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Timberwolves Salary Cap Situation: Holes to Fill on the Cheap

A look at what Gersson Rosas will be walking in to.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Wolves hired Gersson Rosas as their new President of Basketball Operations, so it seems like a good time to review what he will be stepping into from a roster and salary cap perspective.

The projected cap figure for 2019-20 is $109M, which means without big and very unlikely moves, the Wolves will be operating over the cap this summer. The projected luxury tax threshold is $132M, which gives them some breathing space.

At any rate, the Wolves have nine players under contract for next season:

Karl-Anthony Towns: $27,250,000*
Andrew Wiggins $27,504,630
Robert Covington $11,301,219
Dario Saric $3,401,985
Jeff Teague $19,000,000
Gorgui Dieng $16,229,213
Josh Okogie $2,533,920
Keita Bates-Diop $1,416,852
Cam Reynolds $1,416,852

TOTAL: $110,054,671

So the Wolves will be over the projected cap line with just the players they have under contract, though Cam Reynolds’ salary is not guaranteed.

A couple of additional notes:

*Karl-Anthony Towns’ cap figure above is based on him NOT making an All-NBA team this season. If he does make an All-NBA team, his cap figure jumps to $32.7M. Those announcements are usually made late in May.

Tyus Jones has a qualifying offer of $3,573,204. Presuming the Wolves extend that offer, (they will,) his cap hold will be $7,332,156 until he either signs a contract with the Wolves, signs an offer sheet with another team, or the Wolves pull the QO and renounce him.

In addition, the Wolves will have a roughly $3M cap hold assuming they remain at tenth in the upcoming draft order.

So assuming Towns makes All-NBA, and adding in the draft pick, the Wolves are looking at a cap figure of roughly $119M for ten players, which leaves them $13M short of the tax threshold but still needing to fill at least four roster spots.

One thing this means is it’s going to likely be impossible to both re-sign Tyus Jones and use the entire Mid-Level Exception, which will likely land slightly over $9M in year one of an MLE contract, while also staying under the luxury tax line, which we must assume they will do.

Our guess is that Jones makes around $7M per on his next deal, whether with the Wolves or elsewhere, which would push their cap number to about $126M for 11 players if the Wolves keep him. That would leave them approximately $6M to fill three or four remaining spots on the roster (depending on whether they go with 14 or 15 players.)

That means minimum salaries or close to it to fill out the roster.

If they let Jones go elsewhere, they can use at least most of the MLE and fill out the roster with minimum guys, so the question is whether they can do better than Jones with the exception; given their need for a point guard, it seems unlikely they can do better, but that will be a decision for the new POBO.

Depending on who they draft, the Wolves are in need of another power forward type with defensive chops, and a backup point guard (and perhaps a third point guard.) As always, they desperately need shooting, and could use a shot creating wing, though that’s not likely a problem that will get solved this summer.

In other words, there are holes to fill, and limited resources with which to do so. It’s not an easy task, which means it’s essential that Rosas is the right guy and that he hits the ground running.