Before the trades – The Timberpups are terrible
You think I mean the Timberwolves, right?
No, I mean the Timberpups. Timberwolves is a cool name, this team doesn’t deserve it.
They have lost 13 straight games for almost a month now, along with going on an 11 game losing streak in December. But the real problem here is when you look at the teams they played during this stretch, you would expect them to lose because those teams are much better.
The exception to that statement is a loss to Cleveland, but even Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins were both out. I know that simply going through the schedule and saying because Minnesota is worse than the majority of the teams they play doesn’t mean that they can’t beat those said teams, but Minnesota may have the worst roster in the league.
If not worst than at least bottom five. Speaking of Minnesota’s best players, a bit of slack can be cut with KAT being out 17 games and Wiggins eight. But the lack of legitimate NBA players on this roster is a bit worrisome.
In Monday’s game against Sacramento, they played rookies Kelan Martin and Jordan McLaughlin almost 20 minutes apiece. Hypothetically if this roster made the playoffs, who is their top 8? KAT, Wiggins, Robert Covington, rookie Jarrett Culver, Shabazz Napier are definitely there but what about the guys coming off the bench?
First round pick Josh Okogie deserves a look at as an athletic three-and-d style wing. Free agent acquisition Jake Layman has only played 14 games this season but projects as a shooter. The last guy I would go with is veteran centre Gorgui Dieng, who’s played less than 20 minutes a game this season.
So with that, how many rotational NBA players are here? Definitely three with KAT, Wiggins, and Covington. Most of the remaining guys would be end of the bench guys at best, which leaves a lot of the burden on Jarrett Culver, a rookie who has shown some promise but needs more time.
In short, Minnesota needs to figure out how to get some rotational pieces on this roster, before KAT becomes even more fed up than he currently is.
After the trades – Reinforcements?
Well, the Timberwolves were definitely active before the trade deadline.
Tuesday night Minnesota send out Robert Covington and Jordan Bell to Houston, as well as Shabazz Napier, Noah Vonleh, and Keita Bates Diop to Denver. In return, the Timberwolves got Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez, Jarred Vanderbilt from the Nuggets as well as Evan Turner and Brooklyn’s first round pick from the Hawks.
The pièce de résistance in this first set of moves is Malik Beasley, a fourth year guard from Florida State. He had a breakout season with Denver last season, averaging a career high 11 points, mostly off the bench. Denver did offer him a 3 year, 30 million dollar extension but he declined.
Not wanting to play the free agency game, the Nuggets probably had a number in mind that he could possibly get in free agency and that didn’t match what they wanted to pay him. Same thing goes for Hernangomez, who was drafted four picks before Beasley.
Jarred Vanderbilt could be something, but he doesn’t really excel on one side of the ball. Evan Turner could be a backup point guard, but that didn’t really work with Atlanta. That first round pick from Brooklyn via Atlanta is also an avenue to get another quality NBA player, with that pick being projected at 16.
|D’Angelo Russell (GSW)||Andrew Wiggins (GSW)|
|Jacob Evans (GSW)||Robert Covington (HOU)|
|Omari Spellman (GSW)||Jordan Bell (HOU, MEM)|
|Malik Beasley (DEN)||Shabazz Napier (DEN, WAS)|
|Juancho Hernangomez (DEN)||Noah Vonleh (DEN)|
|Jarred Vanderbilt (DEN)||Keita Bates-Diop (DEN)|
|Evan Turner (ATL)||Gorgui Dieng (MEM)|
|James Johnson (MIA, MEM)||2021 Protected FRP (GSW)|
|Brooklyn 2020 FRP (ATL)||2021 SRP (GSW)|
With those moves, it was unlikely that a move for D’Angelo Russell would materialize. The only viable option would be to include Andrew Wiggins in a deal, which is exactly what happened.
Minnesota paired the longtime forward with a protected pick and a second rounder for Russell, Jacob Evans and Omari Spellman. They got who they’ve been looking for since free agency.
The first thing I thought about were the cap implications.
The Timberwolves will have seven guaranteed contracts on the books next season: Karl Anthony-Towns, D’Angelo Russell, Jarrett Culver, Jake Layman, Josh Okogie, Jacob Evans, and Omari Spellman. James Johnson has a player option for 16 million, which he will probably take. This leaves them with 13 million to fill out the roster in free agency.
What my main takeaway is barring a trade, the team as currently constructed does not have a lot of ways it can change.
The team doesn’t have a contract between seven and 30 million dollars, signalling to me that they want the new arrivals to supplement KAT and the other big acquisition, DLO. Having another talented player beside an overlooked centre like Towns should help even out the production for the team.
It’ll take time for the new players to get acclimated but hopefully this approach leads to a much-needed successful era of Timberwolves basketball.