Welcome to the Monday edition of The Cooler, where it always pays to look ahead. Let’s get to it:
*When dissecting the Timberwolves’ offseason needs, wants and potential spending, perhaps the most complicated situation belongs to Tyus Jones.
He’s a restricted free agent after not receiving an extension last year. Jones was drafted by Flip Saunders and later shoehorned into Tom Thibodeau’s system. Now he’s being evaluated by a third set of eyes belonging to Gersson Rosas, and it’s unclear how the new Timberwolves president feels about retaining Jones even if he appears to like him as a player and person.
“Right now, we’re in an offensive era, and a lot of the things that he does in terms of play making and his ability to create pace are things that are valuable,” Rosas said last month. “I’m excited about him not only as a basketball player, but him as an individual and what he means to this community.”
Those things could also make him valuable to another team, which is where things get very interesting.
Jones’ market is potentially volatile. He’s primarily been a backup in four seasons with the Wolves, starting just 34 of his 247 games in that span. But there are a lot of teams with cap space and needs at point guard. Is Tyus a $6-8 million a year player? Is he worth $10+ million? Is he worth less than either guess? I honestly don’t know, but all it takes is one team to decide he’s in the $10M+ category to force the Wolves into a hard decision — match or move on? — as a team with point guard needs but not cap space.
Of particular interest: ESPN’s rankings of the top 30 NBA free agents who can begin agreeing to contracts in less than a week finds Jones at No. 17 overall. This is a nod in large part to a projection of his Wins Above Replacement Level over the next three years.
By my count, that puts Jones fifth among all free agent point guards — behind only big-money free agent candidates Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, D’Angelo Russell and Malcolm Brogdon and ahead of several others, including Ricky Rubio (No. 23).
Jones is an excellent floor general and a good team defender, but his shooting is a liability and his on-ball defending skills tend to be suspect. He’s a bit of an analytics darling, and his OOU rating (one of us) is off the charts.
The Wolves could definitely use someone like Jones on their roster, and he could function quite well in the type of system Rosas and Ryan Saunders want to implement. The question comes from his relative value, and the market that forms around him will be interesting to watch.
*Not a lot of things are going right for the Mets this year, and chief among them is their manager and one of their pitchers swearing at and threatening a reporter who covers the team.
*In happier MLB news, Wilkin Castillo stroked a two-run double for the Marlins over the weekend. It was Castillo’s first hit in the major leagues in just over 10 years.
*The Twins are in the midst of their clunkiest stretch of baseball all year, but get this: They’re still above .500 as they lumber through it. After defeating Tampa Bay on June 2 to take a 40-18 record, the Twins are 10-9 since as they’ve battled through starting pitching inconsistency and some injuries to key regulars.
They’ve survived relatively unscathed thanks in large part to going 5-0 in one-run games during that stretch. Suffice to say they’ll need to start playing better soon. But also: Every team is prone to lulls, and the best ones stay above water even when they aren’t at their best.