DraftExpress recently had a little rumor stating that the Wolves are looking at trading up into the 1st round, probably with their two 2nd rounders (31 and 34). Looking for more young talent now, as opposed to in the years ahead is a double-edged sword. It'd be great for long-term chemistry to get some prospects now that can grow alongside the current core of youth. However, if youth now comes at the cost of future picks, they run the risk of missing out on something better down the road.
If they do look to acquire an extra 1st rounder (or two) without trading the 3rd pick, who can the Wolves approach? Although there's likely a good deal of disagreement about the Wolves' tradeable assets, I'm working with the following list: Rashad McCants, Antoine Walker and Greg Buckner, this year's 31 and 34 picks and future 1st rounders owed to Minnesota by Miami and Boston.
Chicago (1, 39) Minnesota simply doesn't have the pieces to move up to #1 without letting go of #3.
Miami (2, 52) Ditto.
Seattle (4, 24, 32, 46, 50, 56) Since the Sonics already have four 2nd round picks, our 31 and 34 aren't an enticing return for 24. However, the Sonics do need help at shooting guard. Even if they take a guard at 4 (all signs point to Bayless at this point) they may be interested in Rashad McCants. From the Wolves side, though, I doubt 24 is enough to net Shad. If they're willing to part with a young frontcourt player (Collison, Sene, Petro), there might be mutual interest.
Memphis (5, 28) The biggest reason for teams to trade from the 1st round to the 2nd is money (see Phoenix below here, here and here). While Memphis has had all sorts of issues with ownership spending (see Gasol, Pau) they don't seem a candidate for trading a 1st for two 2nds. While it'd be great to pry 5 from their hands, there's no perfect match given the Wolves' assets.
I think our best offer would be Shad, Toine, our 2nds and both Miami and Boston's future 1sts for 5, Cardinal and Mike Miller (to be flipped elsewhere to get more value for Memphis). But I'd Memphis could get a better deal elsewhere.
New York (6) This would be a great pick to target for a guy like Gallinari, Love or Lopez (if they're not taken at 3 a lot). New York has salary cap problems that could be helped by Toine and Buckner, but I get the sense that Donnie Walsh and Mike D'Antoni are more interested in accumulating talent on their roster. Moreover, the current deal that's floating out there with Philly (Randolph, 6 for 16, salary filler) would be more appealing than an offer from the Wolves.
LA Clippers (7) The Clippers definitely have some dead salary-weight (Mobley and Thomas) that the Wolves could over to take off of Scrooge McSterling's plate. But their needs in the backcourt would be better addressed by a guy like Eric Gordon at this pick than a guy like Shad via trade.
A deal of 7, Mobley and Thomas for Walker, Buckner and McCants would save the Clipps $10 million when all is said and done. In this loud-mouth's opinion, $10 million and dealing with Mobley and Thomas for 2 more years would be worth the 7th pick. But, is that enough for LA? Would they require Miami's pick or our 2nd rounders?
Milwaukee (8, 37) The Bucks are a team that could go either way this season: do they try to acquire more veteran talent to make a playoff run next year, or do they continue accumulating youth to add to Yi and Bogut? With a new GM in John Hammond and no transactions (other than firing Krystowiak) in his tenure, there's no telling what direction he's headed.
If the Bucks are looking to shed Bobby Simmons' or Dan Gadzuric's salaries, the Wolves may be able to oblige. Walker and Buckner together in exchange for Simmons and Gadz would save the Bucks $26 million. That, of course, means the Wolves would be taking on $26 million; that's a big matzah ball and would kill the Wolves' cap space. While Gadz is overpaid, he fills a need in the Wolves' frontcourt. Simmons is owed $20 million over the next two seasons, but is arguably more overpaid than Gadz. The Bucks would likely ask for one or both of Boston and Miami's picks. Depending on who's still available at 8, it may be something the Wolves could consider.
Charlotte (9, 38) Of course the reflex is to dangle Shad to the Bobcats. But, with Jason Richardson firmly planted at the 2-spot, I doubt they'd have much interest in McCants. They don't seem to have much salary to shed, unless they want to undo the Nazr Mohammed mistake. The deal with the most financial sense appears to involve Mohammed for Buckner and McCants, but that's not going to be enough to pry the 9 away from Charlotte.
New Jersey (10, 21, 40) The Nets are known to be looking at moves, but I think they're looking for star power in return or a much higher pick than they have. They also don't really have contracts they need to unload, so our expiring contracts probably won't have much value to New Jersey.
