With the 2012 draft coming up in three weeks and free agency shortly to follow the time is now for the Wolves to take a step forward in their team building progression. The first phase should be deciding who will be back with the club come next season. As of right now the players listed below are either free agents or can become free agents which could give the Wolves more money to use in free agency this summer.
Lets take a look at what decisions the Wolves are dealing with this offseason.
Michael Beasley | SF | Age 23 | -.014 WP48 | RFA | $8.2 M Qualifying Offer
Received in a cap shaving deal with Miami two summers ago, Beasley’s career in Minnesota has followed the same path as the rest of his young NBA career…very underwhelming. Beasley was the only Wolves player to play more than 20 minutes a game and have a negative Wins Produced rating (a simple WP48 explanation chart). Meaning he was hurting the team, rather than helping them. Given the fact that he has also missed a myriad of games with different injuries throughout his time with Wolves it does not make much sense for the Wolves to extend their hand and offer Beasley a $8.2 million qualifying offer. It is fair to say that Beasley only produces on an every-other night type of basis. So given that he played in about 70% of the Wolves games last year and under the assumption that he usually produces in about 50% of the games he plays, Beasley really only contributes in about a third of the games he plays in. In an 82 game season, that would equate to around 30 games. When thinking about the decision to retain Michael Beasley in this way, it does not make a whole lot of sense to pay $8.2 million for a guy who shows up once a week.
Anthony Randolph | PF | Age 22 | .078 WP48 | RFA | $4 M Qualifying Offer
Unlike Beasley, Randolph actually produced a positive amount of wins last season, granted it wasn’t a lot. Randolph was expected to come into last season and compete for minutes at power forward and center; however, it was his continual lack of focus and inconsistency that led Rick Adelman to bolt him at the end of the bench for the better part of the season. The minutes Randolph did play this season, he split between the two big man spots as expected. He typically got killed defensively due to the fact that he was still the same brittle big man he was when David Kahn acquired during the 2011 season. In Randolph’s defense though, he always seemed to play better when given solid playing time. During Randolph’s short Wolves career, when he played more than 20 minutes in a game his points per possession (PPP) sat at a solid 1.21, but when he played sparingly he produced an awful 0.83 PPP. There is still potential and reward in the 22-year-old, however with the margin for error getting smaller and smaller for Kahn and Adelman to make the playoffs and build a contender quickly, the benefit of keeping Randolph around is just not worth the cost right now.
Martell Webster | SF | Age 25 | .097 WP48 | $5.7 M Partially Guaranteed — $600k
Unlike the two players above, Martell Webster will remain on the team next year unless he is traded or his contract is bought for $600,000. Coming back from and injured back prior to last season, Webster played in a surprising 47 games this season and wasn’t terrible compared to the rest of his teammates. Webster is probably one the better shooters on the current roster (2012: 49.1 eFG%, Career: 50.4%), but it was his continuous lapses on the defensive end and bonehead plays like this that always left people with an unstable feeling regarding him. The decision to keep Webster around for next year comes down to opportunity. The only reason to get rid of Webster would be if it allows the team to create more cap space to sign a more impactful player or deal Webster as part of a larger trade.
Brad Miller | C | Age 35 | .016 WP48 | $5.1 M Partially Guaranteed — $848k
“Big Bad” Brad announced toward the end of the season that it would be his last in the league. There is not much value here with Miller other than the possibility of using his partially guaranteed contract as a cap filler in a larger trade this summer. Either way his contract will be off the books due to his retirement and puts a little extra change back into the Wolves cap account. Thanks Brad.
Anthony Tolliver | PF | Age 26 | -.021 WP48 | UFA
Tolliver played a lot less than he did the season prior, mainly because he is not that good (-.021 WP48). He had a poor shooting year, compiling just a 45.9 eFG% and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and one can only envision him on the team next year on a basement level contract as benchwarmer. By all accounts though Tolliver is regarded as good locker room presence and would presumably be open to returning to the Wolves. But do they want him back and at what price?
Darko Milicic | C | Age 26 | -.071 WP48 | $5.2 M
This becomes one of the more important decision the Wolves will make this offseason. Amnesty Darko or continue to pay off the remainder of his contract. It was obvious the Adelman was fed up with his antics towards the end of last season as he reverted to his old ways of sitting on the end of the bench (or behind since he was inactive on most nights) with a look on his face that made one think that there were more important things going on in the stands than on the court.
The Darko saga may have finally run its course through the organization and it is up to Glen Taylor on whether he wants to amnesty him, which will effectively create more cap space for the Wolves to use, however Taylor will still have to pay Darko the remaining dollars left on his deal. Taylor has never been afraid to spend money with the hopes of winning (See: Mike James, Trenton Hassell, and Troy Hudson). So this really comes down to whether the Wolves have an opportunity to make a ‘big’ move/signing, in which case Darko may become the cap causality to bring in a warm body.
If the team decides not to bring back the players listed above, they would still have nine men on roster, with three open spots on roster, and the 18th pick in the upcoming draft. These six players played 27% of the team’s total minutes, but only produced 7% of the team’s total wins last season (1.79 Wins Produced — .020 WP48). The Wolves were paying these six players a total of $26 million last season taking up almost half the team’s payroll. It only makes sense to cut this costly dead weight that doesn’t produce on a nightly basis. The potential cap space created by trimming this fat would be somewhere in the neighbor hood of $9-12 million. Probably not enough to chase the top-tier free agents, so that dream can die quickly, but enough to something substantial in order to get better.
If the Wolves make any serious move(s) this offseason it will most likely be via trade. Adelman has admittedly express the need for more veteran players on the roster for next year. So even with all this new cap space, how they use it will be an entirely different matter.
But step one is getting this team’s cap situation in shape for the summer.