This week's news alone has involved two quality Northwest Division rivals somewhat below the "real championship contender" level, the Nuggets and the Jazz, shipping out their franchise players for packages involving young talent. The Trailblazers, never entirely settled on Andre Miller, were rumored to be in the mix for Devis Harris; Marcus Camby also may move again. Their injury situation with Brandon Roy, meanwhile, has changed the complexion of their team this year.
Oklahoma City, having emerged from the rebuilding swamp last season, is suddenly looking like the steady hand in the Northwest division.
One direct way in which recent events will affect Minnesota has to do with Utah's pick next year, which the Wolves own with the following protections:
Utah’s own 2011 first round pick to Minnesota (top 16 protected in the 2011 draft, top 14 protected in 2012 and top 12 protected in the 2013 draft). If Utah has not conveyed a first round pick to Minnesota by 2014 and also if Utah’s own 2014 first round is not within the top 9 picks, then Minnesota will have the option to swap their own 2014 first round pick with Utah’s own 2014 first round pick. If Minnesota does not receive a first round pick by the 2013 draft and also does not swap 2014 first round picks with Utah, then Minnesota will receive Utah’s own 2014 second round pick.
Utah currently has the 8th-best record in the Western Conference. The Jazz were on a 3-game slide before the All Star Break after Jerry Sloan's abrupt departure as coach, and have now lost 4 straight. Unless one believes strongly that Devin Harris and Derrick Favors will steady the ship for the Jazz, it seems likely that Utah will take a step back to regroup.
The team behind Utah trying to patch holes (like Rudy Gay's slot while Gay is injured) for a playoff run is Memphis, whose First Rounder the Wolves also own:
Memphis' own 2011 1st round pick to Minnesota via Utah (top 14 protected in 2011, top 12 protected in 2012, top 10 protected in 2013, top 9 protected in 2014, top 9 protected in the 2015 Draft). If Minnesota does not receive a 1st round pick from Memphis by the 2015 Draft, then Minnesota will receive cash considerations from Memphis.
(same source page as above)
The other obvious influence of recent events would be on the team's fortunes in games within the division. Current Minnesota Timberwolves 2010-2011 splits:
Current Division Standings:
Where will the Wolves fit in the hierarchy of this division in two years' time? What are the top- and bottom-tier possibilities in the medium term?
Would next year's Wolves, adding Rubio and a top-tier pick in a so-so draft class, become a middle-class team in this context? Will the Clippergeddon pick be more like a #12 overall choice? In two years, could the Wolves look like Oklahoma City today?
We don't know the protections on New Jersey's draft picks in the Deron Williams deal, it's only occurred this morning, but if the Jazz were to manage a revamping of their team while Minnesota remained in the cellar... That would be the "despair" end of the spectrum, would it not?