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Key decision by Wolves owner Glen Taylor paved way for D'Angelo Russell trade

It was either enter the luxury tax or bust for the Wolves.

Billionaire owner Glen Taylor deserves credit for opening his bank account to allow the Timberwolves to enter the luxury tax through a series of trades that ultimately saw Andrew Wiggins go to the Warriors for All-Star 23-year-old point guard D'Angelo Russell. 

In an interview with Darren Wolfson on The Scoop podcast, Taylor said President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas needed the Wolves to enter the luxury tax so he could orchestrate trades that would've otherwise been impossible.  

"It's a difficult one. It's a financial one that I don't particularly like to be there. But when we got down to how we were going to do all of these trades and to work it out to get the right players, it just came up that we were going to go over," said Taylor. 

"Eventually he asked me to make a decision and if I was willing to do that and I told him I was. That gave him some freedom to do some things that when we had a lower figure he just couldn't do."

How difficult was the decision to let his club go into the luxury tax?

"Since we're talking about millions of dollars it wasn't a snap of the fingers," Taylor said with a laugh. "If we get our team and we win and show that we can be a very competitive team, then I'll be really satisfied with my decision." 

Dane Moore of Zone Coverage reports that Taylor will be billed a tax payment of approximately $3 million. 

Granted, attendance should rise and lead to revenue increases for a team that is last in the league in attendance, in addition to expected merchandise sales increases with a fanbase reinvigorated by the arrival of new players, namely Russell and Malik Beasley, whom Minnesota got in the four-team, 12-player trade that sent Robert Covington to the Rockets. 

The move could also prove monumental in keeping Karl-Anthony Towns happy and in Minnesota. 

“I think with D-Lo here, it’s always going to be a big incentive for me to want to stay,” Towns told The Athletic's Jon Krawczynski Thursday night. “D-Lo is a big part of everything the vision is. D-Lo always knows he’s going to be wanted because his brother is here with him and he always knows he’s going to have his back covered because I’m always going to be there for him.”

What's more is that Rosas has created a cap situation that should allow the Wolves to be aggressive this summer in free agency. Look at the salary committed to 2020-21 as it stands today, according to Spotrac. 

  • Karl-Anthony Towns - $29,467,800
  • D'Angelo Russell - $28,649,250
  • James Johnson - $16,047,100 (player option)
  • Jarrett Culver - $6,104,280
  • Jake Layman - $3,761,085
  • Josh Okogie - $2,771,040
  • Jacob Evans - $2,017,320
  • Omari Spellman - $1,988,280
  • Jarred Vanderbilt - $1,663,861
  • Naz Reid - $1,517,981
  • Cole Aldrich - $685,340 (dead cap)

That's a total of approximately $92.6 million, which is more than $21 million under the projected 2020-21 salary cap of $114 million. If Johnson doesn't opt in, that'll give Rosas around $37 million in cap space. 

A sizable chunk of that could go to Beasley, who is a restricted free agent, with another small chunk to Juan Hernangomez, also a restricted free agent. 

Allen Crabbe and Evan Turner, who Taylor said the Wolves might buy out of his contract, are unrestricted free agents after this season. 

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