Unfortunately for Wolves fans, this time of year has been the most exciting over the past three seasons. It's a time to speculate on what steps your team can make to get back to the playoffs and start making some noise. In negative news, the Wolves and their "braintrust" got the 3rd pick in an advertised two-man draft. In positive news, we have positive debate in the forums on what to do with the pick and it's good to hear we don't have to listen to a country-music station to listen to the Wolves next year.
With all of the debate raging over what to do with the draft pick, it's important to remember that the Wolves have to make some decisions on its existing roster. Here at the Twolves Blog, we want to continue the discussions about this teams direction with this Blogprint for the Future, which will include contributions from various TWolvesBlog contributors and guests as this team transforms during the off-season. In today's edition, College Wolf, DeROK and I will step into our virtual jobs in the front office and offer our takes on what we would do with the draft picks and our thoughts on the Wolves free agents.
Please click "Read More" for the analysis.
COLLEGE WOLF: If I were the GM of the Minnesota Timberwolves, it would mean that hell has indeed frozen over. More seriously, there are certainly a plethora of moves that I would love to explore with my newfound power. However, due to the rules of the CBA, the only viable moves at this point in time involve what we should do with our #3 draft pick, and which of our free agents we want to keep or let go. I’m just going to stay away from the coaching situation entirely, as we all know that won’t be changing anytime soon.
The decisions that need to be made with both our lottery pick and free agents are certainly intertwined. If we draft a combo or point guard, there is probably not a need to bring back Sebastian Telfair. If we somehow luck into Beasley, we definitely would not need to bring back both Gomes and Craig Smith. Luckily, the draft (June 26th) is before our free agent decisions need to be made, as players cannot be re-signed until early July.
In regards to the draft, thanks to Pat Riley, our choice is not as simple as “draft Player-X.” Rumors are floating around that have the Heat looking seriously at drafting OJ Mayo (if the Bulls draft Derrick Rose as rumored.) However, the Heat would like to trade down for additional assets if they go the “Mayo over Beasley” route. It’s hard to tell how serious Riley is, as they could be floating rumors simply to see what kind of offers they get for their #2 pick. That would probably be my guess, as I don’t see how anyone could pass on Beasley, who had one of the best seasons in NCAA history. If the Heat do want Mayo and also want to trade down, the Wolves hold all the cards. I would love to trade up to the #2 spot, but I think we would have to hold firm and tell the Heat to draft Mayo at #2 if they want him that bad. The reason is that they can’t trade with anyone other than the Wolves to ensure Mayo, as the Wolves could simply draft Mayo #3. If the Heat do surprisingly take Mayo #2, then great, we get Beasley.
With all that said, on a team with as many holes as the Wolves, I think you need to draft the “Best Player Available”… and I believe at the three spot that choice is OJ Mayo. Brook Lopez fills our need for a Center, but there a multitude of big man that we could trade up for later in the first round. To do so, I would package one or both of our early second round picks to trade up. Depending on which Center is available, we could possibly trade a future 1st round pick (owed to us by both the Heat and Celtics.) Here is a list of big man I’d like to trade back into the first round to nab: Robin Lopez, Roy Hibbert, Kosta Koufos, JaVale McGee, or DeVon Hardin. DeAndre Jordan is intriguing, but he is a projected lottery pick. I’d love Spencer Tollackson if he’s available. (haha, just kidding… I couldn’t resist.) Other players I like with the second round pick (or would also explore trading back into the first round for) include: Bill Walker, Brandon Rush, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Ty Lawson, or Donte Greene. At this point in time, it’s hard to know which players will be available and which won’t. This kind of thing is certainly much more of a “game time decision.”
As for our own free agents, here’s what I’d do with each:
Michael Doleac – Due to roster space and because of the way that he wobbles when he runs, I would not bring him back under any circumstances.
Sebastian Telfair – Depending on who we draft, I would explore bringing him back at the “right price.” He’s certainly not worth the full MLE, but he’s still young (23 yrs old) and has potential. If we draft OJ Mayo or someone like Ty Lawson, I don’t think I’d bring him back. If we don’t draft a guard, I’d offer him something around the 4 year, $15 million dollar range.
Kirk Snyder – I like some of the things that he showed us towards the end of the year, but I do not feel that he is someone that will help take our team to the “next level.” Due to limited roster space and a plethora of draft picks in the next three years, I would not make him an offer.
Ryan Gomes – I would bring him back under almost any circumstances, as he is a restricted free agent. He’s versatile, plays very solid defense, has great character, and a high basketball IQ. As long as he is not offered more than the MLE by any club, I would match the offer. If he is not made an offer by another club, I’d start with something like a 5 year, $25 million dollar contract. Coincidentally, that would keep him around the same number of years as Al Jefferson.
Craig Smith – If Gomes is re-signed, I would not re-sign Craig Smith unless we do not draft any big men at all. Alas, that would mean our draft was an utter failure.
Chris Richard - If we draft a center (as desperately needed), I don’t think we bring Richard back unless he is willing to accept the minimum. Being that we need a center more than we need an undersized backup PF, there is slightly more need for Richard than Craig Smith.
DEROK: If I were the Wolves GM and held the #3 pick in this year's draft my draft board would read, #1 - Beasley, #2 - Rose, #3 - Mayo, and #9,434,584 - Brook Lopez. Seriously though, when you have the #3 pick, your draft board doesn't need to have more than three players on it. This year's draft has only three players who appear to have that "franchise-altering" amount of talent and if the Wolves walk away on draft night without one of them in hand, it may just be the biggest blunder in franchise history - and that's saying something!
