Jimmy Butler’s contract is front and center for Timberwolves’ offseason

Posted: April 30, 2018 in #ChicagoSportsAndMore, #NBARumors, 2018 NBA Playoffs, basketball, chicago, chicago bulls, NBA Basketball, NBA NEWS, Sports, Uncategorized
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Jimmy Butler (23) reacted after hitting a three-pointer during the third quarter of Game 3.

With Andrew Wiggins already signed (for better or worse) to a maximum contract, the Timberwolves now aim themselves after their first playoff season since 2004 toward a summer in which they must decide if and how they can sign All-Stars Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns to similar deals as well.

When or if they do, they also must determine how they can assemble a competitive roster around a team that would dedicate most of its rising payroll to three players.

Could they create some flexibility to improve their three-point shooting and defense by trading backup center Gorgui Dieng, who has three years and more than $48 million left on a contract that looked reasonable in October 2016 when money was flooding into the salary cap from a massive new TV deal and Dieng still was a productive starter. Now it’s a commitment few teams would be willing to make.

Might they try to trade Wiggins and his deal worth at least $146 million before it even begins this next season? Guaranteed such a big contract last fall, Wiggins delivered a season in which he said he “learned a lot” while learning how to play with Butler on the perimeter. He also said, “I don’t think I had the best season,” a statement some Wolves fans consider the euphemism of the year.

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Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor calls decisions to sign both Butler and Towns “big issues” about which he wants to give himself, coach/president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau and General Manager Scott Layden time to ponder after their just completed 47-victory season and the next season ahead before they start making such big decisions.

“Well, we’re working on it,” Taylor said.

From there, the Wolves must decide whether to re-sign veteran guard Derrick Rose, a Thibodeau favorite who was effective in the playoffs. And can they afford to keep upcoming restricted free agent Nemanja Bjelica, who intrigued at least two NBA teams with money to spend this summer when he became a starter after Butler sustained a February knee injury and played well.

“I don’t know what I can say right now,” Bjelica said after Wednesday’s Game 5 loss. “I hope I will stay here. We will see. We had bad luck to play against Houston in the first round, but we have a great group of people here. First time in playoffs in 14 years is very important for us. I like it here.”

Veteran guard Jamal Crawford has a player option for next season and said he won’t begin to contemplate that decision until he decompresses from this past season. Backup point guard Tyus Jones, a member of Towns’ 2015 draft class, will be eligible to sign a contract extension this summer, and little-used veteran center Cole Aldrich can be paid off $2 million of the nearly $7 million owed him next season if he is waived by June 20.

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