Minnesota Timberwolves: A look at the summer ahead

Photo by Elizabeth Flores/Star Tribune via Getty Images
Photo by Elizabeth Flores/Star Tribune via Getty Images /

Minnesota Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas will be thrown into the fire this offseason as he attempts to build a competitive roster with limited financial assets.

The Minnesota Timberwolves face an uphill battle in regards to the upcoming free agency period.

The team enters the summer with no available cap space and yet almost half of the current roster will hit free agency. The Wolves’ new president of basketball operations, Gersson Rosas, must find some creative solutions in order to maximize the team’s roster for the 2019-20 season.

Our own Brady Olson previously provided an in-depth look at the teams’ difficult salary cap situation.

The Timberwolves have a large portion of their 2019-20 cap space taken up by the $27 million owed to Andrew Wiggins as well as Karl-Anthony Towns‘ new contract, which will pay him either $27 million or $32 million depending on his All-NBA status, which we’ll find out soon.

Meanwhile, Jeff Teague recently opted into the final year of his contract with a cap hit of $19 million.

This solidifies the Timberwolves’ cap situation, putting the team slightly over the projected cap of $109 million for 2019-20.


The Timberwolves have a plethora of players who will hit free agency this summer.

Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson, Luol Deng, Anthony Tolliver, and Jarryd Bayless will all be unrestricted free agents while Tyus Jones will be a restricted free agent. It would not be surprising to see all five of the unrestricted free agents part ways with the team due to Minnesota’s lack of cap space and the current makeup of their roster. However, the Timberwolves could attempt to bring one or two of them back on veteran minimum contracts.

The toughest decision will come regarding the future of point guard, and especially Tyus Jones. The Timberwolves have the right to match any offer that Jones receives on the open market, but a bidding war could make retaining the young point guard financially impossible. Minnesota must decide whether or not to wait for the market to set Jones’ value and at what point his price is no longer feasible.

The Timberwolves will be hard-pressed to fill out the roster while staying below the luxury tax, which is projected to be $132 million for the upcoming season. Rosas’ first order of business will be to try to convince any of the aforementioned players to return to Minnesota at a discount.

Fortunately, the team has a couple options for filling out the rotation despite being over the projected salary cap.


One tool that Minnesota will have is the mid-level exception (MLE), which is projected to be around $9.2 million for the 2019-20 season. The MLE allows a team to go over the salary cap and offer a player up to 4 years at about $40 million total over that time. Last year, the Timberwolves used part of the MLE to sign Anthony Tolliver away from Detroit.

One important thing to know is that Minnesota does not have to use this exception on a single player. Minnesota wisely saved some of their MLE last summer when signing Tolliver so that the Wolves could lock up second-round pick, Keita Bates-Diop, on a team-friendly contract. Gersson Rosas may decide to employ this tactic again in order to address holes in the rotation without exceeding the luxury tax.


Another tool that Gersson Rosas will have at his disposal is the bi-annual exception (BAE). This is a smaller exception, projected at $3.6 million, that can only be used once every two years. The Timberwolves did not use the bi-annual exception last season, meaning the BAE will be available to the team this summer.

The Timberwolves will hopefully have some cap space next summer once Jeff Teague’s contract comes off the books. For this reason, it would be wise for Minnesota to use their BAE this summer when money is extremely tight rather than hold onto it for next year when it may not be necessary.

Look for Minnesota to use this exception towards the end of free agency once the market has begun to dry up. The BAE could prove valuable if Minnesota is able to retain one of their own free agents at a discount or find a meaningful rotation player who is incentivized by the potential playing time available.

Next. Top head coach candidates to pair with Towns. dark

Stay tuned to Dunking With Wolves as we continue to cover this summer’s key free agency period over the coming months.