Cap-strapped T-wolves in tricky spot for summer improvement
Published 9:10 am Saturday, June 30, 2018
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Timberwolves made major strides this season in ending their 13-year absence from the NBA playoffs after a franchise-altering trade for All-Star Jimmy Butler.
With cornerstones Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins in their early 20s and veterans Taj Gibson and Jeff Teague coming off productive debuts in Minnesota, there is a sturdy starting lineup in place around Butler to ideally take the Timberwolves deeper in the next postseason.
Advancement is easier stated than consummated.
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The Wolves, even with coach Tom Thibodeau’s preference to give his first-teamers heavy minutes, need to add depth this summer with defense and 3-point shooting atop the skill-set wish list. There is no clear way to acquire more of it, though, after making the logical first moves by drafting versatile wing players Josh Okogie and Keita Bates-Diop last week .
Wiggins will begin playing on his maximum contract in 2018-19, with a $25 million-plus salary that will account for more than 20 percent of the team’s cap and push the Timberwolves close to the luxury tax threshold. That means they won’t be spending aggressively in free agency, with the negotiation period set to start on Sunday. They’ll have to find some candidates on the market willing to sign for less, perhaps for the veteran minimum, to fill out the bench.
“With some players they may not have the deal that they initially wanted,” Thibodeau said, “but this may be the best opportunity in terms of the playing and the winning and then that sets it up for the following year.”