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Tuesday Cup of Canis

Late season Wolves chatter.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Minnesota Timberwolves Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Been looking at lineup combinations a bit, trying to see what works as we change our focus to next season. Here’s a thing: Of the Wolves best two-man combos with over 100 minutes, Luol Deng appears in six of the best eight.

Of course these are all small samples since Deng hasn’t played much, but his injury, which for good reason hasn’t gotten nearly as much attention as Robert Covington’s, was quite unfortunate. If there was reason to believe he could stay healthy playing 15-20 minutes a night, he’s the free agent veteran I wouldn’t mind bringing back.

On the flip side, one of those Deng pairings is with Andrew Wiggins, the Wolves sixth best with over 100 minutes (the top pairing FYI is Deng-Towns.) Among the Wolves top 25 pairings, Wiggins appears only one other time—at 25th with Karl-Anthony Towns.

Speaking of Wiggins, even the marketing department has abandoned him:

Hat tip to Matty and Justin for this Wolviest of exchanges.

Another guy who appears on a surprisingly high number of the Wolves best combinations is Anthony Tolliver. Overall his on/off isn’t great because the Wolves struggle to score when he’s out there, but they play much better defense with him on the court than off. He’s a feature of most of their best defensive combinations.

Jeff Teague appears exactly once among the Wolves top 25 two-mans. With Towns, with whom he has played over 80 percent of his minutes. Thus, his on/off remains positive, but really only because he rarely has played without the Wolves best player.

I bring this up because the point guard spot going into next season is dubious, with $19M tied up in Teague, who has been neither durable nor good this season, and Tyus Jones a restricted free agent.

Furthermore, between Teague, Wiggins, and Gorgui Dieng, the Wolves have over $62M in salary for just next season tied up in three players who appear a grand total of six times among the Wolves best 25 two-man pairings. Two-man pairings don’t tell an entire story, I admit, but still...yikes.

Enough of that. The Wolves host the Warriors tonight, who are on the second night of a back to back. They lost last night in San Antonio, and all of their stars played heavy minutes. It will be interesting to see if Steve Kerr rests anyone tonight, and related, how much they care about getting the top seed in the West. They are currently tied with Denver atop the conference standings at 47-22.

Elsewhere, it appears that Fred Hoiberg is not going to be available to take a role with the Wolves, but instead looks to be headed back to the college game. Rumors are that he’ll be the next coach at Nebraska.

Speaking of college basketball, the tournament starts this week. As usual, I have watched no college ball this season, and probably won’t watch any of the tournament either, but with another lottery pick in the offing I suppose I should figure out who to watch.

What’s on your mind?