Timberwolves extend qualifying Two-Way contracts to 2 fan favorites

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

While the Minnesota Timberwolves 2022-23 NBA seasons did not exactly go as well as planned, there are a number of pleasant surprises from last season. One area of complete surprise was the shocking proficiency of Nickeil Alexander-Walker to step up for the Timberwolves in the postseason and do a pretty good job defending. But NAW was not the only one who was a pleasant surprise.

One area in which I felt the Minnesota Timberwolves truly excelled was their adept usage of their Two-Way contracts. After some adjustments, the Timberwolves finally settled in on center Luka Garza and forward Matt Ryan.  So what was so special about these two?

While the norm for Two-Way Contracts is a chance for NBA teams to work with young players and develop them for future roles on the team, the Minnesota Timberwolves roster was hammered so severely by injuries that the team was forced to tap both Garza and Ryan for meaningful minutes over the course of the season. While some playing time was simply mopping up minutes at the end of games that were already decided, the team got 50 games worth out of both players.

Two-Way players who are too good to ignore

Forward Matt Ryan appeared in 22 games, averaging 8.2 MPG, 3.4 PPG, 0.5 APG, and 0.5 RPG. Of particular note, Ryan nailed his perimeter shots at a 38.8 percent clip coming off the bench for the Timberwolves. That’s some solid stuff.

The other Two-Way contract, Luka Garza, was even more impressive. He appeared in 28 games and averaged 8.7 MPG, 6.5 PPG, 2.3 RPG, and 0.6 APG. And he too was pretty hot from the perimeter, draining his three-point shots at a 35.9 percent clip. The biggest question and/or concern revolved around what the team planned to do with both players this season.

Thankfully, it appears that the Timberwolves intend to extend their relationship:

Why celebrate players who are merely on Two-Way contracts? Well, let’s pull away from the Timberwolves’ current situation and focus a bit on long-term matters. For starters, the Minnesota Timberwolves salary cap situation will reach critical mass next year when center Karl-Anthony Towns enters the period for his Super Max extension.  And while he may have been worth that much compensation at one point in his career, he certainly regressed significantly in the 2022-23 NBA season.

Will Timberwolves be tempted to trade in the future?

That is not to say that KAT is no longer relevant. He is an outstanding offensive juggernaut, able to score from anywhere on the basketball court. But with so many younger players also deserving to be paid, namely SG Anthony Edwards and SF Jaden McDaniels, the team cannot afford to tie up so much compensation in the form of Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns. As such, the team is more and more likely to trade Towns at the 2024 NBA Trade Deadline.

But having both Luka Garza and Matt Ryan in tow gives the Timberwolves tremendous flexibility.  If the Timberwolves trade Karl-Anthony Towns at the 2024 NBA Trade Deadline, then the team has the option to slide either Naz Reid to start as the power forward (likely) or promote Kyle Anderson to a starting role (less likely).

That creates an open roster spot in the front court, pending what the Timberwolves can attract in return for Towns in any trade scenario. In that case, the team could sign either Ryan or Garza to a standard contract. In doing so, the team will retain perimeter scoring lost in KAT’s wake, and add one more young complementary player to surround star SG Anthony Edwards.

Did waiving Prince derail Timberwolves depth chart?. light. Hot

Are the Timberwolves crazy? Crazy like a fox more like it. And all we have to do now is sit and wait.