Indiana (11, 41) Larry Bird has a lot of work to do with this roster. It's a mishmash of overpaid veterans, young talent, and the Jermaine O'Neal predicament. I don't see them doing a deal until they figure out what they're doing with O'Neal, nor do I see the Wolves as a potential suitor for O'Neal. I'm sure they'd be happy to rid themselves of Jamaal Tinsley or Troy Murphy's contracts, though. While I'd want no part of Tinsley if I were McHale, a Walker for Murphy and 11 works salary-wise. It also means killing cap space and taking on $24 million for the Wolves. While Murphy's size would be helpful, and his perimeter game matches Al on offense, Murphy wouldn't be a very good long-term investment for the Wolves.
Sacramento (12, 42, 43) Geoff Petrie would probably love to dump Kenny Thomas and/or Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Neither would have very good value to the Wolves, but if it netted them the 12 pick, they'd have to think about it. Swapping Thomas for Walker works straight up, with the Wolves taking on almost $9 million the year after next. If they threw in a future 1st, that might get the Kings listening.
Portland (13, 33, 36, 55) Portland is not likely interested in more 2nd round picks. Moreover, they're going to be looking to package a bunch of their assets to consolidate talent. That doesn't really fit what the Wolves have to offer.
Golden State (14, 49) Mullin is reportedly targeting Yi via trade with this pick, but I doubt the Bucks would bite; they seem pretty happy with the Yi/Bogut duo.
Phoenix (15, 48) Phoenix is always a candidate to trade out of the 1st round (see the links above) and they might be interested in putting off their pick by taking Miami's future 1st.
Philadelphia (16) As I mentioned above for New York, Philly's looking at a swap already. I've also read a lot of Wolves fans posting to message boards that they'd like to take Dalembert off the Sixers' hands for Toine's contract, and get a pick back. With Philly's unexpected playoff success, though, I don't see them trading core players.
Toronto (17) Bryan Colangelo has a point guard mess to sort out, and I assume that will be his first priority. They don't have any salary problems we could solve and they've already got shooters, so McCants may not be too valuable to them.
Washington (18, 47) The Wiz have two stars to re-sign this offseason, and may be interested in dropping out of the 1st round to save money. They may be interested in moving Etan Thomas's contract, especially given that his heart condition makes you wonder if he'll ever play again. Shad and Buckner would match salaries with Thomas, but with DeShawn Stevenson and Nick Young, McCants would not fill a need in Washington.
Cleveland (19) Shad's shooting and slashing would be valuable to the Cavs' offense, but the perimeter prospects likely to be available here will probably be more attractive to Cleveland. Their bad contracts are almost all expiring after next year, so we can't offer them much salary cap relief either.
Denver (20) Ty Lawson is widely pegged at this spot as a much needed point guard of the future. That's a pretty good fit, so they might not be interested in moving this pick. While Steven Hunter would be a decent stop-gap center for Minnesota, Shad wouldn't get it done salary-wise, nor does he fill a need for the Nuggets.
Orlando (22) The Magic should be in the market for a shooting guard (unless they start playing JJ Redick), but next to Jameer Nelson, Shad would put their backcourt at a serious size disadvantage. They don't really have any salaries to dump either. But, if they were interested in moving down to our 2nd rounders, a Redick, 22 for McCants, 31, 34 would work financially. Not sure they'd see McCants as that much more valuable than Redick, though.
Utah (23, 44, 53) Another team with enough 2nds to not have interest in ours. Their salary situation doesn't require Toine's contract either.
Houston (25, 54) Rockets GM Daryl Morey recently said they'd be looking to improve via trade, but the Wolves don't really have a talented veteran that could help a contender.
San Antonio (26, 45, 57) Although it'd be great for Minnesota to swap 31 and 34 for 26, the Spurs already hold two 2nd rounders and would therefore not likely be interested.
New Orleans (27) New Orleans should be looking for bench depth this offseason, and Rashad McCants might be a perfect option. A straight-up swap of 27 for Shad obviously wouldn't be enough for Minny, but adding a guy like Hilton Armstrong, or throwing Jaric into the equation would sure sweeten the deal. The Hornets don't really have the contracts to take back Jaric, but an Armstrong, 27 for McCants may end up being the best deal the Wolves can find straight up for Shad. If they're interested in moving him at all, of course.
Detroit (29, 59) Detroit is rumored to be looking to move up themselves, given the expected roster shake-up. Already holding 31, though, limits the value of this pick to the Wolves significantly.
Boston (30, 60) Ditto the Pistons; trading up one spot doesn't make a whole lot of sense.