Minnesota Timberwolves: Predicting which players will return next season

Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves talks to Ricky Rubio and teammates. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves talks to Ricky Rubio and teammates. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Ricky Rubio
Ricky Rubio of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /

Predicting which Timberwolves players will return next season: Guards

D’Angelo Russell

Prediction: WILL play for the Timberwolves next season
Certainty: High

This one is pretty straightforward. Gersson Rosas worked his tail off to get D’Angelo Russell in the summer of 2019 and maintained his pursuit until the 2020 trade deadline, when he finally got his man.

After managing to get off of Andrew Wiggins’ contract and sacrificing a first-round pick, Rosas made it clear that D’Lo is his point guard, and would be hard-pressed to trade a max contract he worked so hard to acquire.

Jordan McLaughlin

Prediction: WILL NOT return to Wolves next season
Certainty: Medium

Jordan McLaughlin had an outstanding second half of the 2019-2020 season after the trade deadline but was unfortunately met with a tough market when attempting to get a long-term contract last offseason.

Ultimately, McLaughlin signed a two-way deal with the Timberwolves. After another season in Minnesota, it has become less clear whether or not McLaughlin can be consistent enough on offense to overcome some his shortcomings.

With that said, it’s also difficult to say what kind of value McLaughlin would command in the free agent market, so if the Wolves’ offseason moves require them to pick keep a cost-friendly point guard on the roster, McLaughlin may still have a place on the Wolves next season.

Jaylen Nowell

Prediction: WILL return to Wolves next season
Certainty: Medium/High

Jaylen Nowell just finished his breakout season for the Timberwolves acting as a spark plug off the bench.

Nowell averaged 9.0 points on 18.1 minutes per game for the Wolves, often slotting himself into a primary ball-handler role. Nowell proved his value on a team-friendly contract this season, and the only way Nowell wouldn’t return is if he were to be traded as a cap-friendly sweetener in a bigger deal.

Anthony Edwards

Prediction: WILL return to the Wolves next season
Certainty: High

If Edwards didn’t show such a high upside and rapid development, this prediction might have looked different. Edwards made a strong case for the Rookie of the Year and perhaps a stronger case for the face of the franchise going forward.

Malik Beasley

Prediction: WILL NOT return to the Wolves next season
Certainty: Medium

This one is tricky. Beasley had a nice season for the Wolves prior to a hamstring injury that ended his season. He averaged 19.6 points on 39.9 percent from three while attempting 8.7 threes per game this season. Beasley was making a strong case for Most Improved Player prior to his injury, and his $15 million per year contract makes him a positive contract given his output.

With all this in mind, the Wolves will likely not have a first-round pick this upcoming draft, meaning the team will have one less trade asset to improve the team this offseason.

Given that Anthony Edwards is likely the shooting guard of the future, Beasley is arguably the best player the Wolves would be willing to offer in any trade. As nice as it would be to have Beasley as a sharpshooter off the bench, the Wolves have urgent needs to fill, and Beasley is one of few assets with real trade value on the Wolves’ current roster.

Ricky Rubio

Prediction: WILL NOT return to the Wolves next season
Certainty: High

Regardless of his performance this season, the Wolves are pressed for cap space, and Rubio is scheduled to earn north of $17 million in the final year of his contract next season. Given the Wolves’ current cap situation, it will be very difficult for the front office to make moves to improve the team this offseason without trading Rubio, especially without a 2021 first-round pick to trade.

Rubio will have trade value on the market as a leader and distributor on an expiring contract, and as a team that is strapped for current assets to trade, the Wolves will likely view Rubio as a prime trade candidate.