Minnesota Timberwolves Roundup: Layden moves on, Okogie at the 4?

Josh Okogie may play some power forward for the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Josh Okogie may play some power forward for the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves made a change in the front office. Also, Ryan Saunders says that Josh Okogie could see time at the … 4?

President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas has brought plenty of his own hires into the Minnesota Timberwolves front office.

Now, the final executive linking the current regime to the Tom Thibodeau years is gone as Scott Layden and the Wolves have reportedly agreed to part ways.

Also, head coach Ryan Saunders is saying that Josh Okogie may spend some time at the power forward spot this year. Is that more about finding a way to get Okogie minutes, or is it concern for the lack of depth at the 4?

Minnesota Timberwolves part ways with general manager Scott Layden

The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski is reporting that Layden and the Wolves agreed to end Layden’s employment with the team just over six months early (subscription required). There were apparently a couple of issues at play.

According to Krawczynski, one is that Layden is still based in New York and would typically have traveled back and forth from the east coast and the Twin Cities this season. COVID-19-related protocols would have made that cumbersome, to say the least.

Additionally, Layden’s contract was scheduled to expire at the end of April, but with the regular season continuing into mid-May this season, there would have been a complicated end to the relationship anyway.

So, the two sides opted to come to an agreement early, which seems like it was best for all parties involved.

As Krawczynski notes, Layden was a great soldier within the organization after staying on following the firing of Thibodeau in January of 2019. Despite being fiercely loyal to Thibodeau, he had an existing relationship with Rosas and was a valued member of the new regime as his new boss transitioned to his new role.

What’s behind Josh Okogie playing the 4 for the Minnesota Timberwolves?

The actual news that the Wolves may consider playing Okogie at power forward came out a few days ago. But there’s more thought to put behind this possibility, to be sure.

First of all, is this because the Wolves are worried that there won’t be enough minutes to go around at the 2 and the 3? After all, the Wolves re-signed Malik Beasley to a $60 million deal, drafted Anthony Edwards with the first-overall pick, and added Ricky Rubio to a roster that already had a starting point guard in D’Angelo Russell.

On top of all of that, Jarrett Culver, last year’s No. 6 overall pick, will also be fighting for minutes on the wing.

Okogie is the best wing defender of the lot, yet his shooting woes and lack of playmaking skills make him a tenuous fit at the 2. Between Rubio/Russell and Beasley, the Wolves have plenty of candidates for playing time there, anyway.

The hybrid 3/4 spot could be manned by Jake Layman, as well as Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who is in camp on a non-guaranteed deal but has the requisite experience and defensive chops to not only make the roster but claim a spot in the regular rotation.

So, where does Okogie fit? According to Saunders, his “effective height” of 6-foot-8 (taking his 6-foot-4 height and 7-foot wingspan and averaging them, it seems) makes him a solid candidate to guard opposing 4s. For his part, Okogie absolutely sounds up to the challenge.

On the other hand, is it a concern for a lack of depth? Juancho Hernangomez is the only true 4 with significant NBA experience, Jarred Vanderbilt has played in 28 NBA games in two years and Jaden McDaniels is a rookie. Naz Reid is best-suited as a center and didn’t play many minutes alongside Towns last year.

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There’s plenty more to come on this possibility, to be sure. It will be interesting to see if he gets any run there in Saturday’s preseason opener against the Memphis Grizzlies.