There are a few players we know for certain will be on the roster...
Ricky Rubio has been deemed as one of two 'untouchable' Timberwolves players. Ricky is Minnesota's starting point guard of the future. He'll still be on his rookie contract which will pay him $4,002,120 next season. That salary for next season is a team option as is Ricky's salary ($5,070,686) in 2014-15. He's clearly an integral part of the Wolves' long-term plans.
The second of two 'untouchables' is Kevin Love. While he has plenty of Timberwolves fans hoping the Wolves will trade him, he'll quickly put those rumblings to rest assuming he returns to his All-Star form. I have no doubts he'll do just that! He'll be a Wolf until he makes it clear that he doesn't want to anymore.
The Wolves currently have two 'backup' point guards on this season's roster: Luke Ridnour & J.J. Barea. There's a very good chance that only one of those two will be on the roster in 2013-14. I assume that one will be moved this summer (likely around the Draft). Both players were rumored to possibly moved before Thursday's (2/21) Trade Deadline. The most likely of the two will be Luke Ridnour. Ridnour will make $4,320,000 in 2013-14 and will be an unrestricted free agent after next season. That expiring contract will increase his trade value even more. While J.J. Barea can be quite 'bipolar' on the court--meaning you never know who you're getting out on the floor. Some nights he'll fearlessly drive to the rack and either finish extremely difficult layups or dish to a wide-open teammate, while also playing smothering D and knocking down threes. Other nights, he flops all over the place, plays less than stellar D and can't hit any shots. I assume Barea will still be on the roster come 2013-14.
Brandon Roy has played five regular season games for the Wolves since signing his two-year $10.4million contract. Those five games are likely the only five games he'll play as a Wolf and potentially the last five he'll ever play in the NBA. Roy's $5million-plus he's owed next season is non-guaranteed and assuming he isn't bought out sometime in the near future, no matter what, he won't be on the roster next season. Yet another failed signing by the maestro David Kahn.
Malcolm Lee had yet another season filled injury. His rookie campaign was marred by a knee injury that kept him out for the first part of the season. This time, he was seeing consistent minutes because of so many injuries, but unfortunately he went down with a knee and hip injuries that forced him into season-ending surgery. He's currently under contract for 2013-14 at a discount, owed just over $880,000. Assuming the Wolves don't need the roster spot for someone else they really like, he'll be a Wolf in 2013-14.
Alexey Shved is the last guard on the roster we haven't discussed. Shved was one of the offseason's most underrated signings. He's under contract for another two years at the conclusion of this season and is most certainly in the Wolves' long-term plans. If Alexey can add some bulk and become a more physical player he could very well be the team's starting shooting guard, otherwise he'll remain a very excellent sixth man off the bench. He has all the tools to turn into Manu Ginobli 2.0!
We've discussed Andrei Kirilenko's future previously, but when it's all said and done, it's doubtful that he leaves over $10million on the table as he won't get an offer anywhere near that number. While it remains a possibility that he could opt out of that final year and look for a longer deal that guaranteed a price tag around $6million to $8million for three to four years. I do hope that AK opts out and signs a longer deal at a lower price, but when it's all said and done I just hope he's a Minnesota Timberwolf in 2013-14.
Mickael Gelabale was signed mid-season after Josh Howard tore his ACL and Lazar Hayward's second 10-day contract expired. He was brought in on two 10-day contracts of his own, before being signed for the remainder of the season. There have been some rumors that he is signed through 2013-14 or (more likely) he has a team option for next season. If he does have that team option, it'll be for no more than the veteran's minimum. He's been 'all right' in his short time in Minnesota. After falling out of the League a few years back and playing internationally, the Wolves gave him a chance and because of so many injuries, he's been given a pretty big role. I wouldn't mind him being back next season as a reserve forward playing behind AK & (hopefully) Chase.
Chase is an unrestricted free agent this summer and according to multiple reports the past couple months, resigning him this offseason is a MAJOR priority. He's getting closer to returning to the court and the last 15-20 games he's able to play will be a pretty big factor in the annual dollar amount he'll demand in free agency. He's said he wouldn't mind staying in Minnesota and some reports I've read expect the Wolves offer to be around $2million a year. I feel like he's showed some great potential and skill during his time in the NBA and I wouldn't be surprised if another team offers him a $4-$5million a year contract annually. As a specialist stand-still spot-up shooter and automatically Minnesota's best three-point shooter. So long as they can get him for the 'right amount' I'm hoping he's a TWolf come 2013-14.
