Jun 21, 2011; Minneapolis, MN, USA: Minnesota Timberwolves president David Kahn answers a question during a press conference at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
The Timberwolves cavalry is almost here. Kevin Love will meet with his doctor next Wednesday and if things go well, he could be back a week after that. Chase Budinger is expected to be back in 2-3 weeks. Throw in both Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic and the Wolves realistically have 4 starters back in the next 3 weeks. That means by March 27th, the Wolves could have the starting 5 we thought we would see from the start of the season.
How great will it be to see players who can hit a 3 point basket? For as great as it will be to have starters back on the floor, it will be even better to have bench depth.
Think back to when all of these players were together? Can you remember that? That’s because all of these players weren’t together. Chase Budinger was already out before Ricky was back. This team hasn’t even had a chance to play together this season.
There’s been rumblings that this team should just let Kevin Love sit and rest for the remainder of the season. The thought is that there isn’t anything to play for this season. THERE ISN’T ANYTHING TO PLAY FOR? Really? How about the future of this team? This team’s contract situation and payroll will have to have major questions answered this off season, and the only way to know what decisions to make is by getting a chance to see this team play together.
Nikola Pekovic is an Unrestricted Free Agent at the end of the season. In order to know if the Wolves will want to match any contract he’s offered, they will need to know how he, Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, Andrei Kirilenko, Chase Budinger and Ricky Rubio all fit together. Things wouldn’t be so bad if you knew there was a little more time, but with only two years left after this season, Love will need to see this team win, otherwise he can walk.
The rule with unrestricted free agents is, whatever you think they will get, add a couple million. So that means if you thought Pek was going to get 12, he would get 14. Do you want Pek around if he gets 14? If you take what was said at the Sloan conference, Pek is viewed very highly by almost every NBA team. That would typically mean, there’s about to be a bidding war. Is that a war the Wolves will want to get in?
The Wolves already have $59 million tied up next season without any possible new contract for Pek. If he should go for, say, $14 million; that puts the Wolves at $73 million in payroll next season. Now more than likely Roy and his $5.2 million will come off the books, but even then, that leaves $68.8 million. That $68.8 million would be for 12 players, and Budinger isn’t included in that list of 12.
You can see where there is a great need to have all of these players play together to know if you will want the Wolves to spend this type of money in the off season. Plus Chase is left out, and from early on this season, Chase looked good. He was aggressive, shooting 48% from the floor and 30% from 3. I know you’re saying “only 30%”, but for his career he’s a 36% shooter. That 36% would be the highest of any Wolves back court player.
Contractually there would seem to be problems with the JJ Berea and Luke Ridnour. You can have one or the other, but don’t need both. Who do you like better?
For as professional as Luke is, and has been, he should be the odd man out. He’s a 31 year old, 10 year veteran who would have a $4.3 million expiring contract. With Malcom Lee coming back next season and JJ playing at a much higher level than Luke, there really is no debate that Luke would be the logical answer for who to get rid of.
If you take out Luke’s $4.3 there is a chance to sign Chase in the $2.5 million range and that would give the Wolves 13 players with $67 million in payroll. Then the Wolves could sign a strong performing Summer League performer, or a D League player. Even the minimum for a player like that would be close to a million and the team is up to 14 players at a $68 million payroll. If Papa Glenn is willing, the team would have roughly a $2 million cushion before they hit the Luxury Tax.
Before any of the dollar figures are to happen, there is one thing that would need to happen for the Wolves. Let all of these guys play together and see how it works. Until that is known, there is no reason to speculate as to where they should spend their money.