The Minnesota Timberwolves are signing center Luka Garza to a two-way NBA contract, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Garza had a strong preseason, averaging 7.3 points on 66.7 percent from 3-point land.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 15, 2022
We got him.
The 6’11” big man, Luka Garza, has quickly risen to legendary status among Timberwolves fans throughout the last two weeks. What began as a fun Exhibit 10 contract with Minnesota quickly sprouted into something very real. NBA’s tallest (and arguably most gifted) Luka alternated 4-minute games in garbage time, with 12-minute 4th quarter master classes in efficient basketball. In total, Garza averaged 7.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, 0.3 assists, and 0.5 stocks in just 8.0 minutes per game at a ridiculous .611 FG% (.667 3P%) clip. Most memorably, he single-handedly took down Patrick Beverley & the Laker second stringers in Wednesday’s banger of a game.
To provide some quick context for those of you not too familiar with Garza’s journey to the NBA: Luka was a four-star high school recruit who spent four whole years with the Iowa Hawkeyes from from 2017 to 2021, dominating the Big Ten over and over again. This culminated with Luka earning the 2021 Naismith National Player of the Year award.
The D.C. native declared for the 2021 NBA draft and was selected by the rebuilding Detroit Pistons with the 52nd pick. Though he did average 12.2 minutes per game in 32 contests with the Pistons, he spent the majority of his rookie season bouncing back and forth between the Pistons and the Motor City Cruise.
Our own Jack Borman did a much better job shedding more light on Garza in his piece here, including what he brings on the court.
He hasn’t played much since graduating from Iowa in 2021, but he has slimmed down since then (when he played at 265 pounds) and figures to play more of a face-up style than he did in Iowa City, where he predominantly went to the block and mid-post to do most of his scoring..... Garza averaged 25 points per game on a terrific 64.6% true shooting. For reference, Karl-Anthony Towns’ true shooting percentage was 64.0 last season. Garza shined in four games in the G-League and was quickly recalled to the Pistons, for whom he scored 5.8 points and grabbed 3.1 rebounds in 12.2 minutes per game in 32 contests (five starts) last season.
Jon Krawcynski reports that he will be taking A.J. Lawson’s two-way spot with the Iowa Wolves. This generates some positional question marks, as Garza now joins Kyle Anderson, Naz Reid, Nathan Knight, and Eric Paschall (Other two-way) on the depth chart behind All-NBA starters Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert. Should we be expecting a two-way player to have a key role in a (hopefully) deep playoff run? Probably not. However, his development could be a fun subplot.
Either way, Iowa Wolves season tickets probably just got a lot more hotter.
In a set of corresponding moves, the Timberwolves announced Saturday morning that they had waived three players, bringing their roster down to 17 total players:
The great Jon Krawczynski hinted at this last night when it was announced Garza had signed a two-way deal, but now it’s officially official.
Garza will get the 2-way that was held by A.J. Lawson, sources said. Wolves really liked Lawson. But Garza was too good to let go. https://t.co/k50pmUEi2l— Jon Krawczynski (@JonKrawczynski) October 15, 2022
To sum everything up, Luka Garza will take the second two-way (that previously belonged to A.J. Lawson), and then PJ Dozier and CJ Elleby (who were both on Exhibit 10 deals) have been let go. There is still a chance that Minnesota could find another player they like via the waiver wire (once other teams begin making their roster cuts), but for now the two-way contracts belong to Garza and then Eric Paschall.
As mentioned previously, the Timberwolves roster now stands at 17 players (15 players on the official roster + two players on two-way contracts), which means Tim Connelly and his staff have solidified their roster (for now) prior to the start of the 2022-23 season.
Minnesota will now turn their attention to their regular season home opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder, which is scheduled for Wednesday (7:00pm) at Target Center. Buckle up!