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Wednesday Musings: U.S. Eliminated, Ryan Saunders Joins Staff, Free Agency Updates

Yesterday the United States Mens National Soccer Team was eliminated by Belgium, the Wolves officially signed Ryan Saunders as an assistant coach, and a few teams were active on the free agent market. These are the musings for Wednesday, July 2nd of 2014.

Mike Ehrmann

And here we are.

The Dream is Over.

Eric's been doing World Cup Coverage, and because the USA has been eliminated, I figured I'd touch on that. This is how rookies become brown noses, or something.

The United States Mens National Team was defeated by Belgium, 2-1, yesterday, in the first knockout stage of the World Cup. The US would have met Lionel Messi and the Argentinians for their next match, but alas, the run in Brazil is over after escaping the group of death, and almost miraculously bringing Tuesday's game to penalty kicks after falling 2-0 in Extra Time. Albeit underdogs, there was belief the USMNT could have advanced into the second round of the elimination portion of the tournament. They made a splash on the global stage-- despite Jurgen Klinsmann's rigorous downplay of the expectations were for his US club entering the World Cup.

Klinsmann is adamant that instilling a rich, competitive, 'why not us' attitude amidst soccer culture in America is something on top the to-do list. Thus far, he's cut the most recognizable face in American soccer's history and vocalized he doesn't believe that the US will genuinely compete for a World Cup until 2022. Klinsmann's promise for future success enabled this particular group to play without the weight of inequitable expectations-- his player relished this, escaping the obligatory named Group of Death having despite spending a majority of the round-robin matches behind, and with less time of possession.

Perhaps the US will bring a better team in four years, who knows. That's a long time from now.

The Timberwolves

Yesterday, Ryan Saunders joined Sidney Lowe, Sam Mitchell and David Adelman among the Wolves assistant coaching staff. Some define this decision as nepotism, but Saunders, son of President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Flip Saunders, brings an analytical/statistical philosophy to the Wolves coaching staff and is qualified for this position. If [Ryan] Saunders wasn't offered a job in Minnesota, he'd probably be working for a different team-- this candidate was, and is qualified for the position, despite embodying a byproduct of alleged nepotism.

[Ryan] Saunders did downplay his background in analytics, stating "I don't know if I'd consider myself an advanced stat guy," in an interview that may be found on the Timberwolves homepage, "but I'd say a strength that I have is I'm able to put numbers in [a way] so basketball minds can use them."

He describes interacting with Washington Wizards guard John Wall;"I'd say, John. This is where you're getting your turnovers - typically it's in transition." [Ryan] Saunders told Wall, "and actually during games he'd let me know,

'Yea. You're right. I've got to slow down a little bit every once in a while.' [Wall]

So numbers do help. It gives evidence."

Being able to comprehend, understand and apply advanced analytics within a coaching philosophy is more complex than can be described-- the impact [Ryan] Saunders will have on the players and schemes is and will remain unquantifiable.


Free Agency

The Cleveland Cavaliers signed Kyrie Irving to a contract worth $90 million dollars. This maximum, five-year extension the Cavs offered represents the offer Kevin Love sought after during negotiations. So, yea, this narrative is tiring.


Although teams are free to negotiate with free agents, there are only few types of signings allowed to take place during the July Moratorium-- the period of time when the NBA calculates revenue to determine the new Salary Cap and Luxury Tax.

These signings don't often depend in any way on the specific value of the salary cap. This would take place when a restricted free agent accepts a qualifying offer made by his prior team-- something the Wolves didn't do with Robbie Hummel and Othyus Jeffers-- or when first round draft picks sign their rookie scale contracts. Teams may make a waiver claims during a player's waiver period if a player was waived June 29 or 30. July 10th is the date most free agents will officially sign these, and future reported agreements with their respective teams.


Yesterday, Shawn Livingston agreed to sign with the Golden State Warriors.

The Timberwolves aren't expected to be out shopping for free agents, although a phone call had been reportedly made to Livingston-- he would have fulfilled the backup point guard vacancy. ESPN's sources explained the Warriors will pay Livingston the league's full mid-level exception for the next three seasons.

Financially, Golden State is limited as they fight against the luxury tax having committed to ~$65,781,560 million in player contracts through 2014-2015.

The tax apron Pelton refers to is the NBA's luxury tax [$77 million] plus an additional $4 million. Teams above the apron possess a smaller mid-level exception that will allow them to only offer contracts no more than three years in length, while other teams [considered 'non-tax paying teams'] can offer contracts spanning as long as four years. The starting salary is also lower for players signed using the MLE provision. For the '14-'15 season, non-tax paying teams may offer unrestricted free agents a maximum of $5.305 million per year, while tax paying teams may offer only $3.278 million as a yearly, maximum salary.

Teams cannot receive a player in a sign-and-trade transaction if their team salary is above the apron at the conclusion of the trade.

If Golden State intends to sign Livingston using the MLE they can offer a maximum per year salary of $5.3 million, with raises up to 4.5 percent of the salary in the first year of the contract. Only the annual figure impacts the salary cap for that season, thus, if Livingston is offered $5.3 million per season it will put the Warriors somewhere in the area of ~$72 million [~$5 million under the luxury tax threshold] for the upcoming season.

Jodie Meeks made an agreement to sign a three-year, $19.5 million contract with the Detroit Pistons -- this according to that one reporter at Yahoo who everyone calls Woj.

The Pistons also signed Cartier Martin, who spent last season with the Atlanta Hawks, to a one year deal but the terms are yet to be announced.

Detroit is over the luxury tax apron with $82,564,010 in committed salaries. However, $35 million of that is in the form of cap holds-- this is an amount of money that is charged to your team's salary cap number, even though the player isn't under contract. This $35mil. is split among Charlie Villanueva ($12,870,000), Rodney Stuckey ($12,750,000) and Greg Monroe ($10,216,135), according to ShamSports. The rights to Villanueva and Stuckey will likely be renounced on July 10 [the end of the memorandum], but Monroe's contract will be a burden until the Pistons either resign him or until Monroe signs with another team.

As a restricted free agent, he may also accept an offer from another team, but, Detroit will have a chance to match the deal proposed to Monroe before allowing him walk away.

Patty Mills will soon surgery to repair the rotator cuff in his right shoulder, according to Fairfax Media.

Mills will miss FIBA's World Cup of Basketball taking place in Spain this August. An aboriginal Australian, he scored 21 points per game in the 2012 Olympics-- no player in the tournament averaged more PPG. Perhaps the Spurs will take the opportunity to offer Mills less than he would have received signing somewhere else as an unrestricted free agent, but that's purely speculation.

Break the Huddle Show

You can download yesterday's Break the Huddle Show if you're into that type of thing, I speak for everyone on the show when I say we appreciate your support. Click this link to be taken to where you can download the podcast. If you're unaware, the @BTH_Show is an hour long program where we discuss Timberwolves and other news pertinent to the NBA.

If you're not into the podcasting thing here's the video recording from inside the studio.

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