Less than 48 hours after the Minnesota Timberwolves made the call to select Anthony Edwards with the No. 1 pick in Wednesday’s NBA Draft, Gersson Rosas and Co. will be on the phones for another critical period of the NBA offseason: Free agency kicks off Friday night.
And while Minnesota doesn’t have much in the way of cap space, there are still moves and decisions to be made.
It all starts with the Wolves’ restricted free agents — Malik Beasley and Juancho Hernangomez, whom Minnesota acquired from Denver at the trade deadline in February. The Timberwolves have maintained since then that they intend to bring both players back — and Minnesota reportedly already has extended a qualifying offer to Beasley.
That could be dependent on the interest other teams have in both players, though cap space around the league is at a minimum this offseason, making it unlikely the Timberwolves get priced out on either player.
“Essentially we’re not going to be a real big player in terms of cap room. But we do have plenty of room below the (luxury) tax,” Timberwolves executive vice president of basketball operations Sachin Gupta said last month. “We’ve got our own free agents with Malik and Juancho. … We still feel good about having plenty of room below the tax to bring those guys back and also add in free agency as well.”
The selection of Edwards would seem to make bringing Beasley back less of a necessity, though president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas told WCCO Radio’s Chad Hartman on Thursday that selecting Edwards and keeping Beasley are “two independent decisions” that have nothing to do with one another.
Then there is Beasley’s legal situation to consider, as he gets set for his first court date next week facing charges of threats of violence and drug possession stemming from a September incident at his Plymouth home. Rosas repeatedly has said Beasley is part of the Timberwolves’ family, adding that people make mistakes and the Wolves will let the legal process play out and do their own due diligence.
Minnesota also could use Hernangomez and Beasley as trade chips in potential sign-and-trade deals, but that doesn’t seem to be the organization’s preferred direction at this time.
Hernangomez is one of a few potential options to start at power forward this season alongside Karl-Anthony Towns. Power forward, Rosas admitted to Hartman on Thursday, is a position of need. But Rosas and Co. don’t feel an urgent need to fill it. Hernangomez is an option at power forward, as is 21-year-old Jarred Vanderbilt, whom the Wolves also acquired at the trade deadline. Jake Layman could play the four spot in smaller lineups, as well.
“I don’t want to plug a hole for the sake of plugging a hole,” Rosas said on WCCO Radio. “We’ve got young guys that potentially can fill that need. … We’re going to be very creative, but we’re not going to put ourselves in a position where we have to do a bad deal just to fill a box. There’s still a trade window, there’s still an opportunity to add to the organization, and we’re very long-term focused in terms of doing things that are going to help us move forward for the right reasons as we win and as we develop players.”
Aside from re-signing Beasley and Hernangomez, the Wolves can really only use their mid-level exception, worth about $9 million, to bring in another free agent. That money would wisely be spent on a veteran. Minnesota made a draft-night trade to bring Rubio back, but still have a young roster that could use more veterans to help guide development. Year 1, Rosas told Hartman, was about “getting the talent” in the building, while Year 2 is about “systematic and development.”
“Getting veterans that can help not only on the floor, but in the locker room, it’s incredibly important.,” Rosas said. “By having veterans in here, by having systematic players in here that can allow us to play the way we want to play, it’s going to put them in a position where (our young guys) can do less, and they can fit into a more organic role, which we need to do. With all the roster turnover last year, that wasn’t the case, and some of our young guys struggled, because they were asked to do too much. The ability to bring in veterans who can simplify the game, can execute the system and put our guys in a position to be successful is incredibly important for us as we go into Year 2 and Year 3 and build the identity we want to have here.”