NBA teams must have an opening day roster selected set by 5 p.m. Eastern Time on Oct. 28, the day prior to the beginning of the season, and may contain a maximum of 15 players — teams are permitted to carry 20 players in the offseason. Oct. 31, three days later, marks the final day rookie-scale contracts can be extended and rookie options on contracts for the 2014-15 season may be exercised. The Minnesota Timberwolves have 18 players on the roster, they’ll need all four preseason games between now and Oct. 28 to determine who is fit to join a pack hunting for the playoffs this season. The Wolves must also decide whether or not to pick up Derrick Williams‘ $6,331,404 option for the upcoming season.
One of these decisions is easy, the other — not so much.
Williams scored 21 in Monday’s loss to CSKA Moscow over 30 minutes. He shot 7-of -15 from the field and 7-of-12 from the free throw line in the team’s preseason opener and was aggressive getting to the line, scoring but also made rebounding — snatching nine boards. Because of the injury to Chase Budinger, the Wolves declining Williams’ option seems unlikely, he’ll get run at trying to live up to the expectations of a No. 2 overall draft selection.
The new Collective Bargaining Agreement requires teams to carry 12 players on its active list and at least one, but up to three, players the inactive list. This means that 12 players dress on game days while up to three, but no less than one, must remain in active or on assignment to the NBDL or D-League. The active and inactive list must be set one hour before tip-off and may be done on a nightly basis.
The Timberwolves’ preseason roster includes;
- Ricky Rubio
- Kevin Love
- Nikola Pekovic
- Kevin Martin
- Derrick Williams
- Chase Budinger
- Alexey Shved
- J.J. Barea
- Dante Cunningham
- Corey Brewer
- Ronny Turiaf
- Gorgui Dieng
- Shabazz Muhammad
I believe everyone in the first group has already secured themselves a roster position. This leaves two places open for the second group containing Johnson, Hummel, Brown, Jeffers and Price. I touched a little on each of these players last month word spread Price was to be the final invite to camp.
Here’s a depth chart so we can determine if there’s any needs.
- Point Guard — Rubio, Shved
- Shooting Guard — Martin, Shved
- Small Forward — Brewer, Williams, Muhammad, Budinger
- Power Forward — Love, Cunningham
- Center — Pekovic, Turiaf, Dieng
This fulfills league requirements by having 12 active and at least one inactive player because of the injury to Budinger. The addition of rookies Muhammad and Dieng create a surplus of players at the SF and C positions.
Hypothetically, and for fun, we’ll pretend president of basketball operations Flip Saunders and coach Rick Adelman assign the draft the team’s top-two draft picks to the Wolves D-League affiliate — the Iowa Energy. After removal of the rookies we’re left with two players at each position with the exemption of SF because of the presence of Budinger. Williams, a known tweener, has the ability to play both SF and PF; leaving seven SF,PF and Cs and only four guards. (Remember Muhammad and Dieng still count on the roster of 15)
Johnson is 6’11″ and weighs 210 pounds and whether that makes him a C or PF — he’s the first player removed from the list. He’s owed an affordable $346,781 this season, which the team would have to pay Johnson before cutting him. Four centers is too many and if Budinger’s return means more minutes at PF for Williams — there’s no where for C.J. to go. Johnson has not played thus far this preseason.
Jeffers and Price played 20, Hummel saw six and Brown saw zero minutes during Monday’s game against CSKA. Hummel scored five points on 2-of-3 shooting from the field and 1-of-2 from the 3-point line. Price scored 14 on 5-of-7 shooting and 4-of-5 from the free-throw line while Jeffers scored six points on 3-of-7 shooting and was a presence rebounding the ball, tallying five boards against the Russian club.
Hummel is another player who only adds to an already high inventory of SF’s. Hummel didn’t play in Wednesday’s game against the Toronto Raptors but did see 22 minutes against the Milwaukee Bucks the following night. Against the Milwaukee Bucks in Sioux Falls, S.D.–a Nate Wolters homecoming–Hummel scored 10 points on 3-of-10 from the field and 1-of-2 from 3-point range, not a very efficient night for the former Purdue Boilermaker. We’ll see more of him in the remaining preseason games and possibly as soon as Saturday night, the Wolves host the Raptors at Target Center — tip off is 7 p.m. Central Time.
Performances like the 18-point, 6-of-8 shooting performance in addition to being 2-for-2 from long range and 4-of-5 charity stripe in a loss the the Phoenix Suns in the Las Vegas Summer League make Hummel tough to release, but he’s expendable because of pieces in front of him on this chart.
This means we must eliminate Brown, Jeffers or Price.
Here are Brown’s LVSL numbers:
- 19.2 minutes per game
- 50 3PT%
- 38 FG%
- 2.2 assists per game
- 1.8 turnovers per game
He failed to score playing 16 and a half minutes in Wednesday’s game in Toronto, his only worthy statistic of mention are his two assists. Against the Bucks, Brown scored six points on 2-of-8 shooting and had an assist. Thus far, he’s been outplayed by the two guards invited to the team prior to camp.
Price, hoping to play in his fifth season, played with the Washington Wizards last season, where Wolves general manager Milt Newton worked in the front office. Newton was hired as GM on Sept. 6. Here are his preseason numbers going into Saturday night’s game against the Raptors.
Playing 40 minutes in two games:
- 9-of-17 FG
- 1-of-4 3PT
- 5-of-6 FT
- 5 ast
- 3 tov
- 2 steals
Jeffers appears to be the frontrunner for one of the final two roster slots, in fact — he’s the odds on favorite.
“He just really competes hard—he’s been really fun to watch,” David Adelman, the team’s Summer League coach said. “But I would say beyond that he’s got a special skill set. He’s just very competitive. He likes to get behind the lines and play.”
He finally made it to the league after going undrafted despite averaging 24 points and 11 rebounds a game at Robert Morris University. He was selected by the Iowa Energy in the 2008-09 D-League draft; there Jeffers averaged 20 points and nine rebounds per game and was named the NBADL Rookie of the Year.
“I feel like I’m bringing something to the table where the team may be lacking right now,” Jeffers said at training camp in Mankato, Minn. “If I get that opportunity, if they bless me with that situation, I won’t let them down.”
Jeffers had a team-high 13 points in thursday’s 98-89 win over the Bucks, shooting 5-of-9 from the field and snatching six rebounds. He’s a visual example of his strength and tenacity.
Again, the Wolves host the Raptors Saturday night for the team’s fourth preseason game, where it’s likely we’ll see more of Hummel, Brown, Jeffers and Price. Will it be the first game we see Johnson? On Tuesday I wrote about Shved’s performance against CSKA on Monday and why it wasn’t a sign of things to come for the 24-year old second year NBA player. Since then he’s 7-of-11 from the field and 4-of-6 from 3-point range land he’s also dished out seven assists — is he mentally stronger this season? Also, Martin, or “K-Mart” as fans have titled him, started and played six minutes in Toronto on Wednesday before going to the sideline with a strained Achilles — he’s day-to-day, but should be good to go by the season opener.
I trust Saunders and Adelman to adequately assess each player of the 18-man roster prior to making decision of final cuts, they’re professionals. Regardless, the Timberwolves have choices to make before the end of the month; a sort of luxury, compared to having to endure last season’s onslaught of injuries.
Tags: 2013-2014 Roster A.J. Price Bucks Chase Budinger Corey Brewer Derick Williams Derrick Williams Flip Saunders Kevin Love Kevin Martin Milwaukee Bucks Minnesota Minnesota Timberwolves NBA NBADL Othyus Jeffers Preseason Rick Adelman Ricky Rubio Roster Breakdown Wolves