All Things 2024 Minnesota Timberwolves Off-Season Thread

BleedGopher

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My guess is the biggest intrigue will be who our owner is. I doubt we’ll have a transformational trade, and our draft pick won’t be much of an impact player.

Howl Wolves!!
 



Gotta love sports. Last night the assumption was just the wolves would walk over Dallas and force a game 5. The game was over after 1 quarter for Minnesota. Sports are great cause we all know what’s gonna happen until it doesn’t.
 

KAT to the Knicks for Randall and a couple of picks? If Atlanta wants to trade Trae Young I am calling on that. Not sure the wolves have the firepower to get him, but KAT. Miller, NAW, and a pick would work.

I can’t see them trading Gobert given his contract, one more year and a player option.
 


Gotta love sports. Last night the assumption was just the wolves would walk over Dallas and force a game 5. The game was over after 1 quarter for Minnesota. Sports are great cause we all know what’s gonna happen until it doesn’t.
That game was over after 4 minutes. Luka was off his rocker. He should have drained one from actual mid-court in the first just for schits and giggles.
 

KAT to the Knicks for Randall and a couple of picks? If Atlanta wants to trade Trae Young I am calling on that. Not sure the wolves have the firepower to get him, but KAT. Miller, NAW, and a pick would work.

I can’t see them trading Gobert given his contract, one more year and a player option.
Dujuante Murray from Hawks would be perfect.

This team needs another scorer off of the dribble to help ant, smarter players, and a new coach. Finchy seems like a good guy but his free flow offense is a joke
 

That game was over after 4 minutes. Luka was off his rocker. He should have drained one from actual mid-court in the first just for schits and giggles.
They stopped hedging the donic screens. It worked in game 4. They didn't go back to it until the game was already over. Fire finch

Should have made pj washington, jones jr, exum, green beat you.
 

They stopped hedging the donic screens. It worked in game 4. They didn't go back to it until the game was already over. Fire finch

Should have made pj washington, jones jr, exum, green beat you.
They were doing it to start and doncic was bombing from 35 feet. And of course, then Kyrie went ballistic.

I'm still stunned at our defensive deficiencies in this series.
 



They were doing it to start and doncic was bombing from 35 feet. And of course, then Kyrie went ballistic.

I'm still stunned at our defensive deficiencies in this series.
They started by playing under the screen. Hard hedge, get the ball out of his hands


In all honesty, when I heard before game 1 it was going to be a "Kyle Anderson series," I should have driven to the nearest sports book and put my life.savings on the mavs
 


No changes needed.
I'm kind of in the same boat...I don't know the money situation so if they have to trim down contracts that's one thing but as far as the team goes I'm not really sure what you can realistically do to improve. Edwards and Towns just played like shit for 3 games and that is what cost us the series.

Without Towns you probably don't beat Denver and aren't even in the WCF.

You aren't getting anything for Gobert and he was a big reason they were successful in the regular season.

You're not trading Jaden or Naz.
 

I'm kind of in the same boat...I don't know the money situation so if they have to trim down contracts that's one thing but as far as the team goes I'm not really sure what you can realistically do to improve. Edwards and Towns just played like shit for 3 games and that is what cost us the series.

Without Towns you probably don't beat Denver and aren't even in the WCF.

You aren't getting anything for Gobert and he was a big reason they were successful in the regular season.

You're not trading Jaden or Naz.
The Gobert trade made for a cute regular season when the rest of the NBA plays at 3/4 speed at best but if he's on the court in games that matter, your other 4 guys better be able to score. But we're lucky if one of Ant or Kat goes off.
 



I'm kind of in the same boat...I don't know the money situation so if they have to trim down contracts that's one thing but as far as the team goes I'm not really sure what you can realistically do to improve. Edwards and Towns just played like shit for 3 games and that is what cost us the series.

Without Towns you probably don't beat Denver and aren't even in the WCF.

You aren't getting anything for Gobert and he was a big reason they were successful in the regular season.

You're not trading Jaden or Naz.
I'm of the belief that experience wins in the NBA. We have three big time contributors 24 and younger: Naz, Jaden and Ant. Can this team get better organically? Sure. It took the goat what? 6 seasons? But one has to take into account the other pieces. KAT has probably reached his peak and will probably plateau for a few years. Conley is in decline. Gobert certainly isn't going to get better (his trainer should be firing about 1,000 hard passes a day at him. How can he have such terrible hands? ).

