Latest NBA roster moves could complicate Timberwolves final roster decisions

Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Timberwolves had to make some tough decisions in the off-season, and perhaps the toughest decisions of all were the elections to part ways with former players who no longer seemed to align with the direction that the team was taking.

Whether it was lagging development, a lack of one or two fundamental skills that the Timberwolves front office believes to be vital to the success of the team, or simply a regression that no longer justified the investment that the team had in that player, the outcome was the same.

Here is where we part ways.

But in many languages, the word or phrase for goodbye is the same word or phrase used for hello. And with that in mind, is there a chance that the goodbyes from just months earlier will pivot to “Welcome back!” for these two former Minnesota Timberwolves players?

Reunite or farewell with this forward?

When the Minnesota Timberwolves parted ways with 6-foot-8 forward Nathan Knight, there was a strong belief that he would catch on with another NBA team. It was never a case of him being a ‘bad’ player per se. Rather, in three seasons on the Timberwolves roster, Knight never seemed to step up to the next level. His numbers with the Atlanta Hawks as a rookie in 2020-21 appeared very much like his 2022-23 numbers with the Timberwolves.

For a big, he seems to lose position under the basket and fails to generate enough rebounds

Reasons why Wolves could reunite with Knight:

While not a strong component of his game, Knight has quietly developed a sneaky accurate perimeter shot. If the Timberwolves are truly entertaining thoughts of parting ways with All-Star power forward Karl-Anthony Towns at the 2024 NBA Trade Deadline, then a Two-Way contract for Nathan Knight would be a prudent investment.

Bigs that can score at a rate of 35 percent or better from beyond the arc deserve to get every opportunity to develop all aspects of their game. Knight may not be All-Star material just yet, but NBA Championship teams succeed because they have the best complete roster.

Reunite or farewell with this guard?

While the Timberwolves certainly enjoyed the upside of veteran shooting guard Jaylen Nowell in his first three NBA seasons, the way that he regressed so precipitously in his fourth season on the Timberwolves roster was a 4-bell alarm. Even as his minutes and points score increased, his shooting accuracy plummeted. The worst of which was his perimeter shooting, which fell off a cliff from 39.4 percent in 2021-22 to just 28.9 percent in 2022-23.

The belief was that Nowell could recapture his positive development with a change of scenery. But that hasn’t gone according to script:

Nowell is another version of a scoring shooting guard, much like former Wolves SG Malik Beasley. But if a shooting guard cannot score from the perimeter, and is not known for great defense, that lessens the chances of signing on with the Timberwolves.

Reasons why Wolves could reunite with Nowell:

The Minnesota Timberwolves are actively pursuing guards who may fit attempts to cross-train them to hybrid guards who could help to handle some of the point guard duties going forward. While I would not consider Jaylen Nowell to be ideally suited for that role, he did have an average of 2.0+ assists per game in two of his three seasons with the Timberwolves.

Nowell is not a bad shooting guard. It simply comes down to his skillset is already covered on the Timberwolves roster. Unless he has a new niche, he may not find a warm reception awaiting him with the Wolves.

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