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Minnesota Timberwolves Shuffle the Deck

The Timberwolves made two moves on Tuesday, adding a talented prospect and increasing their flexibility.

Eric Pincus profile picture
Updated 10 months ago on
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The Minnesota Timberwolves were busy on Tuesday, completing two separate trades.

Veteran point guard Mo Williams, along with second-year guard Troy Daniels, were sent to the Charlotte Hornets for guard Gary Neal and a 2019 second-round pick.

Minnesota also acquired rookie forward Adreian Payne from the Atlanta Hawks for a protected first-round pick.

In the deal with the Hornets, the Wolves also agreed to send $344,462 in cash.

The second-round pick will come from the Miami HEAT, which was originally dealt to the Hornets for the draft rights to Shabazz Napier.

Technically, Williams’ $3.75 million was traded directly for Neal’s $3.25 million contract, giving the Timberwolves a traded player exception (TPE) for the remaining $500,000.

Because Daniels is a minimum salaried player at $816,000, the Hornets were able to acquire him without sending a player in return – giving the Wolves another trade exception for that same amount.

Minnesota didn’t need to send a current player to Atlanta in order to acquire Payne’s $1.9 million salary for the season.  Instead, they used a portion of their Corey Brewer TPE, leaving a balance of $2.9 million (expiring on 12/19/15).

The Timberwolves are well stocked with trade exceptions for future flexibility.

The franchise has a $6.3 million TPE for Kevin Love (expiring 8/23/15) and $1.5 million TPE for Ronny Turiaf (expiring 12/19/15), in addition to the Brewer, Williams and Daniels exceptions.

Minnesota has now traded away two future first-round picks, although there’s a chance either (or both) picks will convert to a pair of second-rounders. The Hawks will receive their pick from the Wolves two years after Minnesota sends a first to the Phoenix Suns (via the Robin Lopez and Wesley Johnson trades).

At 11-41 on the season, the Wolves will have their top-12 protection kick in this June, delaying their obligation to the Suns until 2016.  If Minnesota still has a top-12 pick next year, Phoenix will get second-rounders in 2016 and 2017 instead of the first.

The pick to the Hawks won’t come in 2017, since the Suns pick won’t convey in 2015.

Additionally, the pick to Atlanta is top-14 protected through 2020.  If the Wolves are still a lottery team for each of those seasons, the Hawks will instead get a pair of second-rounders (2020 and 2021).

As far as the 2015 NBA Draft goes, the Timberwolves will have their own picks in both rounds, along with a second-rounder from the 18-33 Sacramento Kings (via Jason Terry and Brewer trades) – provided it’s in the 31-49 range (which it will be).

The Wolves will also get a second-rounder from the Denver Nuggets (Brewer), but the Timberwolves will pass that on to the Houston Rockets (Brewer, Tanguy Ngombo and Thomas Robinson deals).

With the dust settling after their pair of transactions on Tuesday, the Timberwolves have 14 guaranteed contracts along with a 10-day contract player in guard Lorenzo Brown.

The team’s payroll is $64.6 million, with a roster that is finally healthy.

Too many wins won’t help their draft position, but the team seems willing to see what the likes of Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Andrew Wiggins, Thaddeus Young, Nikola Pekovic, Gorgui Dieng, Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad, Anthony Bennett and Payne can do in the Western Conference.

It’s far, far too late for a playoff push, but the Wolves can afford to win a few games without much worry of losing a top-five pick.

Eric Pincus is a Senior Writer for Basketball Insiders, with a focus on the business side of the game.

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