If it's not organically, how can a trade improve this thing and who has value? KAT for Klay anyone?
 

The Gobert trade made for a cute regular season when the rest of the NBA plays at 3/4 speed at best but if he's on the court in games that matter, your other 4 guys better be able to score. But we're lucky if one of Ant or Kat goes off.
Gobert is a great player to have during the playoffs if your two stars are playing well. That didn't happen.
 


KAT to the Knicks for Randall and a couple of picks? If Atlanta wants to trade Trae Young I am calling on that. Not sure the wolves have the firepower to get him, but KAT. Miller, NAW, and a pick would work.

I can’t see them trading Gobert given his contract, one more year and a player option.
Randall and Mitchell Robinson works. Would probably need a third team to take one of them as that is a lot of non-3 pt. shooting coming in with Rudy still here.
 

I'm of the belief that experience wins in the NBA. We have three big time contributors 24 and younger: Naz, Jaden and Ant. Can this team get better organically? Sure. It took the goat what? 6 seasons? But one has to take into account the other pieces. KAT has probably reached his peak and will probably plateau for a few years. Conley is in decline. Gobert certainly isn't going to get better (his trainer should be firing about 1,000 hard passes a day at him. How can he have such terrible hands? ).

If it's not organically, how can a trade improve this thing and who has value? KAT for Klay anyone?
as far as regular season goes i don't think i'll continue to care as much moving forward...This team has shown home court means nothing to them.

As far as the team goes they need a good second weapon but not sure who you realistically target...it won't be Klay he just resigned.
 

as far as regular season goes i don't think i'll continue to care as much moving forward...This team has shown home court means nothing to them.

As far as the team goes they need a good second weapon but not sure who you realistically target...it won't be Klay he just resigned.
I was so invested in the #1 seed. What a waste
 

I don't pretend to understand the workings of the NBA salary cap.

but based on what I do understand, if you trade away a high-salary player, you have to take back salary that is close to what you trade away (or within a certain percentage). the rules are different whether a team is above or below the cap, and if a team is paying the luxury tax.

So if you're going to trade KAT, you have to bring back a pretty big amount of salary in return.

given the team's cap situation, they're not going to be signing high-priced free agents, and they are limited on trading away draft picks due to the aftermath of the Gobert trade.

In plain English - their options are limited. they need Leonard Miller to turn into a player, and they need some other young players (Minott, Moore, Clark) to develop into a viable rotation piece.

I am not saying they can't trade KAT. I'm just saying it's going to be tricky and that move by itself is not going to be a magic bullet that solves all their issues.
 

as far as regular season goes i don't think i'll continue to care as much moving forward...This team has shown home court means nothing to them.

As far as the team goes they need a good second weapon but not sure who you realistically target...it won't be Klay he just resigned.

Klay was heading towards FA, as of yesterday, as they discussed his status/best fits for him (Philly/Orlando) moving forward, on NBA Today. IIRC, FA starts on June 30.

Here is an article on it as well (from yesterday) -

 

I don't pretend to understand the workings of the NBA salary cap.

but based on what I do understand, if you trade away a high-salary player, you have to take back salary that is close to what you trade away (or within a certain percentage). the rules are different whether a team is above or below the cap, and if a team is paying the luxury tax.

So if you're going to trade KAT, you have to bring back a pretty big amount of salary in return.

given the team's cap situation, they're not going to be signing high-priced free agents, and they are limited on trading away draft picks due to the aftermath of the Gobert trade.

In plain English - their options are limited. they need Leonard Miller to turn into a player, and they need some other young players (Minott, Moore, Clark) to develop into a viable rotation piece.

I am not saying they can't trade KAT. I'm just saying it's going to be tricky and that move by itself is not going to be a magic bullet that solves all their issues.
If we traded Kat to a team well under the cap, we wouldn't have to take back salaries that are close to Kat's $50 million. I don't know the percentages involved, but we could save money with a deal. I hope they don't go that route.
 

