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.

The Celtics Plan Without Rajon Rondo

This isn’t the kind of injury that you can replace with a game-manager or fill in/expiring contract to replace a starter. This is Rajon Rondo we are talking about. Rondo probably means more to his team than a lot of other stars mean to theirs. Knowing this, it’s going to take someone special to replace Rondo in the short term, and even then the replacement probably won’t be up to Rondo’s par.

Not many players even have the potential to be on Rondo’s level. This trade I’m going to throw out there might fix the Celtics’ problems short term and long term. Let me explain.

(It’s a four-team trade, so you’re excused if it’s confusing. It’s making my head hurt,and I haven’t even written it yet.)

 

Boston acquires Tyreke Evans from Sacramento and Steve Blake from the Lakers.

Sacramento acquires Courtney Lee and Fab Melo from Boston. Devin Ebanks and Jodie Meeks from LA and Omri Casspi from Cleveland.

Los Angeles acquires Leandro Barbosa and Chris Wilcox from Boston and Tyler Honeycutt from Sacramento.

Cleveland acquires Francisco Garcia from Sacramento and a future second-round pick from Boston and LA.

 

Now we get to the explaining part.

First off is Boston. The Celtics get two point guards to at least do a half-decent job of filling in for Rondo. Obviously no one is going to replace Rondo, but Evans has the potential to be very good. Blake is one of the more consistent backup point guards in the league.

Boston also gets help long term. Not only would Boston have the option to re-sign Evans before anyone else does in free agency (that’s a huge stretch, but the Celtics would have the option,) but if they feel Evans doesn’t work, then they can let him walk and save the money that they owe long term to Lee. Blake gives them value this year, but also next year as a more-than-appealing expiring contract in a trade.

Sacramento. I have a little trouble with this if I’m the Kings Sonics. And the only problem I have is with Lee, more specifically, Lee’s contract. That is a lot of money long term for a starter-on-a-bad-team-bench-guy-on-a-good-team player. Sacramento Seattle gets another look at Casspi, plus Melo, a high upside big. Meeks’ contract is very team friendly in terms of what he can do. Ebanks is another guy on an expiring deal who could pan out given the chance. Sacramento gets rid of Garcia’s and Honeycutt’s contracts going forward.

The Lakers would love this trade if they made it. The one upside of Blake’s recent injury is the emergence of Duhon as more than just a trade throw in. That and the ever looming Darius Morris make Blake expendable. He’s even more expendable due to the fact that LA wants to save money. Dealing Blake would do that. LA also gets a Barbosa-Nash-D’Antoni reunion. (Side note, how many Phoenix fans envisioned that within five years of each leaving the Suns? The answer is one. That one guy who wants to rebuild and trade away anyone who isn’t 22 with big potential. We’ve all met them.) LA also gets more big-man insurance with Wilcox. Plus the fact that (and I’m no salary cap aficionado) Honeycutt’s contract might be non-guaranteed. Thus the team waves him, or buys him out, keeps a roster spot and saves enough money to buy the whole team lunch for a month or two.

Cleveland gets picks going forward, but also gets an interesting piece in Garcia. Yes, he costs them an extra four million, but has the potential to, like Blake, be a very appealing option as an expiring contract next year in terms of trade value.

I think the smartest thing for Boston to do is to go get Evans. You obviously aren’t going to finish with the best record in the conference, but maybe Evans finally figures it out under the tutelage of Doc Rivers, KG, Paul Pierce and a hobbling Rondo. Maybe Evans stays long term and plays well alongside Rondo in the future. Those “maybes” might turn into something better than a regular season conference title.