Last week, the Timberwolves traded back from the No. 19 spot in the NBA draft and wound up with two first-round picks in Walker Kessler and Wendell Moore.
That means for next season, the Wolves are investing an extra roster spot to carry two first-round picks instead of just settling for one.
Then before free agency opened Thursday night, the Wolves answered one of the questions they had relative to their few remaining roster spots. They agreed to terms with forward Taurean Prince on a two-year deal. The club also announced late Wednesday the pickup of team options on guard Jaylen Nowell and center Naz Reid.
The Wolves head into the start of free agency Thursday night with not a lot of flexibility in terms of their 15-man roster, barring a trade that could create space. Assuming second-round pick Josh Minott signs a two-way deal that'll see him spend significant time in Iowa, the Wolves will have only one roster spot to use for their mid-level exception of just over $10 million, if they choose to use it.
All this is to say, as free agency opens, don't expect the Wolves to be throwing around contracts like other teams. If the Wolves do make a splash move it'll be by trade, or it will be in the likely signing of Karl-Anthony Towns to a supermax extension, in which Towns would make 35% of the salary cap, or north of $210 million, once his current deal expires in two seasons.
Coach Chris Finch seemed to think the extension was not going to be a huge obstacle when discussing it Tuesday.
"I think it's all of our hopes, really," Finch said. "We know he's happy. We were extremely happy for him, for All-NBA and the ability to have this extension. I know he worked hard for it. I know he's excited, so I think it'll be a good moment, special moment for him and for this organization."
The Wolves will be above the salary cap next season but will be roughly $23 million under the luxury tax, according to Spotrac.com. That allows them to use the mid-level exception and take on some salary in any trades they may make without venturing into the luxury tax.
Of course, the most heavily rumored Wolves player to be on the trading block is point guard D'Angelo Russell, but the Wolves would live with it if there wasn't an enticing enough deal to get Russell off their hands and he came back for the final season of his contract.
The Wolves reportedly dipped their toes in the trade talk around Spurs guard Dejounte Murray, who ESPN reported is going to the Hawks, and have had interest in acquiring Jazz center Rudy Gobert to play the five defensively alongside Towns.
Wolves fans on social media got excited Wednesday at a report that said there was interest in Tyus Jones rejoining the Wolves. But outside of the Wolves trading Russell, it's hard to see how Jones would come back to Minnesota, since he's likely in line to make more than the mid-level exception on his next contract after a very good year with Memphis. The Wolves could also try to use the money to add depth to their frontcourt, especially if they don't think Kessler is ready to be a part of the rotation from Day One. President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly has tried to ease expectations on his draft class by saying he doesn't expect them to contribute right away.
The most the Wolves will improve, Finch said, is likely from internal development of their young players like Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels, and, in a surprise from Finch, Nowell. The Wolves have depth on a team that made the playoffs. A signing could happen, but it isn't a pressing matter.