The Minnesota Timberwolves’ 2018-19 season was pretty much doomed from the jump, with Jimmy Butler publicly requesting a trade a month before the campaign even began. That eventually led not only to the All-Star wing getting dealt, but to head coach Tom Thibodeau getting fired in early January, and replaced by Ryan Saunders. Things didn’t get much better for Minnesota under Saunders, and now the Timberwolves head into an important offseason with a lot of questions needing to be answered. Will Saunders be their coach for the long haul? Can whoever is coaching Minnesota get more out of Dario Saric, a relatively young player with upside who was acquired as part of the Butler deal? Is it time to try and move on from Andrew Wiggins, an extremely highly paid player who remains maddeningly inconsistent? At the end of the day, at least the Timberwolves can fall back on having one of the best young big men in the league, Karl-Anthony Towns, signed and secured for the foreseeable future. Robert Covington, the other big piece acquired in the Butler deal, also looked good before going down with injury. And the team’s young wings, Keita Bates-Diop and Josh Okogie, appear to have a ton of potential as two-way contributors.
But outside of those few positives, Minnesota will need more, primarily in the form of building a stronger supporting cast around Towns, if they want to make a return trip to the postseason anytime soon.
GUARANTEED CONTRACTS FOR 2019/20
Karl-Anthony Towns: $27,250,000
Andrew Wiggins: $25,467,250
Gorgui Dieng: $16,229,213
Robert Covington: $11,301,219
Dario Saric: $3,481,985
Josh Okogie: $2,533,920
Keita Bates-Diop: $1,416,852
Jeff Teague: $19,000,000
Cam Reynolds: $1,443,842
Tyus Jones: Restricted
The Timberwolves’ top priority should be deciding whether Saunders is their head coach of the future. Through 40 games with Thibodeau, Minnesota was 19-21 and had a +0.3 net rating. From Thibodeau’s firing through the end of the season, the Timberwolves had a similar losing record (13-14), and their net rating actually dipped to -1.1. Besides a potential change with the guy calling the shots on a nightly basis, the Timberwolves also need to acquire depth at multiple positions, particularly on the wings.
POTENTIAL FREE AGENCY TARGETS
Darren Collison: If Teague walks, Collison could be a cheap option to replace him. Collison takes great care of the ball, knocks down open threes and is a low-usage option who would mesh well with Towns without taking too many shots away from the supremely talented big man.
Ricky Rubio: Provided a Teague departure goes down this summer, could he be replaced by former Wolves fan-favorite Rubio?
Reggie Bullock: The Wolves ranked 25th in nightly three-point attempts, and 22nd in three-point accuracy, so they need to modernize themselves and find shooting to place around Towns. Bullock fills that need perfectly.
Wayne Ellington: A former Wolves player, Ellington would also bring some much-needed outside shooting to Minnesota.
Terrence Ross: A player who would fill the shooting void like Bullock and Ellington, Ross has much more scoring juice off the dribble, and would help improve the Wolves offense as a whole, as well as their need for another wing bucket-getter.
POTENTIAL TRADE TARGETS
Nicolas Batum: The Charlotte Hornets have bloated books, and could look to offload some big contracts this offseason. Minnesota, who likewise won’t have much cap space this summer, would be smart to swoop in and pick up a valuable two-way wing in Batum, who would fill a need for a playmaker on the wing.
Goran Dragic: If Dragic opts into his contract this summer, the Miami Heat could look to offload him since Justise Winslow appears to be their point guard of the future. Minnesota, who may have a need at starting point guard to fill this offseason, would make sense as a landing spot.
Kyle Anderson: The Memphis Grizzlies have an expensive team and appear committed to initiating a rebuild. Anderson could be a victim of the rebuild, as he’s signed through 2021-22 and is owed $37.2 million total. Anderson, a defensive-minded playmaking forward, would be a great fit next to Towns.
2019 DRAFT ASSETS
The Timberwolves have their own first-round pick for 2019, as well as a second-round pick via the Miami Heat. They do not have their own second-round pick. Their lottery odds, at the moment, give them the highest chance of landing the No. 11 pick of the draft.