With the offseason about to be in full swing, our Kyle Ratke broke down what you need to know over the offseason for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
How Did They Finish In 2019-20?
The Timberwolves finished the 2019-20 season with a 19-45 record, the third-worst record in the league behind only the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers (hard to believe these two teams faced off in the Finals three years ago, huh?).
They were one of eight teams not in the league’s bubble in Orlando. Instead, Timberwolves’ fans had to watch Jimmy Butler will the Miami Heat to the NBA Finals.
In fairness to the Wolves, Karl-Anthony Towns played in just 35 games due to a variety of injuries throughout the season.
2020 Draft Picks
The Wolves have the 1st, 17th and 33rd picks in the draft.
It’s the most value any team has in the draft. While the draft is considered a weak draft, there’s still plenty of talent to be had. Don’t sleep on that 17th pick. There are some very good players expected to be available in the middle of the first round.
While both players fit what the Wolves are trying to do, keep an eye on Beasley. He’s a potential starting shooting guard who averaged 20 points per game and shot 44% from 3-point range. However, Beasley got himself in some legal trouble this offseason. Do you know what’s not a great thing to do two months before signing a life-changing contract? Get arrested.
We’ll see how that shakes out.
Jordan McLaughlin, who showed that he’s fully capable of being an impactful backup point guard, and Kelan Martin are restricted free agents as well. It’d be a huge surprise if the Wolves didn’t bring back McLaughlin to backup D’Angelo Russell.
Evan Turner, who never played a game for the Timberwolves after being traded from the Hawks at the deadline, is also an unrestricted free agent.
While we don’t know what next year’s cap will look like for sure, but the Wolves are estimated to have about $14 million in practical cap space, the 10th-most money in the league.
Potential Free-Agent Targets?
The Wolves won’t be able to sign a star. If they acquire a star, it will be in a trade that revolves around the No. 1 pick and forward James Johnson (for cap purposes).
I wrote earlier this month about three potential targets for the Timberwolves. That group included Justin Holiday, Willy Hernangomez and Christian Wood. Those names might not be super exciting, but players like Holiday and Wood could be huge difference makers for this team.
Any Expiring Contracts in 2020-21 Who Could Be Traded?
Jake Layman and Johnson will be entering the last years of their contracts before being unrestricted free agents.
Layman is a very nice piece for the Wolves, but if they are out of playoff contention the deadline, he seems like a pretty logical trade piece. Johnson, who is due $16 million 2020, is probably considered more of a buy-out candidate.
Given how Spellman’s time in Minnesota has gone so far, I’d be shocked if he’s with the Timberwolves at the start of the 2020-21 season.
Where Do the Wolves Stand In the West Right Now?
What are the Wolves hoping for in 2020-21? It should be “sneak into the playoffs as the seventh or eighth seed” given how competitive the West is. But even that is probably unrealistic.
While the Wolves have the talent to make a run into the playoffs next season, you’d probably win a bet if you said the Wolves finish as one of the bottom four or five teams in the West. The Warriors, Pelicans, Suns, Grizzlies and Blazers will all almost certainly get better. Maybe the Thunder, Rockets and Jazz take a step back, but two of the three will still probably make the playoffs.
Let’s say the Thunder go all in for tanking and trade Chris Paul this offseason. That leaves us one playoff spot to fight for between the Wolves, Grizzlies, Suns, Pelicans and Warriors. I’m not super optimistic about that. I would say it’s not a huge deal since the Wolves would have a first-round pick in a loaded 2021 draft, but well, they don’t have that pick since they traded it to the Warriors in the Russell/Andrew Wiggins deal.