If we traded Kat to a team well under the cap, we wouldn't have to take back salaries that are close to Kat's $50 million. I don't know the percentages involved, but we could save money with a deal. I hope they don't go that route.
DET is one of those teams. I'm sure Cade is off limits but a package of Duren, Ivey and a pick would be a nice haul. (Wishful thinking)
 

Shama chimes in:

This team produced one of the best years in franchise history dating back to 1989-1990. That success has also set up an intriguing offseason. Among the drama will be the following:

Who is going to have majority ownership of the Wolves and WNBA Lynx? Arbitration and later a vote by the NBA’s owners will settle the issue. That vote will be very interesting not only because Glen Taylor has a long time relationships with the league’s other 29 owners that could favor him in the outcome. Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez are trying to close on a sales price of $1.5 billion for the Wolves and Lynx that was agreed to in 2021. With NBA franchises now valued at $3 billion and more, do the owners want to see a club sold for $1.5 billion? Prediction here: Taylor will emerge from the legal dispute with Lore and Rodriguez as the controlling owner.

President of basketball operations Tim Connelly, who took over as the front office basketball boss in 2022, reportedly has an opt out now in his contract. Will the architect who put the pieces together elevating the team from mediocre to championship contender want to leave? The push to bring Connelly to Minneapolis from Denver was led by Lore and Rodriquez but the opinion here is the valued decision maker will stay on working for Taylor and wanting to further build on his work.

How will ownership and Connelly approach an expensive player payroll that as constructed now will put them way over the NBA salary cap? Speculation is ownership will have to pay over $25 million in luxury tax to keep an expensive core together led by Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert and others. Spotrac.com projects the payroll at over $190 million for next season, one of the highest figures in the league.

But if all the key players return the Wolves will be sitting on a box office and marketing bonanza with fans. Presumably they could generate revenues from varied sources to cover the luxury tax expense while driving up the value of the franchise if success duplicates or exceeds last season. Taylor, 83, has never seen his team win an NBA title and might have a “let’s go for the ring” approach this offseason.

How does this team get better? Significant improvement will come organically from a roster mostly of young players led by Anthony Edwards, 22, Jaden McDaniels, 23, and Naz Reid, 24. It requires experience to win championships and these players have big upsides on a roster that potentially has its top six guys returning.

New pieces? The Wolves need a plan that sooner or later will replace valued 36-year-old veteran point guard Mike Conley Jr. Other wants should be to add more consistent and clutching scoring, ideally from a big-time veteran or prospect (possible Towns trade?), and develop a deeper bench to go along with NBA Sixth Man of the Year Reid.

Those needs will go through Connelly’s mind in a rare NBA Draft where the Wolves haven’t mortgaged away their selections. Minnesota has the No. 27 and 37 picks in next month’s draft.

In some towns just the approaching draft, free agent signings and trades would provide the offseason focus but not here there is even more anticipation about what’s next.


Howl Wolves!!
 

Shama chimes in:

This team produced one of the best years in franchise history dating back to 1989-1990. That success has also set up an intriguing offseason. Among the drama will be the following:

Who is going to have majority ownership of the Wolves and WNBA Lynx? Arbitration and later a vote by the NBA’s owners will settle the issue. That vote will be very interesting not only because Glen Taylor has a long time relationships with the league’s other 29 owners that could favor him in the outcome. Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez are trying to close on a sales price of $1.5 billion for the Wolves and Lynx that was agreed to in 2021. With NBA franchises now valued at $3 billion and more, do the owners want to see a club sold for $1.5 billion? Prediction here: Taylor will emerge from the legal dispute with Lore and Rodriguez as the controlling owner.

President of basketball operations Tim Connelly, who took over as the front office basketball boss in 2022, reportedly has an opt out now in his contract. Will the architect who put the pieces together elevating the team from mediocre to championship contender want to leave? The push to bring Connelly to Minneapolis from Denver was led by Lore and Rodriquez but the opinion here is the valued decision maker will stay on working for Taylor and wanting to further build on his work.

How will ownership and Connelly approach an expensive player payroll that as constructed now will put them way over the NBA salary cap? Speculation is ownership will have to pay over $25 million in luxury tax to keep an expensive core together led by Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert and others. Spotrac.com projects the payroll at over $190 million for next season, one of the highest figures in the league.

But if all the key players return the Wolves will be sitting on a box office and marketing bonanza with fans. Presumably they could generate revenues from varied sources to cover the luxury tax expense while driving up the value of the franchise if success duplicates or exceeds last season. Taylor, 83, has never seen his team win an NBA title and might have a “let’s go for the ring” approach this offseason.

