How A Bloomberg Cash Infusion Can Extend Minnesota's Contention Window

Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Shortly after noon on Thursday, June 6, Jon Krawczynski tweeted a bombshell:

This development means that the Marc Lore, Alex Rodriguez, and Michael Bloomberg ownership group will likely gain control of the Minnesota Timberwolves and end an awkward ownership transfer that developed during their playoff run.

Adding Bloomberg to the ownership group could also mean that Minnesota’s luxury tax concerns could be a thing of the past. Bloomberg is the 13th-richest person in the world. That could mean the Wolves will be able to return with their core group of players and have the money to make some savvy cap maneuvers to better prepare for the 2024-25 season.

The main move will likely be re-signing Kyle Anderson to a lucrative extension. The best route to future flexibility for the Wolves would be giving him around $20 million annually.

Why pay Anderson after a down year? Two reasons: cap strategy and performance.

First, the strategic side. The Wolves were handcuffed at the trade deadline this season. Potential trade targets that could have helped the Wolves, like Tyus Jones, carried salaries that were too much for the Wolves to realistically match.

For example, Jones specifically carried a $14 million salary. That would mean that if the Wolves wanted to acquire him, they would have had to send Anderson and Nickeil Alexander-Walker to the Washington Wizards or make Naz Reid available because a team over the cap cannot take back excess salary. Realistically, neither of those would have been plausible options for the Wolves.

If the Wolves were willing to pay the luxury tax, extending Anderson for two years, $40 million makes sense. It would give them a trade chip that would at least allow them to participate in trade talks at the deadline.

Last offseason, the Indiana Pacers overpaid for Bruce Brown (two years for $45 million), then used his salary as an anchor to pull off the Pascal Siakam trade. Theoretically, it’s also what the Los Angeles Lakers attempted to do with D’Angelo Russell last offseason by giving him two years, $37 million. Although the Lakers didn’t trade him, it gave them the flexibility to make a move despite being well over the cap limit.

So why Kyle Anderson? Couldn’t they pay somebody else?

The Wolves could let Anderson walk in free agency. However, any outside free agent they would sign would have to be either a veteran minimum contract or Minnesota would have to use the $5.5 million taxpayers’ mid-level exception. The other option would be to overpay other outgoing free agents. But this season, Monte Morris, Jordan McLaughlin, T.J. Warren, and Luka Garza are Minnesota’s only other free agents. None of them garner that kind of cap hit, and the league wouldn’t see them as the same asset as Anderson.

That brings the next reason to sign Anderson to the extension. Despite the down season, he deserves it. Statistically, he had a +2.1 plus/minus this season, his best since 2016-17. Anderson’s 5.1 net rating also was his best since 2016-17. His 105.1 defensive rating was his best since 2018-19.

That 105.1 rating also ranked first on the Wolves among all players who played at least 20 minutes. His 26.4% assist percentage was second on the Timberwolves to only Mike Conley. His 36.1% assist ratio was third to only Conley and McLaughlin, as was his 3.64 assist-to-turnover ratio among all players who logged at least ten minutes.

Those are Anderson’s best assets, and he has carved out a unique role. Anderson is an elite switchable defender who can guard multiple positions and was Minnesota’s best matchup against Luka Doncic in the playoffs. Offensively, Anderson is a pseudo-point guard who rarely makes mistakes and values getting his teammates involved. Anderson’s main shortcoming is his lack of shooting, which took a massive step back in 2023-24.

Last year, Anderson shot a career-worst 22.9% from three on the least attempts per game (0.6) since his 2016-17. However, Anderson was pretty effective from the spots where he’s comfortable shooting. He shot 45.7% from his floater range (5 to 9 feet). For context, Anthony Edwards only shot 41.6% from this range. Anderson also shot 57.6% from the midrange. Again, for reference, Edwards shot just 35.1%. While Edwards faces more coverage, Anderson was impressive, considering his non-existent floor stretching ability.

Between his defensive chops, offensive playmaking, and unique shot selection, Anderson is a valuable piece. His net and defensive ratings suggest he is still close to the top of his game when playing with other elite players. Considering players like Brown and Russell got close to $20 million extensions with less impressive statistics, it should be conceivable that Anderson would be worth the money based on skill alone.

Combined with the trade opportunities the deal opens up, Anderson’s skill should mean that if Minnesota’s ownership is serious about competing, signing Anderson to a $20 million deal annually should be the most appealing move the franchise can make this offseason. Contenders will blow past the tax and aprons to cement the talent on their team and open up flexibility. By adding Bloomberg to the ownership group, the Wolves should have the money to contend against big-market teams.

Anderson’s career outlook may have changed with Bloomberg in the fold. In the closing interviews, he expressed his desire to stay in Minnesota: “I don’t know where I’ll be… but obviously want to be back here.” For the Wolves, the obvious decision is to bring Anderson back, whether for his play or his contract.

UC Santa Barbara’s Ajay Mitchell Could Help Fill An Immediate Need At Guard
By Jonah Maves - Jun 20, 2024
Spencer Dinwiddie Would Fit Seamlessly As Minnesota’s Mid-Level Exception
By Andrew Dukowitz - Jun 19, 2024

NAW’s Inconsistent Playoff Run Highlighted His Importance For Next Season

Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Since arriving in the Twin Cities at the trade deadline two years ago, Nickeil Alexander-Walker has always carried an upbeat demeanor on the court and during his […]

Continue Reading