If the Wolves’ main goal in not becoming “sellers” at Thursday’s trade deadline was trying to gear up for a strong finish and possible long-shot playoff push, that notion evaporated about 36 hours later at the conclusion of an 0-3 road trip Friday at New Orleans.
It’s possible, though, that economic realities were just as important to their lack of activity. Deals the Wolves likely would have been able to pull off at the deadline involving veterans on expiring contracts might have involved getting back players under contract for next season in addition to a future asset like a second-round pick.
The problem with that is the Wolves will already have close to $110 million committed to next year’s salary cap — more than $100 million of which is devoted to just five players — if Jeff Teague exercises his $19 million player option for 2019-20.
That puts them pretty much right at next year’s projected cap ($109 million) and doesn’t give them a ton of wiggle room under the luxury tax threshold ($132 million) to sign free agents and a likely lottery pick.
To create any sort of meaningful makeover, whoever is running the Wolves this offseason — whether it’s holdover GM Scott Layden or someone new — is going to have to relieve some of that pressure, much of it being caused by three of the biggest transgressions of the Tom Thibodeau-as-basketball-president era:
Giving Gorgui Dieng a four-year, $63 million contract and then diminishing his role and value by signing Taj Gibson as a starter at a similar position; giving Andrew Wiggins a max extension ($27 million next season, escalating by $2 million per year for three more seasons after that); and giving Teague the opportunity for an expensive third year on his deal.
The Star Tribune’s Chris Hine reported the Wolves tried to move Dieng and Teague at the deadline, to no avail — with neither the attempt nor the failure all that surprising. The bigger question is Wiggins, and whether the Wolves can get anything approaching value for him either on the court or in a trade.
But those are summer questions, not February questions — particularly given all the upheaval that has already taken place this season.
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The Wolves are 6-9 under Ryan Saunders since he took over as interim coach, and the games have rarely been boring. Of the 15 games, the Wolves have either led or trailed by two points or fewer in the final minute of regulation in 10 of them. Minnesota is 4-6 in those games.
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One of the more remarkable winning streaks in recent memory came to an end Friday when the St. Thomas men’s hockey team lost to St. John’s 4-1.
Until that game, the St. Thomas men’s and women’s hockey and basketball teams had all gone undefeated in 2019 — a combined record of 41-0-5 since Jan. 1.
The Tommies men’s basketball team, by the way, also lost this weekend — an 88-86 loss to Augsburg on Saturday that ended a 21-game winning streak. But the women’s hockey and basketball teams both kept their streaks going and are both undefeated in MIAC play.
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Several former Packers teammates of quarterback Aaron Rodgers have been critical of him this offseason. Among them was former defensive lineman Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila. He was quoted by Forbes.com as saying:
“When Aaron became ‘The Man,’ he was ‘The Man’, especially in his own eyes. Let’s just put it that way. Things just changed. … With everything that Brett [Favre] accomplished, you would think he’d be a little more arrogant, but he was actually more humble. And I felt that Aaron was a little bit more on the arrogant side.”