The biggest free agency highlight for the Minnesota Timberwolves has been missing out on D’Angelo Russell — likely an indicator the team has another slow season ahead.
The last decade has been rough for Minnesota Timberwolves fans. We’ve had our hopes up time and time again only to be let down by an underperforming team with plenty of potential. There’s been plenty of highs along the way of course, and things were certainly starting to look up when Minnesota claimed two number one draft picks in a row. One playoff appearance later and the Timberwolves were back to a lottery team.
That being said, the team still has plenty of potential for playoff contention as it is, and one big name free agent signing could’ve pushed them further into a solid competitor. Yet here we are, D’Angelo Russell-less and with our biggest move so far has been awarding Jake Layman a three-year deal. While Layman does have potential to fit in well with the team, he’s hardly a big name signing that’s going to push the team into championship contention.
While there’s still plenty of time left to acquire free agents, the Timberwolves are running pretty low on cap space. Barring any trades involving a big contract like Andrew Wiggins, Jeff Teague, or Gorgui Dieng, the Wolves aren’t going to be adding a whole lot more. The biggest name on my wishlist right now is Tyus Jones.
The front office has also been working hard at putting together the numbers to make up the roster, with the team mostly accounted for at this stage. While the re-signing of Jones could possibly make a difference, chances are we’re going into next season with a starting group of Jeff Teague, Robert Covington, Andrew Wiggins, Jake Layman, and Karl-Anthony Towns. This leaves very little in terms of experience on the bench.
Shabazz Napier and Treveon Graham have each seen a few years in the league, but their contracts are currently not guaranteed by the team. With the oldest players not listed in my starting prediction also with non-guaranteed contracts in 29-year-old two NBA season veteran C.J. Williams and 27-year-old 2018-19 NBA rookie Mitch Creek. Overall, experience may be a problem for this team.
While this is certainly something the front office would’ve thought about, and are likely still debating, I can’t tell what the plan is going forward. Is it to rule ourselves out for the next few seasons, building a young team that will hopefully blossom in a few years? Or is the goal is to just sign who we can cheap while the bloated contracts of Teague, Dieng, and Wiggins are still around?
If not those, then the only thing I can guess is that the front office trust KAT and Teague to be vocal leaders both on the court and off and plan to mix the bench in with the starters quite often rather than as a whole second unit.
Barring any other major moves, the Timberwolves could very easily find themselves as a 12th or 13th seed next season. The team as it currently stands just doesn’t seem complete in a lot of areas, and I’m hoping the front office use the rest of the offseason to tidy up the group and get the roster into shape before the coming season.
Without any major moves, but with some minor adjustments (and likely the re-signing of Jones or another capable backup point guard) this team could still find their way into the eighth seed with a competitive spirit and good coaching.
The way the roster currently stands, I find this unlikely, but with an experienced front office, I’m almost certain the team isn’t going to be taking to the court with the roster exactly as it looks at the moment. Look Timberwolves fans, there’s a very real possibility we’re in for a slow season of loss after loss next year, and half of me is expecting exactly that. But with new additions to the front office and a relatively solid core, this team still has the opportunity to be competitive. No, we won’t win a championship next season, but the playoffs aren’t necessarily out of reach just yet.
With plenty of time left before the season kicks off, there’s room for signings, trades, cuts, and all sorts before we see how our team turns out on the court. Things may look a little grim right now, but I for one am not giving up hope just yet. The Minnesota Timberwolves front office still has plenty of time to put some moves together yet, with this team not quite destined for failure as it stands.