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Wolves Wednesday: The Dog Days of Summer

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Very little is happening lately in the NBA. Let’s talk about it!

Via Instagram: @1tyus (Tyus Jones)

Woof.

As the calendar officially flips the page from July to August, the NBA has formally entered its own version of the dog days of summer. With the Kawhi Leonard saga put to rest (for now), the only remaining “major” store lines involving NBA players or franchises include two-way contracts, debuting modified jerseys, and partnerships with casino conglomerates.

Unlike past Augusts, where All-Star talents like Kevin Love and/or Kyrie Irving were in search of a new mailing address, this month sets up to be pretty dry in the Association, with most of the frenzied transaction activity now tabled until after the start of the regular season.

What does this mean for the Wolves? Well, with training camp still over a month away, you can expect a lot of scheduled tweets involving things like #NBAHandlesWeek and #NBADunkWeek infiltrating your timelines. Like I said before … woof.

Nevertheless, while the activity level in the league hits an all-year low, the Wolves still have a few things remaining on their To-Do list, primarily the need to fill out the roster. With the recent two-way signing of C.J. Williams, the Wolves current depth chart looks something like this:

PG: Jeff Teague / Tyus Jones / Derrick Rose

SG: Jimmy Butler / Josh Okogie / C.J. Williams

SF: Andrew Wiggins / Keita Bates-Diop

PF: Taj Gibson / Anthony Tolliver

C: Karl-Anthony Towns / Gorgui Dieng / Justin Patton

This is a preliminary idea of what the depth chart will look like. For example, Derrick Rose will more than likely be Butler’s primary replacement off the bench as Thibs continues to deploy more two PG lineups, and KBD/Tolliver could swap places coming in to spell Andrew or Taj. These types of details will get ironed out during training camp and over the following months of real basketball.

However, as the depth chart above shows, the Wolves are still extremely thin on the wing, even after the acquisition of C.J. Williams. Outside of projected starters Andrew Wiggins and Jimmy Butler, the Wolves current backup wings include two rookies, a two-way contract player, and a former MVP PG who has had multiple knee surgeries. In other words, remove Wiggins or Butler from that starting lineup for 5-10 games, and all the sudden the Wolves have a major crater on their hands.

While the list of remaining 2018 free agents isn’t exactly sexy, there are still plenty of guys who have proven that they know how to do at least one NBA skill successfully and can contribute off the bench. Players like:

  • Rodney Hood (RFA)
  • Dwyane Wade (what’s China like in December?)
  • Jamal Crawford (remember him?)
  • Greg Monroe (Lol)
  • Joe Johnson (fingers crossed)
  • Corey Brewer (“The Trilogy”)
  • David Nwaba (Twitter favorite)
  • Nick Young (Swaggy P-lease No)

Again, I told you the list wasn’t sexy, hell it might not even be cute. Regardless, the Wolves still need another active body to fill out the roster, and in addition to the remainder of their Mid-Level Exception and/or Bi-Annual Exception, Minnesota can offer something that most teams in August really cannot — the possibility of a consistent role off the bench.

Listen, we don’t really know whether or not Tom Thibodeau will give his two new rookies a long enough leash to establish themselves as dependable role players. The sample size on rookies under Thibs in Minnesota is extremely small — Kris Dunn averaged just 17.1 minutes during his lone season as a Wolf, and Justin Patton has only tallied four more NBA minutes than you or I.

While the two Minnesota rookies have already flashed their potential during Las Vegas Summer League, the Wolves would be borderline crazy to enter the upcoming season with the bench they currently have. Guys like Brewer, Johnson, and even Nwaba may not move the needle in terms of wins and losses, but they could provide enough of an insurance policy to prevent the Wolves from full on devastation if (or in Butler’s case when) one of their two starting wings misses an extended period of time.

Miscellaneous Thib-bits

If you took a late July sabbatical from social media, you missed ... well, not much. New Wolf Josh Okogie has been making the rounds in the Twin Cities, tackling the first day of Vikings training camp, networking with the mayor of St. Paul, and getting some career advice from a fellow Minnesota hooper:

As for the player Okogie will most likely pattern his game after, Jimmy continues to recover from his recent wrist injury in the only way he knows how:

Via Instagram: @jimmybutler (Jimmy Butler)

Good morning to you as well, Mr. Buckets.

Finally, before you ask again, no, Karl-Anthony Towns has not yet signed his max contract extension.

Am I concerned? Not really, although just the idea of having that type of contract (let alone that type of money) floating out there without a John Hancock makes me uber queasy. I wouldn’t leave my bed until that puppy was signed, scanned, copied, sent to Kinko’s, lamented, or whatever else the NBA requires to make it official. Nevertheless, the Wolves best and most important player continues to drag on what appears to be one-sided negotiation, and may continue to do so until all parties involved can meet face-to-face to air their differences.

If KAT can wait, we can too.