Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NBA. Throughout the year we ask questions of the most plugged-in Minnesota Timberwolves fans and fans across the country. Sign up here to participate in the weekly emailed surveys.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have proven themselves to be one of the Western Conference’s most formidable squads through the first half of the 2023-24 NBA season, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be looking to improve.
With just over two weeks left until the NBA Trade Deadline on February 8, President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly and the Wolves’ front office have some options in terms where and how to upgrade the roster.
Minnesota has a few advantages as they enter trade and buyout season.
First, the Timberwolves have one open roster spot, so they can sign a player outright, or take in one more player than they send out in a trade.
Second, according to Spotrac, the Wolves have $2.36 million in luxury tax space — enough to sign a player to a veteran’s minimum contract for the rest of the season, which is standard for players changing teams after agreeing to a contract buyout. This is important to keep in mind, because most contenders (teams looking to sign previously bought out players) are either over the first or second luxury tax apron; as a result, these teams are not allowed to sign a player who was bought out from a contract with a 2023-24 season cap hit worth more than this season’s non-taxpayer mid-level exception ($12,405,000).
Current Tax Apron teams are:— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) January 15, 2024
Celtics - 2nd Apron
Nuggets - 1st Apron (hard capped at 2nd Apron)
Warriors - 2nd Apron
Clippers - 2nd Apron
Heat - 1st Apron
Bucks - 2nd Apron
Suns - 2nd Apron
None of these teams can sign a buyout player who made more than NTMLE this season. https://t.co/PN2eJBXPJT
For example, if Chris Paul ($30.8 million cap hit), Gordon Hayward ($31.5 million), Joe Harris ($19.3 million) or Gary Harris ($13.0 million) were to get bought out, they would be ineligible to sign with any of the teams in the tweet above, but could sign with Minnesota.
Third, the Timberwolves have expiring contracts or those with team options for next season. Kyle Anderson ($9.2 million), Shake Milton ($5.0 million), Troy Brown Jr. ($4.0 million) and Jordan McLaughlin ($2.3 million) all fit this description, assuming Nickeil Alexander-Walker won’t be moved.
Fourth, Minnesota has young players with upside that may intrigue other teams. Presuming Leonard Miller is off the table, Wendell Moore Jr. and Josh Minott could potentially be included in a deal not only for salary matching purposes, but also as long-term plays for a team looking to accumulate draft capital and develop young talent.
Fifth, the Wolves also five tradable second-round picks. The headliner among those five is the least favorable of the Washington Wizards and Memphis Grizzlies second-round pick in the 2024 NBA Draft, which projects to be a top-10 pick in the second round.
And finally, they have a lead executive in Connelly who is very well regarded around the league and has great relationships with agents, players, coaches and other executives, which certainly doesn’t hurt in either the buyout or trade market.
With all of their options in mind, where do you want to see the Timberwolves make an upgrade over the coming weeks?