Anthony Bennett, Jeff Adrien, Robbie Hummel
Nikola Pekovic, Gorgui Dieng
There's a very good chance that the Timberwolves aren't done dealing. Being that this is undoubtedly a rebuilding year, there are a number of players on the trading block. Kevin Martin, Chase Budinger and Nikola Pekovic are all on the trading block.
The NBA trade deadline is in February, giving Flip plenty of time to explore more deals. Stay tuned to HOWL for all the updates.
The Minnesota Timberwolves will be without their leading scorer for the next 6-8 weeks as he recovers from surgery on his fractured wrist.
The injury was occurred during that game against the Knicks. It happened in the first quarter, though Martin played through it and finished the night with 37 points, while helping the Wolves to a win, snapping their five-game losing streak.
With Martin out, more time will likely go to Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad, Corey Brewer and Chase Budinger.
The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Houston Rockets are two teams that have reportedly registered trade interest in Wolves swingman Corey Brewer.
The Houston Rockets were also said to be one team interested in Chase Budinger before the season began.
The Wolves are reportedly looking for future assets in any deal (whether that means future first or second round picks; rights to overseas players; or a young player with some potential).
The Wolves are 2-7 as of Monday afternoon, riding a steak of five-straight losses. With the loss of Ricky Rubio (high ankle sprain) the Wolves have taken a turn for the worse.
Brewer has maintained that he wants to stay in Minnesota, however one has to think that a trade to a contender like Houston or Cleveland and the tantalizing possibility to re-team with Love in Cleveland (his outlet compadre); would be okay with Brewer.
If Minnesota continues to lose games, it will be no surprise if other names such as Martin, Pekovic, etc. begin to pop up in trade rumors.
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