Now, we're into the our reserve power forwards: Derrick Williams & Dante Cunningham. One will be back next season and one won't, can you guess which is which? Well, Dante has a team option for 2013-14, while Williams will be entering the third year of his four-year rookie contract. Still unsure? I'll give you a hint, the guy with the team option will be a Wolf, while the guy on his rookie contract is as good as gone. Dante Cunningham is a favorite of Rick Adelman as one of the team's most versatile defenders who, if he will develop his low-post offense, could become one of the Wolves' best reserves. Darren Wolfson said in a report from 1500 ESPN that it's already been decided that Dante's option will be picked up and he'll be a Wolf next season. Derrick Williams' future could be more uncertain as we head into the offseason. He's been playing very well as of late in the absence of Kevin Love and even more recently: Andrei Kirilenko & Nikola Pekovic. In an injury-ravaged season, Derrick Williams' steady improvement has been a bright spot. I only hope he'll continue his higher level of play for the remainder of the season as it's more than likely Williams will be traded this summer and him playing well, clearly improves his 'value'. Don't be surprised if DWill is moved around the Draft come June for a high(er) pick in the Draft to get a guy like Oladipo or McLemore or, conversely to obtain a veteran shooting guard.
Reserve center Greg Stiemsma. It's no secret that I'm not a big Stiemsma fan and would more than happy to see him leave this summer. He's got a team option for the 2013-14 season and according to the same 1500 ESPN report from Wolfson that said the Wolves would be picking up Dante's option--said the Wolves would be picking up Greg's option, as well. That option will pay him just under $2.7million for 2013-14. The Wolves will be paying Stiemsma almost $3million dollars to play 10 minutes a night, pick up 4 fouls and have every guy on the other roster want to punch him in the face. You could pay Jason Collins the veteran's minimum for fouls and intimidation. Unless there's a major spike in his overall game this summer, I can't fathom paying him that kind of money for the kind of production you receive.
Reserve center Chris Johnson. We saw some great play from Johnson during that stretch under Terry Porter (as acting head coach) when Adelman was with his hospitalized wife. He's just 27 years old and he's still got some potential to become better. His game relies on elite athleticism and he's got plenty of it! From everything I've heard, the Wolves will look to bring him back next season. If he can add a bit more weight & strength, he'd be a 'leaps & bounds' upgrade over Greg Stiemsma as the backup center. CJ has a similar skillset & body to Anthony Randolph and I remember saying the same things about him during his season-and-a-half with the Wolves.
Starting center and the continually improving Nikola Pekovic. It'd be a shame if the Wolves were to lose Nikola Pekovic this summer. It leaves a big hole in the middle and if the Wolves honestly believe Timofey Mozgov is the answer as his replacement...I have my doubts. If the Wolves can resign him for a contract that pays him $10million a year, he'll be a Wolf, but if a team makes him the kind of offer that Roy Hibbert got this past offseason or DeAndre Jordan got two seasons ago, he'll be donning a different uni come 2013-14. His agent is Mark Bartelstien--the same as Kevin Love & former Wolf Al Jefferson. If you remember the contract Big Al got, Mark will be looking to get the same kind of deal for Pek. From all the reports I've heard, Pekovic loves playing in Minnesota and would definitely like to stay. If he's willing to take less than the $12million another team will likely pay him. Just remember this, the Houston Rockets gave reserve center Omer Asik a contract this summer that paid him just over $8.3million a year for the next three years. That was for an unproven center that showed he had potential, but was buried behind Joakim Noah and averaged less than 2 points & 4 rebounds a game! For a guy that has shown steady improvement each of his three years in the League and is currently averaging just under 16 points a game and 9 rebounds, someone is going to make him a big offer. Some teams that will be interested: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats, Dallas Mavericks, Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers (if they don't bring back Bynum) and the Portland Trailblazers. The Blazers remain the most likely as they're in the market for a quality center (they signed Hibbert to an offer sheet this past summer that Indiana matched) and would love to 'get back at Minnesota' for that Nicolas Batum offer sheet this past summer as well as the Martell Webster debacle & Brandon Roy fiasco. All in all, Pekovic IS my FAVORITE Timberwolf and I pray the Wolves can resign him this summer.
I know we're all tired of the continual roster turnover and letting Pekovic leave via free agency would be another step backwards. I think we can all agree a starting unit of Rubio, Kirilenko, Love, Pekovic and a shooting guard that we either draft or trade for would (when healthy) be a playoff team in 2013-14. The key to that: being healthy. Not like that's any great surprise.
I've rambled on far enough. Hope you enjoyed. Do you have a difference of opinion, something I say rub you the wrong way, do you agree with me fully? Let me hear it in the comment section below! Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!