How does this team get better? Significant improvement will come organically from a roster mostly of young players led by Anthony Edwards, 22, Jaden McDaniels, 23, and Naz Reid, 24. It requires experience to win championships and these players have big upsides on a roster that potentially has its top six guys returning.

New pieces? The Wolves need a plan that sooner or later will replace valued 36-year-old veteran point guard Mike Conley Jr. Other wants should be to add more consistent and clutching scoring, ideally from a big-time veteran or prospect (possible Towns trade?), and develop a deeper bench to go along with NBA Sixth Man of the Year Reid.

Those needs will go through Connelly’s mind in a rare NBA Draft where the Wolves haven’t mortgaged away their selections. Minnesota has the No. 27 and 37 picks in next month’s draft.

In some towns just the approaching draft, free agent signings and trades would provide the offseason focus but not here there is even more anticipation about what’s next.


Howl Wolves!!

That was a well written and organized article. So, who wrote it🤠?

Thanks for posting
 


The Athletic: Timberwolves’ offseason questions: Ownership fight, Tim Connelly and a looming bill

Anthony Edwards sat down at a podium days before a Minnesota Timberwolves season filled with more swagger and sizzle than any season that had come before it came to a humbling conclusion.

Edwards was sure the Timberwolves were championship-ready, no matter how deep the hole they were in during the Western Conference finals. They had climbed a mountain to defeat Denver in the conference semifinals, twice staving off elimination to dethrone the defending champions, so a 3-1 deficit to the Dallas Mavericks with Game 5 at home was just as doable for the precocious 22-year-old star.

Then Luka Dončić gave Edwards a lesson in how far away the Wolves truly are. The Slovenian has walked in Edwards’ shoes. He tasted defeat as a 23-year-old in the 2022 conference finals, and now it was his turn to dish it out. Dončić scored 20 of his 36 points in the first quarter Thursday night, knocking out Edwards and the Wolves well before halftime of the Mavs’ series-clinching win.

As he tried to process it all afterward, the season, the loss, their rise and fall, Edwards was certain of one thing: This was only the beginning.

“It’s a lot of our guys’ first time being in this light, especially me,” Edwards said. “It’s my first time. But we’ll be ready, man. We’ll be all right. First time. Took a loss. Congratulations to the Mavericks. But we’ll be back.”

If only it could be that easy. Before the Wolves can look to build on the considerable success they enjoyed this season, they have some existential questions to answer.

President of basketball operations Tim Connelly can opt out of his contract and become a free agent in the coming days. Team governor Glen Taylor is battling with Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez to see who will own the team. And whoever wins the fight for ownership is about to have a gigantic luxury tax bill, which will factor into whether the team runs it back next season with the same core or trades pieces to reconfigure the roster.

That’s a lot for a team with so much young talent and so much promise to figure out.

“You can’t skip any steps,” coach Chris Finch said. “The West is going to be a monster next year, as it continues to be every year. There were a lot of things we did well this year. I’m super proud of our guys. Just building another layer of foundation to try to get where we want to go.”


By any measure, this Timberwolves season was an unmitigated and unexpected success. They were coming off an underwhelming first season with Rudy Gobert and hearing a legion of skeptics on his pairing with Karl-Anthony Towns in the frontcourt. The response was emphatic.

Their 56 wins in the regular season were the second-most in franchise history. They advanced in the playoffs for just the second time in Minnesota’s 35 seasons in the NBA, beating the defending champion Nuggets on the road in Game 7 to advance to the franchise’s first conference finals in 20 years. They were the No. 1 defense in the league this season, 2.2 points per 100 possessions better than second-place Boston.

Edwards became a household name. Gobert won his fourth NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. Towns was named to his fourth All-Star team. Naz Reid won NBA Sixth Man of the Year, Jaden McDaniels was All-Defense second team and the Timberwolves enjoyed a level of popularity within their market not seen in decades, if ever.

They sold every ticket available for all 41 regular-season home games for the first time since Target Center opened in 1990. Season tickets sold jumped from 3,200 to 11,000. Local television ratings were up 150 percent from two years ago. Thousands of fans flooded the streets of downtown Minneapolis for a block party during Games 2 and 5 against Dallas. Wolves gear was omnipresent in the community.

