Minnesota Timberwolves: Practicing the art of walking away in free agency

MIAMI, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 26: Juan Hernangomez hugs Malik Beasley after they defeated the Miami Heat. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 26: Juan Hernangomez hugs Malik Beasley after they defeated the Miami Heat. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Malik Beasley
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – FEBRUARY 21: Malik Beasley #5 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves will have four restricted free agents hit the market this summer, which means they’ll have to make plenty of tough decisions.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are in somewhat of an unfamiliar place.

As things stand right now, the Wolves several talented players that need playing time, three incoming draft picks that will likely fall in the top 33 picks, and no bad contracts on the roster.

Unfortunately Minnesota will see a handful of key players hit free agency and they’ll need to know when to walk away should things get too crazy.

Minnesota will have four likely restricted free agents this off-season. Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez are the high-profile names, but two-way players Kelan Martin and Jordan McLaughlin will also be RFAs. Additionally, there remains a chance that James Johnson uses his player option to opt out of his deal and enter the free agent market, although that seems fairly unlikely.

After trading away what could be a very valuable pick in the 2021 draft to turn Andrew Wiggins‘ bad contract into D’Angelo Russell, the Wolves cleared their books of their biggest salary anchor. They need to keep the roster clear of bad deals to allow for optimal flexibility as star Karl-Anthony Towns enters his prime and the years of his contract that could shape if he wants to stay or not.

Fortunately, the Wolves will be snug up against the salary cap provided an unforeseen move and that could sway them away from matching any big contract offers.

Let’s take a look at each player, starting with Beasley.

Malik Beasley

Beasley was on fire once he arrived in Minnesota and should factor into the team’s future in a big way.

He averaged 20.7 points per game, 5.1 rebounds a game, and shot 42.6 percent from three. The Timberwolves offered him his best opportunity as a player and he gave Minnesota a veteran that understand what they need to do to win.

Beasley’s offseason market will likely be a mixed bag. The cap space around the league dried up at the trade deadline and not too many teams could offer Beasley a deal that would scare Minnesota off, much less have a need for him.

On the other hand, the star shooting guard is represented by Rich Paul and Klutch Sports. They have a tendency for having their restricted free agents asking a tad too much for deals and potentially opting to accept their qualifying offer, which in Beasley’s camp could make sense if they think they’d have a bigger market in 2021’s massive free agency.

A fair price for Beasley seems to be around three years and $15 million a year, possibly give or take about $3 million a year either way. (Remember, Beasley reportedly turned down three years and $30 million from Denver before the season.)

Related Story. Top draft prospects for the Wolves. light

If a team offers or if Beasley’s camp demand $20-22 million per year, Minnesota could have means for replacing him and just accepting the extra salary space for the future.

In the draft, there will be a couple of players that could help ease the loss of Beasley, and there’s a good chance that Minnesota could pick one of them before free agency even begins.

First is Georgia’s Anthony Edwards. Edwards isn’t the shooter that Beasley is, but he has the potential to at least be a third option on offense and be a significant upgrade on defense, which could potentially fit the team better anyways.

The second is Isreal’s Deni Avdija. Avdija is another player that could assume Beasley’s role as third option offensively as a worse shooter but potential upgrade defensively. He would also give the team some more size and open up more shooting guard minutes for Josh Okogie and Jarrett Culver to help balance out the teams defensive/offensive oriented players in lineups.

Lastly, there’s RJ Hampton of Australia’s NBL. Hampton grades to be potentially a similar level shooter as Beasley while being an upgrade in the play-making department. While Hampton is likely a downgrade on the defensive end, the difference in play could be worth the likely $15 million plus saved if they go this route over a deal that’d be too expensive. Hampton is also the guy that is most likely to still be around when the Wolves draft.

Let’s talk about Juancho Hernangomez.