Timberwolves

Is Marcus Georges-Hunt Part of the Plan in Minnesota?

The high point of the Minnesota Timberwolves season — thus far — was the first day 2018. On Jan. 1, the Wolves jumped out to a 16-0 lead on the Los Angeles Lakers and never looked back. For the second straight night, the Wolves didn’t just look good; they were dominant.

After that game, Tom Thibodeau gave the media his longest and most positive press conference of the season inspiring good vibes confirmed in the locker room. Things just felt good. So much so an article titled “Everyone Likes Each Other” was written by The Athletic‘s Jon Krawczynski.

If there was a moment in the locker room that affirmed Krawczynski’s sentiment it was when Marcus Georges-Hunt’s son joined Jimmy Butler — in his arms — for a four-minute interview. There were no questions about defensive breakdowns, lacking effort, or heavy minute-loads; just smiles.

In that Lakers game, young Georges-Hunt’s (seen above) dad played in his tenth consecutive game, depositing five points in seven minutes of play. And now, nearly half-way through the season in Minnesota, it feels as if Georges-Hunt has carved out the role — albeit small — of defensive-specialist.

Soon, the Timberwolves will have to decide his fate. That will be a tough choice.

Everyone Likes Marcus

Since signing a partially-guaranteed contract on Aug. 10, by all accounts, the 23-year-old is not only well-regarded in the locker room but has become this season’s bench player that Wolves fans — particularly those that live deep in the weeds — have fallen in love with.

Georges-Hunt is the poster boy of NBA hipsters — the proverbial 3-and-D prospect of lore that every team (particularly Minnesota) desires.

In the D-League as a member of the Maine Red Claws, Georges-Hunt shot 39 percent on above-the-break 3-pointers and profiled as a brick wall not easily penetrated on the defensive end.

So, yeah, he is the man of very shallow Wolves dreams.

However, a key caveat in this love affair is the partially-guaranteed aspect of Georges-Hunt’s contract. His time could be quickly coming to an end in Minnesota.

Per Eric Pincus at BasketballInsiders.com, Georges-Hunt’s contract is worth $1,312,611 but only $275,000 of that contract is guaranteed. The full $1.3 million guarantees on Jan. 10, meaning the Wolves have a decision at-hand.

The Contract Options For Georges-Hunt And/Or His Roster Spot

While it seems intuitive that player ingrained in the rotation would be retained, that is no guarantee. Often times these partially guaranteed contracts are an early-season loophole used to roster a player for the lowest possible cost. (See: John Lucas III on the 2016-17 Timberwolves.)

The bad news for Georges-Hunt and his stans: As of Jan. 5, a new — even cheaper — contract option becomes available; the 10-day contract. Conceivably, the Wolves have (some) incentive to not guarantee Georges-Hunt, waive him and pursue 10-day contract players.

There are three paths.

Option 1: Fully-Guarantee the remaining $1,037,000 of Georges-Hunt Deal

If Tom Thibodeau wants to continue using Georges-Hunt in his current role, this is the safest — though most expensive — option for retainment. No other team could poach the young wing.

Option 2: Waive Georges-Hunt’s contract and use his roster spot elsewhere

The Wolves currently have one open roster spot on the big-league squad but waiving Georges-Hunt’s contract would open a second.

An example I could see for this path being taken would be if the team already has plans to sign a point guard (maybe free agent Mike James) but also wants to sign a veteran wing with more shooting chops (maybe Anthony Morrow).

The biggest advantage of waiving Georges-Hunt is gaining roster-flexibility. This past week, the Houston Rockets signing Gerald Green (off the street) is the optimistic example of this option in fruition.

Option 3: Waive Georges-Hunt and sign him to a 10-Day Contract

With the Jan. 15 deadline to sign players to Two-Way Contracts fast approaching, it is peculiar Minnesota has not filled their second available Two-Way spot for the paltry price of $75,000 (less than one Cole Aldrich game check — $89,024).

Perhaps this second two-way alongside Anthony Brown — the Wolves sole two-way player — is being saved for someone in particular.

However, that someone cannot be Georges-Hunt. The amount of money he has already made this seasons ($250,000) makes him ineligible.

A 10-day Contract is a possibility. If Georges-Hunt is waived and clears waivers — a 48-hour process where the other 29 teams can choose to inherit a waived player’s salary — he could then be signed to a 10-day.

This option would be the far cheaper option for Glen Taylor and the Timberwolves organization. It would also create roster flexibility for the rest of the season. Georges-Hunt can be signed for up to two 10-Days and then the Wolves could again make a decision to retain him for the rest of the season — this path essentially delays making a decision on him for up to 20 days.

***

The Minnesota roster is littered with players less productive than Georges-Hunt — Shabazz Muhammad and Aaron Brooks to name two — but the issue with waiving those players and conversely the appeal in waiving Georges-Hunt is the fact that everyone else on the roster has a fully-guaranteed deal.

In the accounting ledger, the price of losing Georges-Hunt is literally $0.

Minnesota has until 5:00 p.m. ET on Jan. 7 to make this decision.

Waiving Georges-Hunt would ignore the daily personal connections he has developed in the Minnesota locker room in favor of a desire for roster flexibility and/or to evade writing a million dollars worth of games checks.

This is all yet another cold reminder that the league is not only motivated by player’s personalities and performance but also the franchise’s bottom line.


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