The big story around the league today is of course Anthony Davis’ trade request and announcement that he will not re-sign with the Pelicans. Davis can reach free agency in the summer of 2020, so the Pels don’t have to trade him right now, but probably need to do so by the summer. It’s a huge disappointment for the Pels, of course, who failed to successfully build around Davis and are now facing starting over.
While the Wolves obviously will not be in the mix for Davis, a couple of Wolves related thoughts occur to me:
- It might be in the Pels best interest to start trading everyone they can in an attempt to a) lose as much as possible this year and b) get back whatever they can for future iterations. They don’t have too many guys of interest that aren’t expiring, but would you trade something for E’twaun Moore, who has one more year on his deal? Say, Tolliver and Jones? Maybe not for either team. Bayless and multiple seconds? Pels could probably do better.
- More importantly, what’s the lesson here for the Wolves? Obviously, they’ve been through it before with stars who asked out because the team was not successful, but as we embark on Karl-Anthony Towns’ second contract, how do the Wolves avoid the same fate?
The Pels made some poor choices along the way—notably spending resources on lumbering centers (Omer Asik, Alexis Ajinca, Boogie Cousins though that was a lot of bad luck,) mis-evaluating and overpaying wing talent (Solomon Hill,) and not taking advantage of the draft (they’ve had one first round pick in the last four years, and Buddy Hield was traded in the Cousins deal.)
On the one hand, spending heavily on veterans—both in money and trade assets—is not an answer; the kinds of vets available to the Wolves are not going to move the needle. They made their big play for a star in Jimmy Butler, and it didn’t work out. On the other, they can’t passively wait around forever, or they will find themselves the recipient of a trade request in a few years.
Meanwhile, I’m writing this before the Clippers-Hawks game on Monday night, but assuming the Clips win, they will join the Jazz and Spurs at 29-22, the 6th-8th teams in the West. It’s getting less and less likely that they Wolves will be able to get back into playoff position this season. However, I don’t expect them to pull the plug on any veterans before the trade deadline, because I don’t think Glen Taylor is ready to do that, and because I doubt Scott Layden has a totally free hand.
The Wolves have three games before deadline: Home to the Grizzlies, home to the Nuggets, and at the Grizzlies. I’d be very surprised if they do anything, mostly because I don’t think they’ve decided what they are this season.