Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Oh My Goodness

Well, now we know. If you want to rid your franchise of a curse, the cost is $1.129 billion dollars.


It's nice to be on the right side of a miracle win this time of year for once.

An NFC Championship game preview will be coming later this week, as will an updated NFL Mock Draft.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Timberwolves Cap Situation is Fine

Last Friday, ESPN's Nick Friedell wrote an article chronicling the Minnesota Timberwolves dire cap situation over the next few seasons. While the article is mostly factually correct, their doesn't seem to be much common sense factored in. For one, they seem to include Cole Aldrich and Shabazz Muhammed in the totals. Aldrich has a $2 million buyout that the team will certainly exercise, and Muhammed has a very low paying player option he will decline as he's not even getting playing time.

I recommend reading the whole piece, to be sure, but these were the points I want to focus on:
According to ESPN NBA front-office expert Bobby Marks, the Timberwolves currently have $117 million in salaries locked into place for the 2018-19 season. Marks also points out that the luxury tax is projected to be at $123 million, which would mean that if the current roster stays intact, the Timberwolves would be only $6 million below the tax line with four roster spots left to fill.
As mentioned above, the numbers here aren't exactly correct. My calculations have the Wolves at $111 million in commitments for 9 players.

Nemanja Bjelica will likely be retained too, but that's hardly a guarantee given the teams financial situation. For now, I'm going to pretend the Wolves simply let him leave as well. Including Aldrich's $2 million buyout, the Wolves would be just under $113 million. That would give them $10 million to fill six roster spots, which sounds like quite a task.

However, the Wolves will almost certainly get rid of Dieng this off-season. While his salary is an issue for any acquiring team, it's worth remembering Gorgui was a solid starting caliber big man prior to the Wolves adding Taj Gibson, and he's still just 28 years old so he should have several solid years left.

I wouldn't expect the Wolves to get much in return, likely a late first round pick or a second round pick ideally from a team with cap space.

That would put the Wolves payroll around $98 million with 7 spots to fill. Adding in the OKC Thunder late first rounder and we'll say a mid-2nd rounder for Dieng, the Wolves would have about $101 million in commitments with 10 of the 15 roster spots taken.

Considering the team will likely be relegated to using the mid-level (~$8M per year) and bi-annual (~$3M per year) exceptions (because they will be over the cap) as well as signing players for the minimum, having $22 million to spend on 5 players isn't really an issue. Even if the team uses their entire mid-level exception on one player and their entire bi-annual exception on another, they'd still be about $10M under the tax with 3 roster spots available and nothing but minimum salary deals to offer.

In other words, as long as the Wolves are able to find someone to take Gorgui Dieng's contract, they should be able to avoid the luxury tax rather easily in 2018-2019. A team like the Nets would likely happily take Dieng for pennies on the dollar if they swing and miss on other veteran free agents.

So, sorry, ESPN, but the Wolves finances are likely fine for the 2018-2019 season.

On to 2020, from ESPN:

And the 2019-20 season is where things will hurt even more for the young group if Thibodeau decides to keep the core together. With Wiggins' rookie max extension already in place, and Towns' rookie max extension likely forthcoming at a starting salary of $27 million per year, the Timberwolves would have $132 million in guaranteed contracts -- that's without Gibson -- locked into place and would be over the projected tax line of $131 million if Thibodeau decides to offer Butler a max extension and Butler decides to take it.
These numbers are a bit high in my estimation, and again it assumes Dieng is still on the roster at this point. Here's what I have:

That assumes Butler opts out of his player option and signs for the max, while Jeff Teague opts in to his $19 million. Butler and Towns maximum salaries could be slightly higher or lower, as these numbers are with a $108M cap projection. Butler will receive 30% of the cap, while Towns will receive 25% of the cap as their starting maximum salaries.

The Wolves would also have about $3.5M tied up in the OKC first rounder and the second rounder acquired for Dieng, so they'd have $115.5M in commitments for 8 players. With the tax line projected at $131M, that gives the Wolves $15.5M to fill 7 spots. Obviously, that's less than ideal, but it's worth remembering going over the luxury tax for one season isn't a huge issue if Glen Taylor can afford it. If the Wolves spend, say, $133M, only $2M is subject to the luxury tax payments.

So while ESPN is correct that the Timberwolves financial situation is about to make things expensive for Glen Taylor, they'd have to consciously try to get over the tax line, something they obviously won't do.

Oddly enough, Thibs coaching has seemed less than stellar at times while his decision making as a GM hasn't been terrible. As a coach, he's overplaying his starters like he has every season, and the lineups he has used to start fourth quarters has been terrible. As a GM, he signed Taj Gibson who's been very solid. He traded for Jimmy Butler, who's the main reason for the Wolves turn around. And while I prefer Rubio to Jeff Teague, even that swap wasn't a huge deal as Teague has a better reputation (incorrectly) around the league and the Wolves got a first round pick. It's a lot easier to convince an aging veteran to sign for the league minimum with a core of Butler-Teague-Towns-Wiggins, to be sure.

If Glen Taylor is willing to allow the Timberwolves to spend as close to the luxury tax as possible without going over, they shouldn't have a problem keeping the core around. Admittedly, I'm assuming that someone is willing to take Dieng's contract off the Wolves hands this off-season, but that seems far more likely than the Wolves trading from their core anytime in the near future. And they'll need to find a starting big man to replace Gibson and Dieng, but there's a chance that Justin Patton could develop into that player.

Worry not, Wolves fans. It's entirely possible this current core is around for a while, despite the article you may have read.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Updated 2018 NFL Mock Draft

We've updated our 2018 NFL Mock Draft, adding small blurbs for every pick as well. You can find it here. Enjoy!


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