At the trade deadline, the Minnesota Timberwolves acquired Evan Turner in the trade that also brought them Malik Beasley and Juancho Hernangomez.
Once the dust had settled, the Minnesota Timberwolves had a full roster and were about $600,000 over the luxury tax line. The easy fix was to get Evan Turner to agree to a buyout that could not only give them an extra roster spot, but allow them enough wiggle room under the tax to sign two-way players Kelan Martin or Jordan McLaughlin to a standard NBA contract for the rest of the season.
The Wolves have taken a relatively unprecedented route of letting Evan Turner work out for other teams while under contract with Minnesota as reported by Chris Hayne of Yahoo Sports. Unfortunately the Clippers opted to sign Reggie Jacksonafter working out Turner, and that likely ended any discussions with the Wolves’ veteran.
Even with Karl-Anthony Towns missing time and Jake Layman just recently coming back from an injury, Turner remained away from the team. Heck, the Wolves could actually use his defense and playmaking right now if they’re trying to win games.
The deadline for a free agent to sign with a postseason contender is March 1st. This means Turner only has a day or two to get free of his contract if he wants to be play for a playoff team. He’s still free to sign with any other team post-March 1st, he just would not be eligible to play in the playoffs.
If nothing happens on the buyout front, the Wolves could bring Turner back into the fold and see how he fits with the rest of the team or accept that they’ll be a tax-paying team and waive him anyways to allow Martin or McLaughlin sign long-term. Although, Darren Wolfson has reported that Minnesota and McLaughlin haven’t discussed an extension yet.
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The potential cost of the repeater tax should be enough motivation for Minnesota to get this done, but the lack of a market for Turner’s services is likely what’s holding up this process.
There’s a chance that Minnesota could waive and stretch Turner’s salary (evenly dispersing it through the next three years as a cap hit, so roughly $6,200,000 a year). If this ends in the worst-case scenario, this is a fine year for Glen Taylor to be a tax payer as there isn’t much of a tax distribution he’d be missing out on due to almost every team being under the tax this season.
At the end of the day, it’s looking unlikely that Evan Turner can find a new home and Minnesota will probably be stuck with him.
There are pros and cons of waiving Turner if there is no buyout, and it wouldn’t be the worst thing ever if he’s stuck on the roster. Similar to James Johnson, Turner could play as the de-facto point guard from the forward position and add some size on the wing.
He would bring an extra level of depth, defense, and playmaking if the Wolves ever need it. Turner could even act as a mentor to Jarrett Culver.
Whatever decision the Wolves intend to make must be made quickly as the playoff buyout deadline is right around the corner.