The Minnesota Timberwolves made the NBA playoffs for only the second time since the 2003-04 season. Despite falling to the Memphis Grizzlies in six games, the young Timberwolves showed a ton of grit, desire and talent for the future.
The front office saw that potential and decided to add to it. They traded away a ton of their future picks to get Rudy Gobert from the Utah Jazz. Now, with Gobert and Towns in the frontcourt and a backcourt led by Anthony Edwards, the Wolves are poised to attack the postseason once again. Still, there are a few other moves left to be made.
Here are two moves the Timberwolves still must make after the first weekend of 2022 NBA free agency.
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Moves Timberwolves Must Make In 2022 NBA Offseason
Trading away D’Angelo Russell
When it comes to the Timberwolves, they are really on a timer. With the recent trade for Gobert, they have committed themselves to a core of Gobert-Towns-Edwards, with the caveat that Edwards is still on his rookie deal. Gobert and Towns, however, are both on long-term, eye-watering expensive contracts.
Gobert is set to make $38 million in the 2022-23 season, while Towns will make slightly less, at $33 million. With Edwards making just $10 million for the next two seasons, that means the Timberwolves really have two seasons to figure out a way to spend the limited cap space they have. That would include trading away D’Angelo Russell.
Now, Russell is a solid player. He just averaged 18.1 points and was an instrumental part of the Timberwolves’ run to the NBA playoffs. However, he is making $31 million this season and he is on an expiring deal.
There are three ways that the Timberwolves can do this. They can re-sign Russell to an extension, but that would, together with the inevitable maximum deal Edwards is due, eat away the cap of the Timberwolves for years to come. The Timberwolves could also look to keep him in Minnesota, playing him next season next to the core of Edwards-Gobert-Towns, but that is basically burning money. He would then leave for free and the Wolves would be left without any compensation.
Thus, the best course of action is to trade Russell for any value possible. He could be a piece to be dumped for a first-round pick, or he can be paired with some pick swaps for a star like Kyrie Irving, who would never come to the Timberwolves in free agency.
Whatever the situation ends up being, the Timberwolves must look at Russell realistically and ask themselves what they want to do. If they keep him by re-signing Russell, whatever Edwards ends up being, the Timberwolves are not winning a title with these four players as their core. If they keep him for just a year, that is throwing money out of the window.
The best and only logical course of action is to trade him away, for equal or even lesser value.
Pushing for guards
In the case that Russell ends up staying, the problem for the Timberwolves remains: They do not have capable guards on the roster. They have their starting backcourt, which is Russell and Edwards, but the cost of Gobert, outside of the picks, was losing Malik Beasley and Patrick Beverley. Most of the big-name free agent guards already signed new deals, but there are still diamonds in the rough.
Truth be told, a ton of them are restricted free agents, but the fact is that they were not resigned yet, so there is always a chance that the Wolves could pick up a good player or two.
Options that are good, but unrealistic without moving Russell, must begin with Collin Sexton. Despite falling down with a massive injury last season after just 11 games, the Cavaliers might be inclined to match any deal he signs with another team. It would be a risk, but it is clearly a risk a lot of teams with cap space are willing to take.
Dennis Schroder is another option. He was underwhelming for the Houston Rockets last season, but could be a good bench option. The issue with Schroder is that the Timberwolves need defense, rather than offense. Thus, he should not be considered by the Timberwolves in any capacity.
That leaves us with the two best options that could actually fit what the Timberwolves are after. The restricted option is Jordan Nvora. He is a rugged, defensive-minded guard that spent his first two seasons playing for the Milwaukee Bucks. They can match any offer, but if the Timberwolves were to offer the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, it would be hard for the Bucks to match it.
If they want more experience than that, the Timberwolves should go for Austin Rivers. He spent last season with the Denver Nuggets, but no one has signed him yet. Rivers is a good backup option and a player with 10 years of experience in the league, more than Edwards and Russell combined. Rivers might not be the flashiest solution, but the Timberwolves need grit rather than flash.