“The way the city has gotten behind the team, it’s been special,” Finch said. “We’ve always said from the time we got here we want to put out a team that people are proud to root for and play the right way. We feel like we do that. Now we’ve just got to keep fine-tuning everything.”

It will take more than fine-tuning to set the direction going forward.

It starts with ownership. A three-year plan to have Lore and Rodriguez succeed Taylor as majority owners of the Wolves and the WNBA’s Lynx was detonated this spring, with Taylor abruptly pronouncing that the teams are “no longer for sale” because he said Lore and Rodriguez could not come up with the money to complete the transaction in time to meet the deadline in the purchase agreement.

Lore and Rodriguez vehemently disputed the characterization, saying that they secured the funding and filed paperwork with the league a week before the deadline and were eligible for a 90-day extension to secure league approval, per the contract.

The two sides are now locked in a bitter dispute over who owns the franchise. A three-person arbitration panel has been selected, league sources told The Athletic, and both sides have filed briefs to be reviewed to start the process. It is unclear how long it will take to complete, but it could last all summer, which complicates the path forward from a team-building aspect.

A compromise has gone nowhere, including at a mediation session in early May. Both sides are dug in on their positions. The hard feelings are only getting harder.

On multiple occasions earlier in these playoffs, Taylor tried to approach Lore and Rodriguez to greet them either before or during games, team and arena sources who witnessed the interactions told The Athletic. Taylor even tried to hug Rodriguez at one point, only to be rebuffed, team sources said.

Lore and Rodriguez remain deeply angered by Taylor’s decision to call off their agreement. When Taylor made the initial announcement, Lore said it was “like a nuclear bomb” went off. He and Rodriguez have vowed to fight for the team for as long as it takes, arguing that Taylor acted in bad faith by calling the deal off at the last minute.


Connelly will have to make his decision before the dispute is resolved. Now that the season is over, he has a window that allows him to opt out of the five-year contract he signed in 2022. The clause was put into the contract to give Connelly flexibility if the ownership situation was not settled, but he also could use it as leverage for a new contract given the team’s historic success this season.

Connelly left the Denver Nuggets, where he assembled the core of the team that won the title last season, to take over the Wolves at a time when the ownership of the team was in transition. Lore and Rodriguez led the recruitment process. Taylor met with the Connelly family at his home and approved the significant expenditure to lure him away. At the time, Connelly was told that Taylor would retain control for two more seasons before handing things over to Lore and Rodriguez. But the dissolution of the partnership between the two sides has left people throughout the organization unsure of who will run the team long term.

The Timberwolves were very concerned about the Detroit Pistons potentially swooping in to make Connelly a lucrative offer, team sources told The Athletic, but those fears were allayed last week when the Pistons hired Trajan Langdon to run their basketball operations.

There are no other teams with an immediate front-office opening for Connelly, but should he exercise the option after helping build the Nuggets into champions and the Timberwolves into contenders, another team could change course and go after him.

While the ownership dispute plays out, Taylor remains in full control. He intends to meet with Connelly to discuss his future now that the season is over, team sources said.

If Connelly stays and completes next season with Finch as the head coach, it would be the first time the Wolves had the same lead executive and head coach for three consecutive seasons since 2003-04.

Meanwhile, there is unlikely to be any real progress on the ownership front before the Wolves enter the draft at the end of June or free agency in July. The uncertainty has put a strain on the entire Wolves operation, from the business and marketing sides to the basketball operations department.

“We’re all caught in the middle,” one Wolves employee said on condition of anonymity because employees are not authorized to speak publicly on the situation.

That makes mapping out the future of this team more complicated than it normally would be, especially for a roster that is about to get expensive.

Edwards’ salary will jump from $13.5 million this season to more than $42 million next year, thanks to his All-NBA fourth season. Towns will make about $49 million next season in the first year of his max contract extension and Gobert is due almost $44 million. That is $135 million tied up in their three top players. McDaniels’ extension kicks in to $22.5 million, Reid is set to make $14 million and Mike Conley $10 million, which puts the Wolves at roughly $181.5 million for six players.

The luxury tax line is projected to be $172 million for next season with the punitive second apron tier at around $190 million. Spending over that amount can restrict a team’s ability to trade future draft picks, sign and trade players and use the salary cap exceptions to sign free agents.

