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Timberwolves Cut Ties with Tyus Jones

The point guard heads to Memphis on a three year deal

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Denver Nuggets Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Late last night, the Timberwolves declined to match Tyus Jones’ offer sheet from the Memphis Grizzlies, and issued this statement:

“We sincerely thank Tyus for his contributions on the court and Tyus and the entire Jones family for their genuine impact on the Twin Cities community. We wish them nothing but the best in Memphis.”

With that, the feel-good story of the local guy playing for his childhood team came to an end.

It was not a big surprise, as Jones never seemed to be a priority for Gersson Rosas, who spent significant time and energy this off-season trying to acquire a dynamic lead guard, which appears to be part of his plan going forward. Given that, spending significant money on Jones for multiple years was likely never in the cards.

After not getting a satisfactory offer from the Wolves, his agent was able to find a team willing to commit to him for three seasons and about $28 million total; Not a huge dollar figure, but a place the Wolves were not going to go since they clearly did not view him as the starter of the future.

In Memphis, Jones will caddy for second overall pick Ja Morant, who will get every opportunity to establish himself. Of course rookie point guards often struggle, and there might be significant opportunity for minutes there for Jones.

Depending on future moves, the Wolves could wind up regretting this. Jones brings many good things to the table mostly centered around his intelligence. He limits mistakes. He knows where to be on defense. He led the league in assist-to-turnover ratio last season. Things tend to go well when he’s on the court.

On the other hand, he’s never going to be a star. His physical limitations and lack of scoring acumen are the big reasons why. I think he’s capable of being a starter, but not an upper echelon one, and the Wolves appear unwilling to commit significant dollars long-term until they can add a second star to Karl-Anthony Towns.

The Wolves will likely be in a position to get to max cap space next summer as things currently stand; it will require getting off the final year of Gorgui Dieng’s contract, which will cost them, but it’s possible. That’s a year away, however, and a lot of things can happen between now and then.

A couple of things strike me about this decision:

First, it marks an end to part of Flip Saunders’ legacy. Saunders made an effort to draft Jones by trading back into the first round in 2015, largely because he was the local kid. Not to say he wasn’t worth it or a good player, but it was a very Wolvsey move—something they would not have done if Jones was a Texas native or something.

Second, if there was any lingering question, it seems clear now that Gersson Rosas is firmly in control. Ryan Saunders loves Tyus Jones. It certainly would have pleased Glen Taylor to keep the local kid. And yet he’s gone because Rosas simply did not value the player or the contract.

This is being met with some sadness within Wolves fandom, as Jones is very popular. I like him too, and hope he does well with the Grizzlies. This is an eminently fair contract the Wolves could have matched, but they are aiming for bigger things. They might miss, but at least there is ambition.

To conclude:

Good luck.