Tough roster decisions only getting tougher for Minnesota Timberwolves

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MARCH 6: Malik Beasley #5 of the Minnesota Timberwolves looks on. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MARCH 6: Malik Beasley #5 of the Minnesota Timberwolves looks on. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /
1 of 4
Minnesota Timberwolves, Malik Beasley, Juan Hernangomez, Jordan McLaughlin
MIAMI, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 26: Juan Hernangomez #41 of the Minnesota Timberwolves hugs Malik Beasley #5 after they defeated the Miami Heat. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves already had plenty of tough roster decisions looming. But what looks to be a lengthy delay will make things even more difficult.

The Minnesota Timberwolves made two significant trades in the span of roughly two days just prior to the trade deadline in early February.

The headliner was D’Angelo Russell, of course. He’s under contract for three years after the current season and there’s no mystery in the Wolves acquiring him. Russell’s window matches up with incumbent superstar Karl-Anthony Towns, and the idea that the duo can form a dynamic pairing of little and big for years to come has been talked about for many months.

The names on the second line of the proverbial marquee are former Denver Nuggets teammates Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez, and, to a lesser extent Jarred Vanderbilt.

The Wolves gave up another two seasons of Robert Covington, plus the modest expiring deals of Noah Vonleh, Shabazz Napier and Jordan Bell to acquire the trio, plus a first-round pick. Covington clearly had value, and the initial question was whether or not this was the best use of him as an asset.

After all, Beasley and Hernangomez both saw their roles shrink on a good Nuggets team, and both will be restricted free agents this summer. The reason that Denver chose to move on was that they didn’t want to be the ones ponying up market value this summer to retain two bench pieces in their rotation.

But the reason that the Wolves were interested in Beasley and Hernangomez was that they believe that one, or perhaps both of them were being underutilized in Denver and could be worth every bit of what they’re offered in restricted free agency.

Remember, teams that employ restricted free agents have the option of negotiating a long-term deal before free agency, or simply extending the qualifying offer, which is a one-year deal. Typically, players will then test the market and can sign an offer sheet with another franchise. The Wolves would then have the opportunity to match.

Trading for a pair of players who are to be restricted free agents was a relatively low-risk, but ultimately high-reward move. Let’s look at the current outlook related to both Beasley and Hernangomez.