NBA Rumors: Once hunted, Wolves flipped from FA prey to predator

Taurean Prince (12) and guard Jordan McLaughlin (6) Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Taurean Prince (12) and guard Jordan McLaughlin (6) Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

Suddenly, the hunted in the NBA have become the hunters. How so? For the longest time so far this off-season, we have debated the future of the Timberwolves’ relationship with backup center/power forward Naz Reid. And until the recent news of the salary cap increasing this year, the numbers to bring back Reid simply did not add up. The situation was so bleak that the best strategy appeared to be a sign-and-trade of Naz Reid to either the Los Angeles Lakers or the Phoenix Suns.

Well, don’t look now, but the Minnesota Timberwolves are no longer wounded and trying to protect the pack. In fact, the Timberwolves have turned the tables, and are now the Alpha predators on the hunt for their own NBA free agent to sign this off-season. How can this be possible?  Well, that explanation comes from Dane Moore, one of the best Minnesota Timberwolves NBA analysts, particularly when it comes to money matters

If you wondered what type of encore the Minnesota Timberwolves would be up to this summer after re-signing center/power forward backup Naz Reid, you may be in luck. As it stands now, the increase to the Minnesota Timberwolves (and the entire NBA, for that matter) 2023-24 salary cap has given the Timberwolves another option under the luxury cap.

Timberwolves can turn the tables from prey to predator this offseason

While some hope for the Timberwolves roster restocking this off-season to include last year’s surprise breakout star shooting guard/small forward Nickeil Alexander-Walker (myself included), there are other options for the team to take right now.

Per Dane Moore, one of the true PhDs of the Timberwolves’ financial tribulations, the team has the space, under the luxury cap, to make use of their Mid-Level Exception (MLE) and sign a new NBA free agent for just under $12 million. So the question is, why would the team be interested in doing so?

Well, one of the areas where the Minnesota Timberwolves roster is the most vulnerable is the backup to veteran point guard Mike Conley, Jr.  Right now, the team is looking to bring backup PF Taurean Prince and backup PG Jordan McLaughlin, but neither player has guaranteed salaries right now.

As Moore points out exquisitely, the Timberwolves could opt out of Prince and McLaughlin, adding two veterans at minimal salaries, and use the savings to sign a more significant veteran at point guard. Will that be the route that the Timberwolves’ front office takes?

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If it makes this team better, that could be an option. Will it be the option taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves? I don’t know the answer to that right now. But I do know that the Timberwolves are in a much better position to control their own destiny now. And with Minnesota Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly at the helm, I like the direction that the Timberwolves are taking right now.

After all, the real strength of the Minnesota Timberwolves roster is the pack.