By the time the NBA draft takes place Nov. 18, the Timberwolves will have had nearly five extra months to prepare than they otherwise would have during non-pandemic times.
That five extra months hasn't gone to waste, nor will the remaining time between now and the draft, but if it took place tomorrow, the Wolves would be ready to make the No. 1 overall selection.
"We feel pretty good about where we're at. We're ready to pick," Wolves executive vice president Sachin Gupta said in a video conference call with reporters Wednesday. "There is still information flowing in from different prospects, still. The NBA is doing a great job trying to salvage the draft combine process and predraft process. … But we feel really good about where we're at at the top of the draft and are ready to pick if we have to."
Of course, when the draft opens, there's a possibility the Wolves have traded the top pick. To that end, Gupta said there are ongoing discussions regarding the pick.
It isn't uncommon for teams to be talking about the structure of potential trades and gauging all teams' interest in such an asset weeks out from the draft, and Gupta has made his name in part on the trades he has been able to maneuver at different organizations during his career.
"We're having conversations and by those conversations, we'll get a better sense of what [the No. 1 pick is] worth," Gupta said. "Those conversations are happening and will continue to happen, and we're wide open. But I know we're very happy picking at the top, but certainly teams are inquiring and we'll get back to them."
Gupta also addressed the Wolves' salary-cap situation. The league and players' association are still negotiating where the cap will land next season, but Gupta said that while the Wolves likely wouldn't have a lot of salary-cap room, they should have room under the luxury tax threshold. That would enable to re-sign their own free agents, such as Malik Beasley and Juancho Hernangomez, who are restricted free agents.
The Wolves have those players' Bird Rights and can exceed the cap to re-sign them if they choose. Gupta indicated that was still part of their plan.
"Essentially we're not going to be a real big player in terms of cap room," Gupta said. "But we do have plenty of room below the tax. We've got our own free agents with Malik and Juancho so with the Bird rights we'll be able to re-sign those guys, and now with a No. 1 pick, that's a bigger salary slot than maybe we would've expected prior to the lottery.
"But 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."