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Offseason Primer, Part 1: Mark Your Calendars

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As the offseason approaches, Canis Hoopus wants you to be ready to boo or cheer our Timberwolves Front Office as they make decisions that will shape the future of this franchise in flux. Most fans see the offseason as a time to relax and think about things like family, work and vacation. Not Hoopus.

In Part 1 (I suppose it's technically part 2 after my post about how we got to where we are), we'll take a look at the fundamental timeline the Wolves face.

May 20: NBA Lottery. This is the day we find out what order the first 14 teams in the draft will pick. As it sits, the Wolves have the 3rd highest probability of getting #1. Here are the Wolves odds, by pick (hat tip to Ben Schuarmer):

  1. 13.80%
  2. 14.24%
  3. 14.54%
  4. 23.82%
  5. 29.05%
  6. 4.55%

For those of you keeping track, that means we have a 42.58% chance of picking in the top 3. Funny thing about the NBA lottery is that we actually have a better chance of picking 4-6 than we do 1-3. But thems the breaks.

June 26: NBA Draft. Here's where the magic happens. Barring any trades we'll have #1-6, #31 and #34. The thing I love about #31 is that we get the first pick that's not restricted by the first round salary scale. In short, we'll get our pick of the litter to sign to a minimum contract instead of a $2 million guarantee.

While this isn't known as a particularly deep draft, there should be some high quality prospects when the 2nd round rolls around.

June 30: Deadline to exercise options and tender qualifying offers. While the Wolves don't have any options (team, player or early termination) to exercise, we should keep our eyes on what other teams do. If teams or players decide to end a contract, that player becomes a free agent.

The qualifying offer part, though, should interest us a great deal. In order for a player to become a restricted free agent, their team must tender a qualifying offer. The Wolves have 5 players eligible (Telfair, Snyder, Gomes, Smith and Richard). While McHale has inferred that Gomes will definitely get a qualifying offer, everyone else is less clear.

The way they work, however, makes not tendering an offer seem illogical. After the qualifying offer is tendered, the team retains the right to match an offer to a restricted free agent. If no offer is made to the player, the qualifying offer becomes a one-year contract and the player becomes an unrestricted free agent the next year. The qualifying offers seem pretty reasonable as one-year contracts in a "worst-case" scenario (it's worth noting that some of my figures differ with other sources , but not by too much):

  • Telfair: $3,543,834
  • Snyder: $3,313,598
  • Gomes: $1,001,269
  • Smith: $972,581
  • Richard: $886,517

July 1: Salary cap year begins, July moratorium begins, raises take effect, free agents become free. As you can see, this is the big date. The July moratorium is simply the period between the start of the free agent period and the first date contracts can be signed.

July 8: July moratorium ends, free agent contracts can be signed, salary cap adjusts, contracts can be extended, free agents and draft picks can be renounced. As mentioned previously, this is when free agents can be signed.

It's worth noting that players become eligible for extensions. With rookie scale contracts this typically happens the year before they become a restricted free agent (as happened with Big Al). Rashad McCants is the only Wolves player that currently fits this bill.

Also, this is the first date that Michael Doleac's free agent rights can be renounced in order to recoup cap space. That sounds great, but the reality is that doing so would not get the Wolves under the cap enough to make a splash in the market.

October 31: Last day to exercise option years on scale contracts, last day contracts can be extended. The Wolves don't have any contacts to extend as of now.

Stay tuned True Blue-ievers. (trademarked)