Timberwolves free agent focus: Two-Way Matt Ryan

Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Timberwolves have plenty of work to do this off-season and one of the challenges is how to decide the fate of their Two-Way players. That could be a simple matter of offering a minimal contract to fill a regular roster spot, right? Ah, but nothing is that simple for the Minnesota Timberwolves now.

One prime example is the matter of what will the Minnesota Timberwolves decide to do about the future of young power forward Matt Ryan. Should the team bring him back? Or is this a convenient moment to part ways with the young man? Well, before we jump into that maelstrom, let’s cover a few fun facts about this young man.

Matt Ryan was undrafted in the 2020 NBA Draft, hailing out of Chattanooga. And the NBA team that first took a chance on him is the Denver Nuggets, who boasted Tim Connelly as their President of Basketball Operations at the time. He was cut by the team in October 2021 and cycled through Two-Way contracts with both the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers before finally landing with the Minnesota Timberwolves after signing another Two-Way contract.

Why Timberwolves may not re-sign

If you wanted hard evidence that young power forward Matt Ryan has potential NBA star power, then you won’t be impressed. The numbers simply are not there. This 6-foot-7 215-pound power forward has had two NBA seasons to flash something spectacular to his coaches, anything to warrant more playing time at the NBA level, but so far? Nothing.

To be fair, he really hasn’t gotten the minutes per game that allow for much of a sample size. In fact, here are his NBA stat lines so far:

21-22 BOS:  5.3 MPG | 3.00 PPG | .200 FG% | .200 3P% | 0.0 RPG | 0.0 APG | 1.0 SPG | 0.0 BPG
22-23 LAL: 10.8 MPG | 3.9 PPG | .306 FG% | .371 3P% | 1.2 RPG | 0.3 APG | 0.1 SPG | 0.1 BPG
23-23 MIN:   8.2 MPG | 3.4 PPG | .424 FG% | .388 3P% | 0.6 RPG | 0.6 APG | 0.1 SPG | 0.1 BPG

There is simply not enough there to give enough to persuade any NBA personnel executive to make an obvious decision. Without compelling evidence to re-sign Ryan, other factors could prioritize other players.

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Why Timberwolves should re-sign

The stakes are getting higher, and the money to restock the Minnesota Timberwolves roster is drying up rapidly. We already see the signs of that in the matter of backup center Naz Reid. The Minnesota Timberwolves want him back, as do the Timberwolves fans. But Naz Reid wants what is best for Naz Reid, which includes the opportunity to become a starting NBA center and the sacks full of cash that come with that.

Of course, that is not to say that any propoundment to bring back Matt Ryan is born out of charity or fear. Quite the contrary, in fact.  For example, just take a quick assessment of Ryan’s shooting accuracy. They have improved. And that is not the only promising trend with this player.

Matt Ryan has competed in two consecutive NBA Summer League seasons and gobbled up the competition. He has averaged 19.0 MPG, 13.87 PPG, 3.0 RPG, and 1.0 SPG in six contests. And his G-League stats with the Iowa Wolves are worth noting as well. Some players simply take longer to develop. While the Timberwolves are in need of winning now, Matt Ryan is an affordable player to have in the pipeline for the future.

Recommendation: Re-sign

After witnessing how well Minnesota Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly worked the 2022 NBA Draft and his subsequent actions of signing players to Two-Way contracts, I hate to part ways with anyone. I like the fact that the Timberwolves can affordably re-sign a 26-year-old power forward who scores from the perimeter 38 percent of the time.

The Timberwolves signed power forward Josh Minott to an incredible four-year team-friendly contract and could do the same for Matt Ryan. That would give the Timberwolves a front-court contributor through 2027, and at an affordable price.

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With the cost of doing business going up, it’s not a question of whether or not the Minnesota Timberwolves can afford to re-sign Matt Ryan. The real question is, can the team afford NOT to re-sign him?