NBA Trade Deadline Losers: Minnesota Timberwolves

Meet another one of the NBA’s most puzzling teams, the Minnesota Timberwolves!

While Denver actually moved some pieces for future assets, Minnesota did not. In fact, they dealt a younger player with the potential to bring in a somewhat sizable return (Thaddeus Young) to the Nets for Kevin Garnett.

While I like the team dealing for Garnett in terms of what he brings to the team, Young was too much of a valued commodity to ship out for an aging veteran. Granted Garnett can still contribute, plus, he’ll fill seats and will be a mentor to Minnesota’s young players. Still, Young was too much of an asset to give up for KG.

That wasn’t Minnesota’s only trade activity this season, they also traded Mo Williams and Troy Daniels to Charlotte for Gary Neal and a second-round pick in 2019. While dealing Williams was the right move, dealing him and a young player for Neal and a second-round pick in four years is puzzling. Neal is on an expiring contract and is still with the team, meaning they didn’t trade him for more assets.

Including Neal, here is a list of veteran players Minnesota should have traded, but didn’t.

  • Nikola Pekovic,
  • Kevin Martin
  • Chase Budinger
  • Neal

You could also make the case for Ricky Rubio being dealt, but at only 24-years-old, he may yet be part of the Timberwolves next contending team (while still in his prime).

The fact of the matter is that the Wolves need to create more minutes for their younger players. This means guys like Zach LaVine, Adreian Payne, Anthony Bennett, Glenn Robinson III and Gorgui Dieng should all be playing a high number of minutes similar to Andrew Wiggins. However, with players like Pekovic, Martin, Budinger and Neal on the roster, it becomes difficult. The easiest way to give the youngsters more minutes is to simply take the veterans off the roster. The T-Wolves should have done this at the deadline. If they did, maybe they would have gotten some decent returns to help build for the future and hoard even more assets.

Considering Aaron Afflalo and Isaiah Thomas both fetched first-round picks for their old clubs, one would think Kevin Martin could have received a similar return. Pekovic’s contract probably scared some teams away, but at 29-years-old, he’s a dependable center who can score and rebound. Budinger and Neal could have provided interested teams with wing depth and experience.

Minnesota needs to give more minutes to younger players, while stockpiling assets for the future. This is the easiest path towards evolving into a legitimate contender. The only thing standing in the way of both of those objectives? Dealing veteran players. The Timberwolves should have, but simply didn’t do this, making them one of the “losers” of the trade deadline.

Check out the rest of Know Hitter’s series on the NBA Trade Deadline Winners and Losers. The Winners: BostonDetroitMiamiPhiladelphia and Milwaukee. The “Losers”: Los Angeles (Lakers)Phoenix , Denver and Minnesota.

Love is Gone: How the Timberwolves Stay Afloat Without Kevin Love

(Side note, I thought about starting to call Kevin Love “The Klove,” which by the way makes no sense after I found out that it’s an adult contemporary Christian music radio programming service. Yes, that’s right, I actually took the time out of my day to Google “klove.” Laugh it up readers, laugh it up.)

The Timberwolves run on Love. Not to say that they are a gushy team or anything, but you catch my drift. Minnesota stands on four legs. One leg, and the one holding up most of the weight, is Love. Another is Nikola Pekovic, a third is Andrei Kirilenko and a fourth, albeit in a limited role this year due to injury, is Ricky Rubio.

With Kevin Love, Minnesota is a low-seed playoff contender. Without him they are definitely on the wrong side of the number eight seed.

Just to reiterate, Minnesota was 26-40 last year. The worst record in the conference belonged to the Hornets at 21-45. Kevin Love had a win share of 10 last year. Jumble that all together and throw in some math signs + = / to make it look super educated and you get 16. 16 wins the T-Wolves would have had without their sole Olympian and biggest player since Kevin Garnett (sorry Mark Madsen.)

Granted that was last year, and this year is a whole different animal in terms of the season, but the T-Wolves are still in trouble. Kirilenko has carried the team so far, but I have serious reservations about whether he can carry a team for the 8-10 weeks that Love will be out. Let me rephrase that, he can carry a team, but can Minnesota stay competitive if he’s the “Atlas” of the team? Probably not.

The team needs something new. Whether that be a trade acquisition, like say shipping Kirilenko, Derrick Williams and Luke Ridnour to Memphis for Rudy Gay. Or getting injured players healthy, and in the lineup again like Rubio and Chase Budinger.

At the end of the day, the Timberwolves aren’t going to be as good as they were with Love. It’s just not going to work. The team is built around “Klove” (that might be the last time you see that on the internet ever.)

What do you think? Will Minnesota be able to stay in contention with Kevin Love, or will they fall out of it without him and never recover? Tell me in the comments section.