As far as our 2nd round picks go, there has been a lot of talk about packaging them in a trade to a team that doesn't want to financially commit to a late 1st round pick. With several big men available projected to go in that area of the draft and acquiring a center being perhaps the Wolves most pressing need, the notion certainly makes sense. However, knowing how important it is to be financially savvy when building a title contender from the ground up, as the T-Wolves are doing, I'm not so sure that this is the best move. Any player picked near the end of the 1st round has got to be considered a project and will probably not be able to fill the Wolves' void in the middle right away. Remember, the Timberwolves are really in need of a starter who can provide a legitimate inside presence to allow Al Jefferson to slide over to the PF spot. The chances of drafting somebody good enough to fill that role so late in the draft are slim. When you consider that a late 1st rounder needs a guaranteed contract and a player taken a few spots back in the early 2nd round can be cut if he doesn't produce, I think the Wolves are better to hold onto their picks and take two free shots of finding the right guy, if they're dead-set on drafting a big man. Personally, I feel that since the Wolves are in the market for a "quality" center vs. just a big body, their needs would probably be better met in a trade for a proven vet anyway.
As far as what players I'd re-sign and which I'd let go, the only guy I'm dead set on bringing back is Ryan Gomes. Even if we somehow get Beasley, who would also play the 3-spot, Gomes has proven that he's enough of an asset to warrant a contract. As a starter or coming off the bench, Gomes is a solid role player who would be able to meaningfully contribute on almost any team. If we can lock him in at the 3-4 million/year range, I think bringing him back is a no-brainer. If he starts creeping up towards 5 million/year, then we should probably let him walk.
I'm a bit more on the fence with Sebastian Telfair. Basically, I think he's good enough to be a solid backup PG and probably won't develop what it takes to run the ship on a title contender. It really all depends on what he fetches in the open market. Under no circumstances would I commit anything more than 3 million/year towards his development. If we miraculously end up with Rose, then I probably wouldn't bring him back at any price as Foye can handle the few backup minutes needed at the position, and the cash can be better spent plugging other holes.
Finally, the only other player I'd consider bringing back is Kirk Snyder. He certainly showed that the Wolves could use an athletic and defensive-minded presence at the SG position, but with Foye, McCants, and Brewer already under contract, there's very little room for him on the roster. If we get Mayo or Rose, there will be simply no way to get him minutes. If we end up with Beasley and no other moves are made to acquire a PG, then Foye would have to take over the point and there may be some opportunity to get him some floor time. Either way, he's a long shot for even a minimum contract due to roster constraints, which is a shame since he did show flashes of potential down the stretch last year.
TheOldLogo: Last season, prior to workouts, there was genuine debate as to the #3 pick prior to workouts. The four competitors were Horford, Green, Yi, and Conley. After workouts, all fourteen lottery teams agreed that Horford was the consensus #3 pick. I think we're in a similar situation this season. Two no-brainers at the top (and I'm willing to bet that barring a trade, we shouldn't count on Rose or Beasley being available) and a handful of also rans. The also-rans, according to most analysts, are OJ Mayo, Jarryd Bayless, Brook Lopez and Danilo Gallinari. Other than what I've read, I don't know anything about Gallinari and I didn't catch any Arizona games, so I don't know anything about Bayless other than what I've read. I've seen Mayo, Lopez, Eric Gordon, DaAndre Jordan, and Kevin Love at least three times each. As a GM, I would try to bring the right combination of players in for workouts. I would want to work Mayo our with Gordon, not because I would pick Gordon, but because they are similar heights, but Gordon is slightly bigger, and I would work Lopez out with Anthony Randlolph, a raw, athletic power-forward with length and speed to see how Lopez performs against that type of competion. At this juncture, in opposition of just about everyone on this site, I would pick Brook Lopez pre-workouts. No offense to you "OJ Mayo is a sure thing" buyers out there, but I think Mayo has at least equal chance of becomming Joseph Forte/Felipe Lopez as he does of becomming Dwayne Wade and I give him about a 15% chance of living up to some of the forum-poster's expectations. Again, my opinion on this third pick would probably be greatly affected if I had the chance to study all of the game films and watch them in workouts.
Free agent resignings are another issue for the front office:
Michael Doleac – Gone.
Sebastian Telfair – Like College Wolf, I think this depends on who we draft. Bassy grew on me last year, but he's had four seasons to develop a respectable jump shot, and he hasn't. If we can get him in a three year deal at no more than 4 million a year, I would resign him. I do think some team will give him a better deal than that and I wouldn't match it.
Kirk Snyder – I liked Snyder, but not enough to resign him. We have too many mediocre wing players and, whether we draft a wing or a big, I think we should clear some roster space for size. I would rather have a mediocre big than a mediocre wing coming off the bench.
Ryan Gomes – I like Gomes and I would make him an offer. I think he's going to draw some interest from other teams, so I wouldn't match anything ludicrous. Three-to-four years at around five a year is what I would offer him.
Craig Smith – Smith is still my #1 contender for bit-player that will be overpaid. I love his energy, his rebounding, and his play around the rim, but his skill set is extremely limited and I think he gets a little shot-crazy when he's out on the floor. I would rather roll with Chris Richards.
Chris Richard - If we let Smith go, we should give Richards another year. If nothing, it's a banger to come in when Jefferson needs a rest.