Taylor has indicated internally a willingness to pay the luxury tax to keep the team competitive, team sources said. Lore and Rodriguez have said they would do the same should they prevail in their fight to buy the team.

If either side decided to cut payroll, Towns’ max salary and a frontcourt that also has Gobert and Reid as bigs would get trade machine aficionados cracking their knuckles. Towns has spent all nine of his seasons in Minnesota and said he wants to come back for a 10th.

“I’m confident I’ll be able to be here with my brothers and continue what I love to do here at home,” Towns said. “So that’s the plan, nothing’s changed on my side. I love this organization. I love this city. It’s given me my life, me and my family.”


The battle for ownership is fierce because there is so much to be excited about.

Edwards rocketed into stardom in his fourth season, using his experience with Team USA at the FIBA World Cup as a springboard into the conversation of future faces of the league. He made his second All-Star team, was voted All-NBA second team and gained valuable experience by playing deep into the playoffs at just 22. He will represent Team USA at the Paris Olympics this summer and return next season as a box office draw and the kind of player the Wolves believe will ensure competitiveness for the foreseeable future.

The 4-1 loss in the conference finals was disappointing for a team that looked fully capable of winning a championship after beating the Nuggets, but this is all part of the learning curve for young stars climbing the league’s ladder.

Michael Jordan lost in the conference finals twice before breaking through to win a title in his seventh season. Kobe Bryant was swept by Utah in his first conference finals. Dwyane Wade and Dončić lost their first appearances as well.

“I’ve never played this deep into a basketball season,” Edwards said. “So now I know, like, OK, for me to be dominant in the third round and if we get past this and finally go to the finals, I’ve got to train like I’m going to go to the playoffs. So I can’t be missing training days; I can’t take days off. … I’ve got to be ready.”

Edwards was surrounded by a tight-knit team, one with such strong chemistry that it decided as a group that no player would appear on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” postgame show after their victory in Game 4 in Dallas, team sources told The Athletic. The decision was a sign of support for Gobert and Towns, who were the subject of derisive and seemingly personal criticism from panelist and Golden State forward Draymond Green.

“We’ve been through a lot of adversity as a group over the last two years, individually, collectively, and that never broke us,” Gobert said. “That made us better. I don’t think we plan on giving up now. It’s been some amazing progress. And we gotta keep going through that.”

That togetherness fueled this Wolves team. It led to a bounce-back season from Towns, who was integral in the playoff wins over Phoenix and Denver. It led to one of Gobert’s best individual seasons, featuring more versatility on defense and more involvement on offense than most seasons in his career.

McDaniels is 23, Reid is 24 and valuable reserve Nickeil Alexander-Walker is 25, giving them a core of exciting, young talent that should have some staying power.

Finch coached the Western Conference All-Star team, further establishing himself as one of the better coaches in the league. He has led the Wolves to playoff appearances in all three of his full seasons and has engendered broad support within the locker room for his approach.

Despite the disappointment of the series loss to the Mavericks, the Wolves can look back at their epic series against Denver with pride. They won three times in Denver and twice staved off elimination after the Nuggets took a 3-2 series lead. The Wolves responded with a 45-point victory in Game 6 before recording the biggest comeback in a Game 7 in NBA history when they roared back from 20 down in the third quarter on the Nuggets’ home floor.

The days of the Timberwolves being ignored by the league’s television partners — they were scheduled for just five games on ESPN or TNT at the start of the season — appear to be over. Edwards’ drawing power and the team’s success give them a foundation to build upon going forward.


Before the playoffs began, Conley, the 36-year-old point guard and team’s elder statesman with a doctorate in NBA humanities, had a message for his young teammates. Enjoy this moment, and the championship opportunity that he believed was presented, because nothing is promised going forward.

Conley was a 25-year-old just coming into his prime with an up-and-coming Memphis Grizzlies team that made a stirring run to the Western Conference finals in 2013. Conley figured at the time that he would be back right away and that an NBA Finals appearance was the logical next step.

It took him 11 years and three teams to get back to the conference finals. He is still looking for that first chance to play for the Larry O’Brien Trophy. When the Wolves lost the first three games by a combined 13 points, it all but sealed their fate in a series they started as favorites.

“I feel like we were right there,” Conley said. “I feel like early in the series we had a couple of games that we let slip that could have turned this series and we could be looking at things a lot differently, so it’s frustrating, but these things don’t happen by chance. It’s part of the journey for a lot of us.”

