While the 2022 preseason technically ended for the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night, the team’s front office was working on the weekend like usual, starting Saturday morning by announcing they had waived three players before later in the day announcing that they had then signed three new players.
NEWS: The @Timberwolves today announced the team has signed Matt Lewis, Emmanuel Mudiay and Phillip Wheeler.— Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) October 15, 2022
Ironically, the team THEN announced an hour later that they had cut the same three players they just signed, but that was for creative transactional purposes:
NEWS: The @Timberwolves today announced the team has waived Matt Lewis, Emmanuel Mudiay and Phillip Wheeler. https://t.co/DBLvKX8S28— Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) October 15, 2022
For those scoring at home, moves like this (signing and then immediately waiving a player) are designed so that the team can then essentially re-sign the player(s) to their G-League team, which in this case is obviously the Iowa Wolves.
The biggest name here (at least in my opinion) is Mudiay, who last played in two games last season for the Sacramento Kings. In seven seasons in the NBA with the Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks, Utah Jazz and Kings, Mudiay has tallied 3,299 points, 884 rebounds and 1,143 assists throughout 302 games (165 starts). The Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo native was named to the 2015-16 NBA All-Rookie Second Team after appearing in 68 games (66 starts) while averaging 12.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game for the Nuggets. Mudiay spent part of the 2021-22 season playing for Žalgiris Kaunas in Lithuania.
Another interesting name is Matt Lewis, who actually spent last season with the Iowa Wolves where he appeared in 32 regular season games (all starts) while averaging 11.1 points on 42.7% shooting, 4.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. He most recently played for the Timberwolves’ entry in the 2022 2K23 NBA Summer League where he saw action in five games (one start) and averaged 9.2 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. Lewis ranks among the career leaders in several categories at James Madison, including third in points (1,928) and eighth in assists (341).
Last but not least is Phillip Wheeler, who most recently spent time last season in the NBA G League with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and the Mexico City Capitanes where he saw action in eight games (two starts) and combined to average 3.5 points and 2.0 rebounds per game. The Rumson, N.J. native spent the rest of the 2021-22 season with the Quebradillas Pirates in Puerto Rico, averaging 16.9 points on 51.3% shooting, 5.6 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game.
While none of these three guys will likely spend any time playing with the Timberwolves this season, it’s still worth highlighting these transactions (as well as the signing of Luka Garza to a two-way), as the Iowa Wolves figure to play a MASSIVE role this season in terms of player development. Remember, not only do the Iowa Wolves now have these three players + Garza, but they also acquired the rights to Nik Stauskas earlier this summer (STAUSKAS?!), and should be the location where guys like Wendell Moore, Jr. and Josh Minott see a majority of their playing time this fall/winter.
The Iowa Wolves this season pic.twitter.com/mTXEGtVAxd— Kyle Theige (@KyleTheige) October 7, 2022
All in all, the Iowa Wolves figure to be a really talented development league team this year, and if you haven’t had a chance to check out a game yet, I highly recommend tuning in later this fall when the team kicks off their schedule at home against the Sioux Falls Skyforce.