Tyus Jones’ time playing for his hometown team has come to an end.
The Wolves had tried to come to a deal with the Apple Valley native as free agency began and extended throughout the last week, but Jones’ offer from Memphis would have put them up against the luxury tax, and they would have been tied to Jones for the next three years with a salary over $9 million per season.
“We sincerely thank Tyus for his contributions on the court and Tyus and the entire Jones family for their genuine impact on the Twin Cities community,” Wolves President Gersson Rosas said in a statement. “We wish them nothing but the best in Memphis.”
Jones did not respond when contacted late Tuesday night.
Part of the Wolves’ thinking in not bringing back Jones was to maintain flexibility as it pertains to the salary cap. They swung and missed on acquiring D’Angelo Russell in free agency, but it’s Rosas’ goal to acquire elite-level talent to surround Karl-Anthony Towns with in the future.
Jones doesn’t match up with those plans. With that contract, Memphis viewed him as a main contributor and potential starter playing alongside No. 2 overall pick Ja Morant while the Wolves viewed Jones as a backup and weren’t willing to pay that kind of money, a source said, especially since the Wolves are restructuring the roster under Rosas.
Signing Jones might have made the Wolves better for next season, but it would have done so at the expense of future cap flexibility and maneuvering should a max contract player become available to them in free agency or the trade market.
Rosas has said his goal is to bring in talent to maximize the prime of Towns’ career. The Wolves made the calculation that Jones wasn’t a part of those plans and gaining future cap flexibility was worth letting him walk out the door. The Wolves have maintained flexibility in most of their other moves this offseason, signing multiple players to one-year deals.
Jones spent four seasons with the Wolves after the team moved up to select him with the 24th overall pick in the 2015 draft. Last season, Jones’s shooting percentages decreased from 46 to 42 as he averaged 6.9 points per game, but his assist to turnover ratio (4.8 to 0.7 pet game last season) was one of the best in the league.