Both Chris Sheridan and Marc Stein dedicated some Four-Letter.com space to trade rumors this weekend. There have already been 5 noteworthy trades since the season started and the first day that this summer's free agents can be traded is rapidly approaching (December 15). By Sheridan's count, 90 players will become tradeable (not that they're all on the block, of course).
As far as the Wolves' candidates for trade, two names are most popular so far: Rashad McCants and Mike Miller. The problem with trading either of them is that their value is about as low as it can get right now.
Shad seems to be getting much more free reign under Kevin McHale than he did under Randy Wittman. Given his talents as an explosive scorer who has the ability get his own shot and as a slasher on a team lacking slashers, this new lease on life is theoretically a good thing for Shad. Unfortunately, McCants' scoring under Wittman vs. McHale looks like this:
More minutes, more starts, more shots, fewer points, worse percentages. I'll spare him the advanced stats, but suffice to say that the Loved and Hated one isn't helping the team win games, isn't upping his trade value and isn't endearing himself to fans.
The most commonly speculated destination for McCants is Charlotte, given his UNC roots and the Bobcats' apparent willingness to deal this year. But the thing that shuts down this possibility is that the Bobcats' moves are all geared toward getting Larry Brown-type guys that, ya know, "play the right way." Is there anyone who really thinks Larry Brown wouldn't bench McCants after even one of the performances he's put up under McHale?
As far as another team wanting McCants, given his performance and perceived poor attitude, I can't imagine the Wolves would be able to get anything close to what they'd consider eqaul value for him.
The possibility of trading Mike Miller at the moment seems similar. Yes, he's just coming back from a nasty-looking ankle injury, but Miller is having his worst season (statistically) since 03-04. Mike's got a lot more trade value than McCants (Memphis held onto him the last few years despite a million inquiries from a variety of teams), but his trade value has to be close to an all-time low right now.
But regardless of Miller's value around the league, I don't think the Wolves have much to gain by trading him. We've got plenty of picks, plenty of youngsters with ceilings to reach and our cap situation is in great shape. Yes, you can never have too many picks, we could always use better prospects, and sneaking into 2009 free agency might be nice, but a couple factors supersede all that in my mind.
One is the fan factor. Miller's South Dakota roots have value to the Timberwolves given the range of their market. Selling merch, advertising and maybe the occasional ticket to a group of our Western neighbors, is nothing to scoff at for a team with an anemic fanbase in a terrible economy.
Then there's the fact that fans are understandably wary of this team's trades. If the Wolves unload the piece of the Love trade they used to try and convince fans it was worthwhile to give up Mayo (i.e. Mike Miller), they'll have the same problem of perception they would if they traded Al Jefferson (for the record, I'm still in the pro-Love trade camp and wouldn't be opposed to trading Al for the right package).
The other factor to consider is that Miller's performance-to-contract ratio is very good. Despite the slump he's in, Miller's skills and the likelihood that he'll revert back toward his career numbers are well worth the $19 million coming his way this season and next.
This is getting long, so I'll wrap it up with a parting thought: it's not panic time for this team. The Wolves have been shuffling their roster a lot in the last few years. They're bad, we know they're bad and it will take some time for them to get better. There are pieces on this team that don't fit together, and that's certainly reason enough to keep making moves, but dumping players while their value is so low is not something that will help make things better.