Timberwolves offseason preview: KAT supermax, D’Angelo Russell crossroads and more

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The Minnesota Timberwolves not only finally got back into the playoffs but also proved to be a dangerous opponent. This roster had 11 players returning from the 2020-21 team, making them one of the franchises with the most continuity for this season. The biggest difference was head coach Chris Finch getting more time with the squad and fully integrating his system. Led by an All-NBA caliber season by Karl-Anthony Towns, along with a significant leap from Anthony Edwards, the Wolves are now a team for the present and the future.

Minnesota will have the most cap flexibility it’s had in years this offseason. While they have several core pieces set for the foreseeable future, they still have room for several new additions either in free agency or trade. They will also have several players with upcoming extensions whose futures may be decided this offseason.

Karl-Anthony Towns supermax

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There’s a strong possibility that Karl-Anthony Towns will be named as an All-NBA player this season. This would make him eligible to sign a supermax extension this offseason. It is currently projected at four years, $210.9 million, would begin in the 2024-25 season at a $47.1 million salary, and end with a $58.4 million salary in 2027-28.

Towns has seen minimal success with the Wolves in his seven-year career with them. They’ve only been to the playoffs twice and have finished among the bottom three in the Western Conference four times. The franchise has finally found a second cornerstone in Anthony Edwards and their performance this season and in their playoff matchup against Memphis gives them a lot to look forward to. It’s possible Towns might see enough of an upwards trajectory to sign the extension if it’s offered to him.

The supermax extension becoming a possibility could be the ultimate stress test of Towns’ future with the Wolves. If he does not sign that, it could spark trade speculation with his future in Minnesota in doubt. On the other hand, if Towns wants to sign it and the Wolves don’t want to commit all that to him, that could also fast forward a potential separation.

D'Angelo Russell and other extension-eligible players

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D’Angelo Russell will be extension-eligible throughout 2022-23 for up to four years, $168.7 million. He hasn’t quite been a maximum contract caliber player and has taken a lesser role in favor of Edwards. The Wolves could be approaching somewhat of a crossroads with him with only one year left on his contract.

The Wolves gave up a lot to acquire Russell two years ago in an attempt to make a playoff push. However, the front office that acquired him has been turned over, so it’s unclear if the new front office feels as strongly about him. He may not necessarily get traded if they don’t want to extend him long-term, but it wouldn’t be surprising if they started listening to offers on him.

The Wolves could decide they want to keep him long-term but also want him to test free agency first. If they could get him back at a team-friendly deal, then there’s no reason not to have him back. However, the Wolves could generate $40 million in cap space in 2023 if they do not retain Russell. This could be the Wolves’ one chance to have significant cap space for a while since Edwards will then be due for an extension.

Malik Beasley, Jaylen Nowell, and Naz Reid are other players who are extension-eligible this offseason, though those would be unlikely if the Wolves prioritize cap space in 2023. That $40 million cap space figure could reach $55 million if they decline Beasley’s $16.5 million team option for 2023-24.

Mid-level exception and filling out the roster

Minnesota is entering the offseason with 12 players under contract, assuming they exercise the $1.9 million team options of Reid and Nowell. They will be $26.5 million below the luxury tax, giving them plenty of space to fill out the roster, use their mid-level exception (MLE), and even increase payroll through trades.

The Wolves have not touched the MLE since the 2019-20 season due to close proximity to the luxury tax in both 2020-21 and 2021-22. They will be able to utilize the entire exception and could prioritize a backup center with it. Some players they can pursue include Mitchell Robinson and Montrezl Harrell. It’s possible they could pursue other alternatives for a portion of their MLE such as Andre Drummond, Serge Ibaka, and Robin Lopez, and still have some leftover for another player.

Minnesota’s two top free agents are Josh Okogie and Taurean Prince. Okogie fell out of the Wolves rotation early on in the season so it’s possible they let him become an unrestricted free agent. Prince has been playing consistent minutes off the bench so a reunion could be possible. The Wolves could choose to prioritize their MLE on wing if they don’t bring back either Okogie or Prince.

The Wolves have $60 million in potential tradeable salaries between their three highest-paid guards. They may not have the most appealing trade package for an All-Star compared to teams with more draft equity like the New Orleans Pelicans or New York Knicks, but they have all their draft picks going forward to make a competitive offer.