As long as they have Edwards as the face, the Wolves have a chance. After missing the playoffs as a rookie and playing in empty arenas due to COVID-19, Edwards has been in the playoffs for three consecutive seasons.

When he told TNT’s Charles Barkley to “Bring ya ass” to Minnesota for the Western Conference finals, it served as a rallying cry for a Wolves fan base that was soaking up the sun after so many years of being left out in the cold.

The Naz Reid beach towel became a must-have item. A tattoo artist doled out $20 Naz Reid tattoos by the hundreds.

“I think that’s what makes this so disappointing,” said Towns, who went 1 of 6 from 3-point range in Game 5 and struggled with his shot all series. “The fans deserved a chance to see the finals. Of course, we feel we put the work in, but these fans all these years, they’ve given so much this playoff season, it hurts that we let them down. It’s tough.”

McDaniels was in foul trouble for nearly the entirety of Game 5, Edwards did not get going until the second half, Reid went 2 of 10 and Gobert had an ineffective nine points and five rebounds in a game the Wolves trailed by 36 points.

“I think we had a great season,” Reid said. “But I just wish we didn’t go out like that.”

When Wolves fans look back on this season, they will remember the dunks and blocks from Edwards, the revival of Gobert, the playoff sweep of Phoenix and that Game 7 triumph in Denver.

What remains to be seen is if, years down the road, this team will join Minnesota’s 2003-04 Western Conference finals team as a rare, memorable Wolves success story in the middle of an otherwise forgettable existence. Or will it be thought of as the team that galvanized a community, christened a new star and forever changed the way people think about this organization?

“We have to believe that this isn’t our ceiling,” Conley said. “These are steps toward our goal. The ultimate goal is to be a championship team. We made strides. We did.”


Howl Wolves!!
 

What we've seen is that Connelly does not flinch when he sees the need or opportunity to make a drastic move. The question is whether he'd exercise restraint and pass up the chance to make a drastic move if the answer is to let the current roster grow and develop maturity. One way or another, his performance building a championship team in Denver and the job he's done here so far have bought him trust. I trust him to make good decisions.
 

What we've seen is that Connelly does not flinch when he sees the need or opportunity to make a drastic move. The question is whether he'd exercise restraint and pass up the chance to make a drastic move if the answer is to let the current roster grow and develop maturity. One way or another, his performance building a championship team in Denver and the job he's done here so far have bought him trust. I trust him to make good decisions.
If N.Y. is really interested in trading Julius Randle, does Connely bite? Randle and Mitchell Robinson work for Towns or Rudy. All speculation of course, but that is what the off-season is for.
 

The Athletic: Minnesota Timberwolves face a fraught financial future, but it might be worth it

There are plenty of reasons the Minnesota Timberwolves’ ownership drama creates challenges for the franchise. One of the biggest: Minnesota’s finances are about to dramatically increase.

One of the “good problems” front offices can face is when players are in line for deserved paydays, such as Anthony Edwards’ extension that kicks in for the 2024-25 campaign. A jump from $13.5 million to $35 million-plus is always going to change a franchise’s ledger, and Edwards delivering an All-NBA season pushes his deal to the 30 percent max, which would start at $42.3 million based on the league’s current salary cap projection. There is zero doubt everyone involved is happy to pay the rising star that sum, but it comes at an additional cost because of other obligations the Timberwolves already have.

That starts with Karl-Anthony Towns’ extension, which also kicks in next season. Like Edwards, the big man inked his extension last offseason. That deal also pushes to the top of Minnesota’s salary table even if we do not know the exact number until the NBA finalizes the cap numbers.

Teams can handle having two players at significant salaries without getting to any luxury tax burden, but the Timberwolves have far more than that on their books, with Rudy Gobert getting a big chunk as well. The 2024 Defensive Player of the Year was key to Minnesota’s defense and overall team success, which makes his $42.8 million price tag for next season easier to take than it would have been after his first season in Minnesota. We won’t know the exact figure for another few months, but the trio of Edwards, Towns and Gobert should make approximately $134.5 million combined next season, $6.5 million below the projected salary cap.

