While trying to figure out went has gone wrong with the Minnesota Timberwolves over the past 30 years, all the blame must shift on the owner Glen Taylor. In the 31 years that the T-Wolves have been an NBA Franchise, they’ve been able to reach just one division title and one NBA Playoff Series Win. As a result of this, Taylor has put the Franchise up for other suitors to buy, and Kevin Garnett looks like the favorite to buy the team. A changing of the guard might just be what the T-Wolves need. Minnesota did the bulk of their offseason work at the trade deadline, as they acquired All-Star PG/SG D’Angelo Russell to team up with Karl Anthony Towns and create a deadly 1-2 punch offensively. The Timberwolves also obtained complementary shooters in Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez to make the offense even better. Minnesota was even able to offload Andrew Wiggins' horrendous contract to the Warriors.
When you thought the offseason couldn’t get better for the Timberwolves, it did. Minnesota won the NBA Draft Lottery, as they are picking at #1 in the 2020 NBA Draft. Defense should be this team’s #1 priority, but Minnesota has a lot more flexibility with their assets in this offseason than you might think. In this article, we will be discussing the relevant free agents the Timberwolves should keep tabs on, who they should select with the #1 overall pick in the Draft, and who they should try to re-sign this offseason to set themselves up for an NBA Title run in 2021.
The Coaching/Front Office Situation
As we’ve already discussed the situation with the Timberwolves’ Owner Glen Taylor, we can push this issue aside and talk about Minnesota’s Head Coach Ryan Saunders. Saunders is well-liked by the organization and the players and is the son of legendary Head Coach Flip Saunders. All of this is great, but this isn’t making him a good NBA head coach. If Saunders was unsigned by an NBA Team and was trying to get a job, do you think anyone would try to sign him? Yeah, I didn’t think so. The T-Wolves will probably give Saunders another year and then make their decision. What the Timberwolves should do is fire Saunders and sign Kenny Atkinson. Atkinson wouldn’t have a problem trying to turn the Timberwolves around, as he already did that with Brooklyn. Atkinson also coached Russell while he was an All-Star in Brooklyn, so I wouldn’t be shocked if Russell drastically improves his game. If the Timberwolves wait until next season to fire Saunders and then sign Atkinson, it could be too late as Atkinson will be highly coveted by other teams this off-season.
As for trades, Minnesota should try to target a 3-D wing. With that being said, the Timberwolves trade James Johnson, Jacob Evans, and the 17th overall pick for Kelly Oubre Jr. Oubre would be a great fit alongside D’Lo and Kat, and will hold his ground on Defense, something Towns and Rusell haven’t been able to do. Minnesota will also be able to get off Johnson’s contract, which will free up some cap space for free agent acquisitions. As for Phoenix, they get a valuable 1st round pick and get off Oubre’s 15-million-dollar contract and open up money to spend elsewhere.
2020 NBA Draft*
Unlike in previous years of selecting #1 overall, there isn’t a clear-cut choice for Minnesota this year. There is no Zion Williamson, Lebron James, or Shaquille O’ Neal in this Draft. Needless to say, Minnesota has a plethora of choices they can go with here. Most likely, the T-Wolves will go with LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, or James Wiseman. The best choice of the three would be Edwards. Although Edwards struggled behind the 3-point line in College, shooting just 29% from downtown, this will be overlooked because Russell and Towns will pick up some of that slack. Edwards averaged 19.1 PPG, 5.2 RPG, and 2.8 APG as a freshman, resulting in him winning the 2019-2020 SEC Rookie of the Year award. Edward’s defensive skills can't be overlooked, either. Edwards would be the defensive specialist Minnesota has missed since Kevin Garnett. Edwards was a great shooting guard as a freshman at Georgia, and I believe he can move to small forward if he needs to with the T-Wolves starting lineup because of his great size and athleticism. A young core of Edwards, Russell, Towns, and Josh Okogie would be scary for years to come. (*The T-Wolves also have the Nets’ 1st round pick, but that is traded to Phoenix for Kelly Oubre)
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Relevant Free Agents to try to Re-Sign
Minnesota’s relevant players to try and resign are Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez, both of whom were acquired at the Trade Deadline. Let’s start with Beasley. Beasley is a Restricted Free Agent, meaning Minnesota can offer Beasley the most money and years on his contract. If Beasley wants to sign somewhere else instead of playing in Minnesota, he can, but he’ll just take less money. I think Minnesota should do everything in their power to resign Beasley. After Beasley was traded from Denver to Minnesota, Beasley played great. Beasley averaged 20.7 PPG, 5.1 RPG, and 1.9 APG in 14 games. Beasley also shot a career-high 42.6% from the 3-point line. I understand that he only played in 14 games, but we could Beasley already having a role on this team in just those 14 games. As for Hernangomez, I think the T-Wolves should also bring him back in free agency. Hernangomez averaged 12.1 PPG, 7.3 RPG, and 1.3 APG in just 14 games with the Timberwolves. Much like Beasley, we could see an immediate impact from both guys in limited amounts of playing time.
Relevant Free Agents to try and sign
With a young, explosive core consisting of Towns, Russell, Edwards, Okogie, Oubre, and Beasley, Minnesota shouldn’t try to sign Brandon Ingram or Fred Vanvleet. Minnesota isn’t ready to contend in the West, and this would tie up excess money that you wouldn’t be able to give Edwards, Towns, or Russell when they need a contract extension. With that being said, let’s look at two, cheap free agent acquisitions that could immensely help the T-Wolves roster.
1. Jerami Grant, SF/PF
Grant is a 3-D Wing who has been great as a shooter and a defender, something the Timberwolves could desperately use. Grant averaged 12.0 PPG, 3.5 RPG, and 1.2 APG while hitting 38.9% of his 3-point-attempts in 71 games this season. Defense was also a positive for Grant, as he averaged 0.7 SPG and 0.8 BPG. Grant’s defense would make up for Towns' suspect defense, and Towns' offense would make up for some of Grant’s offense. The biggest issue with this signing would be the T-Wolves would have to get Hernangomez to sign for a little less than his market value, but Hernangomez might be willing to take a pay-cut to make the team better. Grant does have a player option, meaning the T-Wolves will have to pay up to get Grant on the team, but they absolutely should for such a great fit.
2. Joe Harris, SF
Harris was an absolute machine behind the 3-Point line this season. The former 3-Point Champion was able to hit 42.4% of his 3-Point attempts this year with the Nets, along with 47% from the field. Harris isn’t a defensive specialist by any means, but Harris would fit in nicely in the lineup, whether he’s starting or not. Harris could provide some much-needed offense and defense that Minnesota could desperately use, along with him being a veteran presence in the locker room at 29 years-old. For a team that’s going to attempt a ton of 3’s next season, Harris would be an excellent fit in Minnesota.