Minnesota Timberwolves: Checking in on NBA free agency backup plans

Potential Minnesota Timberwolves free agent target Rondae Hollis-Jefferson guards Karl-Anthony Towns. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Potential Minnesota Timberwolves free agent target Rondae Hollis-Jefferson guards Karl-Anthony Towns. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Free agency is nearly two days old, and the Minnesota Timberwolves have struck-out thus far. Who is still out there that remains on their radar?

The Minnesota Timberwolves don’t have any cap space. They also don’t have a ton of roster spaces available.

But as it stands right now, the power forward position is thin, to put it lightly. The only natural 4s on the roster are rookie Jaden McDaniels and Jarred Vanderbilt, who has appeared in all of 28 NBA games. Omari Spellman is there, too, but there’s no indication that he’ll report to the team and will surely be traded.

Minnesota wants to bring back restricted free agent Juan Hernangomez, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Let’s look at the key signings so far around the league, and what targets that leaves for the Wolves.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Checking in on free agency backup plans

In terms of cap space, the Timberwolves have none. The Wolves only have the mid-level exception, worth $9.258 million, and the biannual exception, which clocks in at just $3.623 million.

They do have a couple of contracts that aren’t yet fully guaranteed for the season in Naz Reid and Jaylen Nowell. With them in the fold, plus rookies Anthony Edwards and McDaniels and Malik Beasley, who agreed to ink a four-year deal on Friday, the Wolves have 14 players under contract.

That leaves room for only one more player, pending what happens with Spellman. The Wolves priority is to spend the mid-level exception, and in a perfect world they would be able to use the whole thing on a player who is worthy of that kind of cash.

Unfortunately, the market hasn’t developed in the Wolves’ favor.

Our own Dylan Jackson highlighted three options for the Wolves: Jae Crowder, Paul Millsap, and JaMychal Green. Sure enough, the Wolves reportedly showed interest in all three, but they’re all off the board — with two of them headed to Denver. (Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic notes the Green conversations here, subscription required.)

Other options that would have made sense on some level, such as Derrick Jones Jr. and Jeff Green, are also off the market. Bigger names such as Jerami Grant (three years and $60 million from Detroit) and Danilo Gallinari (three years, $61.5 million) that could have been sign-and-trade options are off the table, too.

What does that leave for the Wolves?

Well, Juancho Hernangomez, of course. The Wolves still want to bring him back, and he should be relatively affordable; roughly half of the mid-level exception should get it done. Other options include old friend Taj Gibson, who was waived by the Knicks, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.

All three of those players will be seeking rotation minutes, however, so it would be a surprise if the Wolves signed more than one more veteran even though they plan to jettison Spellman. Perhaps they’ll bring back Kelan Martin or Jordan McLaughlin on a partially-guaranteed deal for the final roster spot. After all, D’Angelo Russell and Ricky Rubio remain the only point guards on the roster.

It was always going to be uphill skiing for the Wolves to try and bring in a name like Crowder or Millsap, but they still need to find a way to add another 4 to compete for minutes next to Karl-Anthony Towns.

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Expect them to make a move in the next day or two, and then we’ll turn our attention to the trade market. Remember, roster moves don’t end with free agency — and especially not in an offseason as unique as this one.