It would be hard to fill out a roster and stay all the way below the luxury tax line with three players at that combined wage, but the Timberwolves also have Jaden McDaniels starting his extension at a reasonable $22.6 million and fellow starter Mike Conley on a team-friendly $10 million deal for the upcoming season. That means the Timberwolves’ starting five could make $167 million next season, just short of the luxury tax line.

Should that matter? Not necessarily for a team that led the Western Conference most of the season before dispatching the reigning champions on its way to the conference finals, and the Timberwolves could be even better moving forward if Edwards and McDaniels continue to improve. Of course, that also depends on another variable central to this conversation: Ownership’s willingness to pay both now and later.

Without retaining their pending free agents, the 2024-25 Timberwolves will be approximately $17 million over the projected tax line for an additional $36.4 million payment and a total player-plus-tax outlay of $226 million. That is both a significant and justifiable sum for one of the best teams in the NBA. That is where the ownership drama matters the most.

Whether to pay the tax and how large of a bill to take on is always an ownership-level decision with a ton of variance. We have already seen mudslinging in the Glen Taylor/Marc Lore/Alex Rodriguez dispute, and this may be a question without a clear answer for the time being.

Some front offices know the tax is a hard line for them. Some, such as the Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns, see it as a smaller bump in the road. Most teams operate between those two extremes, paying when appropriate but generally staying under. The key questions for the Wolves are which camp they end up in and whether their projected level of success justifies that kind of price tag if the decision is up in the air.

The Wolves must also consider the duration of time they spent over the tax threshold. Right now, Minnesota’s books look very similar in 2025-26 to the 2024-25, except that the cap will likely rise a full 10 percent due to the new national TV deal kicking in. All five starters are already under contract for that season unless Gobert decides to decline his player option. He would theoretically do that to secure a longer commitment, even at a lower annual salary, which would lower Minnesota’s total obligation for that season.

As such, it’s fair to expect the Wolves to be similarly expensive for two seasons before more variance kicks in as Gobert’s and Conley’s current contracts expire. A two-year tax bill seems like a reasonable minimum with the Wolves’ current roster, but a softening from that point is entirely possible.

The Wolves must decide whether they can trim salary without sacrificing team quality, and that is a challenging question in this case. As so few players outside of the starters make large amounts, there are not many options for deals there, so the choices get tough pretty quickly.

Undoubtedly, the most fascinating of those is whether Sixth Man of the Year Naz Reid would be able to step into Towns’ shoes as the starting power forward, and there is an argument that he can. In the stretch Towns missed in March and April, Reid averaged 17 points and seven rebounds on respectable efficiency as a starter. Towns’ disappointing help defense makes replacing him on that end much more manageable, especially with Gobert anchoring the defense. Still, theoretically parting with one of the league’s most intriguing 7-footers is a downgrade and even tougher to swallow for the team and fans alike if it is done primarily for financial reasons. Still, it is a path.

The front office could similarly trim costs by offloading Reid, which would be more about reducing a tax bill than eliminating it entirely, but this season has shown the value in having a viable Towns replacement on the roster. The Timberwolves do not have similar replacements for Gobert, Conley or McDaniels. Hypothetical moves involving them are far more complicated in terms of filling out a credible starting and closing five, especially as many trade partners are less interested in trading like-for-like in these circumstances.

One other note to remember: The NBA does not calculate the luxury tax until the end of the season, so it’s possible to reduce salary in-season rather than during the offseason without having to pay a tax bill on the players you had under contract and later traded. That said, the new collective bargaining agreement’s rules on the salary floor are forcing cap space teams to use a much larger portion of their flexibility before the regular season begins, and one of the ripple effects of that change is that it is much harder to shed salary in-season than it was a few years ago. The pathway to seeing how the 2024-25 campaign goes before adjusting at the deadline is still feasible, but keeping this roster intact and then ducking all the way under the tax appears extremely unlikely.

The best news for the Timberwolves is that the second-best regular season in franchise history and second conference finals appearance puts them in a much better place. It remains to be seen how Taylor or Lore/Rodriguez controlling the franchise fundamentally changes the willingness to spend.

No matter how that part shakes out, the ramifications for the Timberwolves are massive because their bill is coming due, and there are no clear paths to avoiding a significant bill without making their roster materially worse at the wrong time. The front office has a spectacularly tough job to do and likely doesn’t even know its constraints just a few months away from the new league year starting.


Howl Wolves!!
 




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