Minnesota Timberwolves 2024 NBA offseason preview: No. 1 priority should be winning a championship

2023-24 season: 56-26

Highlight of the season: The second-round series win against the defending champion Denver Nuggets solidified the Wolves as not just a real threat in the postseason, but a team to watch for the future. As impressive as their regular season play had been, doubts still lingered, and for them to clear Denver in that manner silenced those doubts.

In a fog of laughs, frustrated grunts and shrugged shoulders. They reached the end of their destination against the Dallas Mavericks, undoubtedly breaking their hearts but understanding they have what it takes to play among the big boys now.

For the T-wolves, this season wasn’t all about playoff glory. It was about finding out just how good they were, before stepping into one of the most financially volatile summers in franchise history, with three players (Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns and Jaden McDaniels) beginning major contract extensions.

They got their answer — which is “pretty friggin’ good,” in case anyone was wondering. They were the NBA’s best defensive team, were able to demolish most teams in the regular season and gave extremely potent offensive clubs the business in the postseason, underlining the point they weren’t just a team built for one good year.

The T-wolves will enter this summer on safer ground knowing this team is worth hanging onto, even if they do have to make changes around the margins. They have their star, Edwards, in place and signed until 2029. Rudy Gobert, the league’s Defensive Player of the Year, has at least one more season left on his deal, and Towns is under contract until 2028. If they wish to move forward with this core, they have every chance to.

Of course, they also have question marks. Does McDaniels have the necessary offensive upside to be their permanent wing, or do they need to move pieces around to accommodate him better? Who is the long-term replacement for Mike Conley, who will be 37 by the time next season rolls around? And finally, where will they internally find the necessary offense to make them an undeniable year-to-year championship contender?

Fortunately, the T-wolves can allow themselves to answer those questions over a period of time. After a season of this type of success, making sweeping changes would appear foolish and desperate. Besides, given the ownership kerfuffle, the T-wolves have enough to worry about in the immediate future.

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards answers questions during a news conference after the team's loss to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals Thursday, May 30, 2024, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Matt Krohn)
Anthony Edwards and the Minnesota Timberwolves have no reason to panic after reaching the Western Conference finals. (AP Photo/Matt Krohn)

A scoring wing. The team simply doesn’t have enough potent offensive players, from a consistency perspective, to carve out a long competitive window. Minnesota needs some more offensive oomph, particularly from the forward spot.

Minnesota has a late first-round and early second-round pick this year. Miami freshman wing Kyshawn George has been a hot name all season long with his untapped potential at 6-8 and is a legit scoring threat. With the talent the Timberwolves have, they have the luxury to draft a player based on potential and develop him within the system. — Krysten Peek

Draft picks: Nos. 27, 37

The T-wolves will be extraordinarily expensive next season, toeing the line of crossing the second tax apron, which would essentially handcuff them in terms of roster flexibility and upgrade possibilities.

As currently constructed, $151 million is already earmarked to just four players (Towns, Gobert, Edwards, and McDaniels), which is $10 million over the salary cap, and that’s before accounting for Naz Reid ($13.9 million), Conley ($9.9 million) and whatever it will cost to keep Monte Morris. To make matters worse, in 2025, they will need to re-sign Nickeil Alexander-Walker, who has become a vital part of their bench defense. Financially, the Wolves are in a tough spot.

Key free agents

Kyle Anderson (UFA)

Monte Morris (UFA)

Given how they played this season, and given how much money they’ve committed to this roster, there’s no two ways about it: next season’s goal is to win the title. If they internally settle for anything less, you have to wonder what the point of this team is.

Edwards is looking like the future face of the NBA. He's not even 23 years old, but he's proving to be one of the league's premier scorers. Ant-Man is coming off the best season of his young career, and he's only getting better. He finished as an early third-round value in points and category leagues after posting career-highs in points, assists, field-goal percentage and free-throw percentage. He should be an early second-round pick next year.

Gobert beat his ADP by one round, returning fifth-round value for fantasy managers in his bounce-back campaign. Towns was solid when healthy, but his absence allowed Reid to flourish, eventually becoming the Sixth Man of the Year. I'd expect KAT to fall outside of the second round in drafts, while Reid is worth an eighth-/ninth-round pick.