Mary Altaffer/Associated Press
“There has been a lot of Minnesota (signing) D’Angelo Russell noise,” ESPN’s Zach Lowe said on his Lowe Post podcast (h/t RealGM). “And it’s not all Karl Towns commenting on Instagram because they’re friends. Minnesota has communicated to the league, not the NBA league, just the league at large that they believe they have a pathway to get D’Angelo Russell.
“I can’t see what it is because they’re capped out and they have all of these contracts nobody wants, but they’ve communicated that.”
Russell, 23, will enter free agency as a restricted free agent but could become unrestricted if the Nets sign Kyrie Irving. Brooklyn would likely renounce Russell’s rights in that case, allowing him to sign with the team of his choosing.
The Nets are considered the favorite to land Irving as the June 30 start to free agency approaches, though nothing is set in stone.
The Timberwolves have a difficult pathway to land Russell. It would require them to dump Jeff Teague and Gorgui Dieng into a team’s cap space, which would get them to around the 25 percent max slot Russell will be seeking on the open market.
Teague will make $19 million next season but is a competent starting point guard, so a team may only ask for one or two second-round picks in exchange. Dieng has $33.5 million remaining on his contract over the next two years, making it a near-impossible deal to move. The Wolves would likely have to part ways with two future firsts to get out from under that contract.
It’s possible the Wolves look into dealing Andrew Wiggins as well, but their public comments have indicated they plan on running things back with him next season.
Russell averaged 21.1 points, 7.0 assists and 3.9 rebounds on 43.6 percent shooting last season, making his first All-Star team. While there are still glaring flaws in his game, particularly when it comes to defense and shot selection, he’s flashed enough improvements to make him one of the offseason’s hottest commodities.
That the Wolves would have to not only max him out but also trade a bunch of future assets to clear cap space makes it unlikely this comes close to happening.