2022-23 SALARY SITUATION

Guaranteed salaries: $118,676,025

Non-guaranteed salaries: $3,861,362

Total salary: $122,537,387

Luxury tax space: $26.5 million

Exceptions:

Non-taxpayer Mid-level: $10,349,000

Bi-Annual: $4,050,000

Ricky Rubio trade exception: $4,750,000 (expires on July 1, 2022)

Karl-Anthony Towns

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2022-23 salary: $33,833,400

Remaining salary guaranteed: $69,849,600 through 2023-24

Additional notes: If Towns doesn’t earn All-NBA honors this season, he is still extension-eligible for up to three years, projected at $130.7 million.

He also has a 5 percent trade bonus worth $3.5 million if traded in the offseason, which would raise his 2022-23 and 2023-24 salaries by $1.7 million each.

D'Angelo Russell

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2022-23 salary: $31,377,750

Remaining salary guaranteed: $31,377,750

Additional notes: Russell is extension-eligible throughout the season for up to four years, $168.7 million.

Malik Beasley

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2022-23 salary: $15,558,035

Remaining salary guaranteed: $15,558,035

Additional notes: Beasley has a team option worth $16.5 million in 2023-24.

He is also extension-eligible for up to four years, $83.6 million if Minnesota declines his team option.

Patrick Beverley

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2022-23 salary: $13,000,000

Remaining salary guaranteed: $13,000,000

Anthony Edwards

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2022-23 salary: $10,733,400

Remaining salary guaranteed: $24,268,217 through 2023-24

Jarred Vanderbilt

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2022-23 salary: $4,374,000

Remaining salary guaranteed: $8,960,000 through 2023-24

Additional notes: Vanderbilt has $189,000 in incentives in 2022-23.

Leandro Bolmaro

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2022-23 salary: $2,471,160

Remaining salary guaranteed: $9,452,075 through 2024-25 (assuming team options on last two seasons are picked up)

Jaden McDaniels

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2022-23 salary: $2,161,440

Remaining salary guaranteed: $6,062,839 through 2023-24 (assuming team option for 2023-24 gets picked up)

Jordan McLaughlin

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2022-23 salary: $2,160,000

Remaining salary guaranteed: $2,160,000

Additional notes: McLaughlin has a $2.3 million salary for 2023-24 that is non-guaranteed.

He also has $100,000 in unlikely incentives.

Jaylen Nowell

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2022-23 salary: $1,930,681

Remaining salary guaranteed: $0

Additional notes: Minnesota can decline Nowell’s $1.9 million team option and make him a restricted free agent this offseason. If they exercise his option, his contract would remain non-guaranteed through the league-wide cutdown date.

He will also become extension-eligible throughout the season for up to four years, projected at $59 million.

Naz Reid

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2022-23 salary: $1,930,681

Remaining salary guaranteed: $0

Additional notes: Minnesota can decline Reid’s $1.9 million team option and make him a restricted free agent this offseason. If they exercise his option, his contract would remain non-guaranteed through July 20, 2022.

He will also become extension-eligible throughout the season for up to four years, projected at $59 million.

Taurean Prince

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Cap hold: $20,001,563

Type of free agent: Bird (unrestricted)

Additional Notes: Prince can still avoid free agency and extend with the Nets by June 30, 2022 for up to four years, $69.9 million.

Josh Okogie

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Cap hold: $12,263,712

Type of free agent: Bird (restricted)

Additional Notes: The Wolves can tender Okogie a $5.9 million qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent.

Jake Layman

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Cap hold: $7,486,350

Type of free agent: Bird (unrestricted)

Additional Notes: Layman can still avoid free agency and extend with the Nets by June 30, 2022 for up to four years, projected at $59 million.

Greg Monroe

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Cap hold: $1,811.516

Type of free agent: Non Bird (unrestricted)

Nathan Knight

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Cap hold: $1,616,044

Type of free agent: Non Bird (restricted)

McKinley Wright

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Cap hold: $1,616,044

Type of free agent: Non Bird (restricted)

2022 Pick No. 19

2022-23 salary: $3,006,840

Remaining salary guaranteed: $14,565,732 through 2025-26 (assuming team options on last two seasons are picked up)

Additional notes: HoopsHype and ForTheWin’s draft expert Bryan Kalbrosky has Blake Wesley as the 19th overall selection in his most recent mock draft. Kalbrosky also has EJ Liddell ranked as the 19th best prospect in his most recent big board.

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