What: 2017 NBA Draft
Where: New York, New York
When: Coverage starts at 6pm on ESPN, first pick 7pm
It’s here. I just want to scream from excitement but also out of fear. Wolves fans have been classically conditioned to fear transactions. For many fans around these parts, it is the off-season that we live for. Armchair GM-ing as we decipher a player’s fit and value provides moments of hope in what is largely a futile activity of Wolves fandom.
One thing we know about the current regime: They play things close to the vest. Today could be full of rumors that wind up signifying nothing, and they could simply use their draft pick and move on. Or there could be a major transaction that shakes up the franchise before the night is over.
This well could be the last day of my life that I wake up, brew a pot of coffee, and daydream about a Spanish Unicorn maestro-ing a Wolves attack. And that, that spurs excitement and fear.
Ricky Rubio is squarely on the trading block as, yet again, his name is being bantered about in trade talks. The most recent rumblings, once again, grossly undervalued Rubio. Yesterday, Rubio was rumored to be Dallas bound along with the 7th overall pick for Wesley Matthews and Dallas’ 9th overall pick. That’s the fear I’m talking about.
Trading Rubio for Matthews straight up would be a mistake. Matthews is four years Rubio’s senior and this season had a worse field goal percentage, worse net rating, worse PER, worse true-shooting percentage, worse free-throw rate, three less wins shares, and was drastically worse Win Shares per 48 minutes. Throw in a swap from 7 to 9 and the Wolves are straight up being ripped off. Thankfully, those talks are now “dead.”
We assume this was never really “alive” from the Wolves point of view, and as Jon K. pointed out on twitter yesterday, all the Wolves rumors we see always have the Wolves on the losing end—because the rumors are not emanating from Mayo Clinic Square. Close to the vest.
A Rubio trade is not the only move that inspires concern, at least for some. So too does the drafting of a Finnish seven-footer by the name of Lauri. Lauri Markkanen seems to be the odds on favorite to be the Wolves selection at seven, if they keep the pick. Markkanen’s perceived value according to websites like draftexpress.com and draft experts like Chad Ford seems not to have convinced much of the Minnesota fan base. Our very own Kyle Thiege is on the record of having the Arizona product 100th on his personal draft board...
My updated #Wolves Big Board:— Kyle Theige (@kyletheige) June 21, 2017
1-99: Everyone but Markkanen
100: Lauri Markkanen
While objectively Markkanen is an elite shooter, the lack of everything else is worrisome. But yesterday he did say he grew up a Timberwolves fan, according to Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated. So there’s that.
Even if the Wolves do something we hate like making a bad Rubio trade. and/or by drafting a player we don’t love, today will still be fun from a league-wide perspective. The excitement stems from the fact that the NBA has apparently turned into a Fantasy Basketball League. D’Angelo Russell who was drafted second overall just over 700 days ago has already been traded to Brooklyn Nets, the Sixers and Celtics swapped the 1 and 3 pick, and a future Hall of Fame center that is still only 31-years-old (Dwight Howard) was traded in a salary dump that didn’t dump much salary.
But that may all simply be the appetizer for today’s main course. Kristaps Porzingis and Paul George trades are possible. In addition to those two stars, HoopsHype is a buzz with other potential trade talks; LaMarcus Aldridge (for a top-5 pick), DeAndre Jordan (for Tyson Chandler and #4), and Patrick Beverley has apparently been shopped to “half the league” in lieu of the rumors that the Houston Rockets are in full on pursuit of Chris Paul in free agency.
Also, the second-best team in the NBA fired their GM earlier this week and are apparently in talks with former Wolf Chauncey Billups to become the Cleveland Cavaliers new chief decision maker. It’s not clear who is making the decisions in Cleveland on draft night.
Other chief decision makers around the league just had what is a bit of a bomb dropped on them with the salary cap estimate lowered to $99 million. Earlier this year, that number was as high $108 million. This is a key development for any team looking to create maximum cap space to bring in a free agent such as Gordon Hayward or Blake Griffin. Particularly foiling for the Boston Celtics, but could also effect the Wolves pursuit of a similarly expensive player.
It’s actually crazy and hard to keep up with. Thank you Twitter. We’ll be on top of it all day here at Canis and on Twitter @canishoopus. Let’s talk about it all.