Timberwolves 2015-16 Roster – Who’s in and who’s out?

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Mar 7, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic (14) attempts the drive to the basket past Portland Trail Blazers center Robin Lopez (42) in the first half at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Power Forwards and Centers

Like its wings, Minnesota has an overloaded front court, especially since it is in the market for an elite post prospect like Jahlil Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns during the upcoming draft. Because a lot of these guys can play both power forward and center, I’ll keep them all in one slide.

Definitely Returning Next Season

Nikola Pekovic  29 years old; signed through 2017-’18 season; due $35.8 million

  • UFA in 2018
  • If the Wolves had a Get out of Jail Free card and could use it on one terrible contract, it’d be this one. Pek is talented but cannot stay on the court. He will finish this year with a career-low in games played and field goal percentage. The only time he averaged fewer points per game than this year was his rookie season, in which he only played 13.6 minutes a night. If the Timberwolves could trade him, they would. But because of his contract, he’ll be here until 2018 or he retires from chronic foot injuries — whichever comes first.

Gorgui Dieng – 25 years old; signed through 2016-’17 season; due $3.8 million

  • RFA in 2017
  • Gorgui is another important member of the Timberwolves young core and will be in Minnesota next season. He didn’t take as big a step forward as a lot of people expected this year, especially on the defensive end where he is a liability. He really didn’t make a whole lot of improvement this year, and while he’s only in his second season, he’s already 25 years old. Dieng will be back for at least the next couple of seasons, but I don’t know what his future in Minnesota looks like much further beyond that.

Adreian Payne – 24 years old; signed through 2017-’18 season; due $5.04 million

  • RFA in 2018
  • Payne will be back because of the ridiculous investment (a first rounder) Flip Saunders made in him just before the trade deadline. With team options in 2016 and 2017, Payne only has $1.9 million guaranteed on his contract. Similar to Dieng, he may only be a rookie, but he’s already 24. As Ben wrote for DWW yesterday, he has a long, long way to go before becoming a competent basketball player. Also similar to Dieng, Payne will be in Minnesota next year, but I’m not sure for how much longer after that.

Probably Will Be Back

Justin Hamilton – 24 years old; RFA this offseason; $1.1 million qualifying offer

  • I love Justin Hamilton. He’s looked great in limited action with the Wolves. Outside of Kevin Garnett, he’s the only big man Minnesota has that is a competent defender. He doesn’t have a great post game but can stretch the floor. If I had to choose long term between Hamilton and Dieng, I would take Hamilton in a heartbeat. I hope he’s back next year.

Probably Won’t Be Back

Anthony Bennett – 22 years old; signed through 2016-’17 season; due $13.1 million

  • Of the $13.1 million still due to Big Daddy Canada, only $5.8 million is guaranteed, as 2016-’17 is a team option for $7.3 million. Bennett is an enigma. He showed tons of promise early in the year but then completely fell apart for the majority of the season. He shouldn’t have any excuses anymore because he got his weight, vision, and sleep apnea fixed last summer. I think Flip will dangle Bennett as trade bait this offseason, and someone will bite. He’s low-risk, high-reward because of the team option after the coming season, but there’s just not room for him in Minnesota.

I Have Absolutely No Clue

Kevin Garnett – 38 years old; unrestricted free agent this offseason

  • When the Garnett trade was finalized, there were numerous reports that the Wolves wanted to sign KG to an extension, possibly for two more seasons. I can’t imagine how that would work. I want KG around the team every day, but in my opinion, there just isn’t room for him on the roster with the logjam in the front court. We’ll just have to wait and see how it plays out.

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