The Minnesota Timberwolves have been one of the most active teams this offseason, trading for Chase Budinger, signing Brandon Roy and Alexey Shved, and signing Nic Batum to a large offer sheet. That being said, if the Batum offer sheet goes through, the T-Wolves will have seventeen players under contract for next year, or two more than allowed. That's where the Cleveland Cavaliers come in.
Part of the Cavs' rebuilding plan includes maintaining cap space for trades,rather than free agency. Typically, the thought process is to assume a bad contract for a draft pick. While this didn't work out in the recent Dwight Howard trade talks due to Kris Humphries' demands, it is still a possibility.
One move that I propose would be the Cavs using their cap space to take on the contract of Wes Johnson, and also receive a first round pick for doing so. As far as the pick goes, while the Timberwolves would probably want the pick to be lottery (or at least top 10) protected, there is a legitimate chance that their recent moves make them a playoff team, albeit one with a draft pick in the mid to late teens. Certainly a first round pick in 2013 or 2014 is an assett worth taking on Johnson's contract.
This brings us to Wesley Johnson. It's hard to believe that just two years ago he was taken fourth in the 2010 NBA draft, ahead of such players as Demarcus Cousins and Greg Monroe. While never considered to have the upsides of other players, at 23 years old and witha solid all around game, Jonson was considered a safe pick and someone who could play in the NBA right away. Compared by DraftExpress, NBADraft.net, and Jay Bilas to Shawn Marion, Johnson put up very solid numbers a Syracuse with 16.5 ppg., 8.5 rpg., .415 3p%, and 1.8 blkpg. on .600 true shooting and a 24.2 PER. So what happened in the NBA?
Well, a few things seem to be an issue. First of all as mentioned in both his DraftExpress profile and basketballprospectus.com, the Timberwolves have spent much of the time playing Johnson out of position at shooting guard. While at Syracuse, Johnson played mostly small forward and some power forward. With the Timberwolves, Johonson has played much less small forward and virtually no power forward. The Timberwolves seem to use Johnson as a floor spacer, but his final year at Syracuse was the only year he was even an average three point shooter, with percentages of .349 and .316 in the two years before that. Basically, Johnson has not been allowed to play to his strengths at all. This would be like forcing Tristan Thompson to play Antawn Jamison's style of game just because Jamison left.
By moving him back to the three and allowing him to focus on running the floor and finishing with help from his point guard, hit the open three, and defend other small forwards, a team may be able to get much more out of Johnson.
Looking at Johnson's contract, he is owed $4,285,560 this coming season, with a club option of $5,421,233 the following season. His qualifying offer after that is more than seven million dollars. Basically the Cavs would only be on the hook for the first season, which would only eat up a relatively small part of this year's cap space and could potentially be gone after this coming season.
Considering the quality of the potential draft pick, the potential upside of Johnson, the Cavs' interest in Big East players (Waiters, Harangody, possibly Jonny Flynn), and the possibility that some team may sign Alonzo Gee to an absurd offer sheet (see Flelds, Landry). This seems like a great opportunity for the Cavs.