The NBA trade deadline is nearly here, coming on Thursday at 2 pm CST. This deadline has the potential to be one of the wildest in recent memory with several big time players available.
While the Wolves are almost certainly not going to be involved in any of the potential blockbuster trades for the likes of Anthony Davis, Mike Conley or Marc Gasol, that doesn’t mean they should sit out the trade deadline entirely. There is a move to be made for every team in the NBA that will improve their current and/or future standing. The Wolves need to find a deal that accomplishes that for them.
I’d like to start off by saying that Andrew Wiggins and Gorgui Dieng were not included in this exercise. They seem to pop up in nearly every trade conversation solely because of their contract situations, but it doesn’t seem likely that Minnesota makes that big of a splash this week.
The other big disclaimer here is that we’re simply trying to evaluate what the Wolves assets are worth, and who a few potential suitors might be. Most of this is going to be done assuming that the Wolves would accept the fact that a playoff run is unlikely for this season and become sellers. As our fearless leader John Meyer wrote for Forbes, it’s unlikely that management looks at this situation the same way.
Anyways, the Timberwolves do have some assets that other teams are surely interested in due to their potential contributions and contract situations.
In my opinion, there isn’t a single team in the NBA better positioned to have a yard sale this week than the #Wolves:— Kyle Theige (@kyletheige) February 4, 2019
• Tolliver (expiring)
• Deng (expiring)
• Rose (expiring, albeit injured)
• Bayless (expiring)
• Gibson (expiring, although a HUGE locker room presence)
Our guy Kyle lays them out pretty nicely here, but lets go name by name and figure out the value of each of these guys, and where these players could end up. There’s one additional player to add to the end, so we’ll save that surprise for last.
Contract: 1-year $5.75 million
Tolliver is arguably the most attractive piece of trade bait the Timberwolves have due to the desperation for 3-and-D players in the NBA. Tolly has a long standing reputation as a great shooter, evidenced by his 37.6% career mark from three and his 38.7% mark this season. Tolliver has also developed into a more than passable defender, who is seldom out of position.
The teams looking to add Tolliver will likely be contending-ish teams who want to add his shooting ability to their lineup. The first team that comes to mind for Tolliver is the Philadelphia 76ers. Philly is incredibly top-heavy, and is always going to be starved for shooting when building around Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, and Joel Embiid. Inserting Tolliver into that starting lineup with J.J. Redick suddenly provides much more room for the Sixers triumvirate to operate.
It’s hard to imagine Philly giving up anything more than a second-round pick for Tolliver, but the Wolves wouldn’t have to take Philly’s second-rounder. Philly owns Chicago second-round pick this year, as well as whatever is more favorable between sacramento and Milwaukee. If the Wolves were able to get that Chicago pick plus salary, that would be a pretty solid haul for Tolliver.
Contract: 1-year $2.39 million (veteran’s minimum)
To keep this short and sweet, Luol Deng is probably not getting traded. He has shown that he can still play a bit recently, but it’s hard to imagine a team trading for him. The most likely scenario for Deng to get traded would be included in a larger deal as extra salary.
Contract: 1-year $2.39 million (veteran’s minimum)
It will be difficult to move Derrick Rose mostly due to his current injury issues, which don’t figure to go away anytime soon. Either way, Rose has been a productive player this year that there are surely several suitors for. There’s a multitude of teams that will be looking for a backcourt scoring punch off the bench, which is exactly what Rose is. For Rose, a situation where he’s more closely limited to 25ish minutes per night would be optimal for him.
So who may be in on Rose? Well, his market is a little bit harder to pin down. One team to potentially keep an eye on would be the Washington Wizards. In case you missed it, John Wall tore his achilles today and will be out for a full year. Washington is hell bent on making the playoffs, so maybe they’d look to add a player like Rose for a second-round pick. Otherwise, I’d look for any number of teams without a solid backup point guard. This, again, would include Philadelphia. Maybe a team like Indiana would look to add Rose’s offense for the remainder of the season with Victor Oladipo out for the year.
Contract: 1-year $9 million
A few weeks ago, I’d have said there’d be no shot that any team would be interested in Jerryd Bayless. After his recent string of play, he’s shown that he still has a bit left in the tank. His contract is a little bit much for a team that is likely looking for some cheap offense, and I’m not even sure the Wolves can afford to trade him.
Given the slew of injuries at the point guard position, the Wolves legitimately might need to keep Bayless on the roster for emergency purposes. It seems that Teague and Rose are going to be banged up for the entire season, and who knows how quickly Tyus will get back on the floor. With a value that certainly doesn’t exceed a late second-round pick, it’s highly unlikely that Bayless gets dealt.
Contract: 1-year $14 million
Outside of Tolliver, there’s probably nobody on the roster I’d like to see traded more than Gibson. This is nothing against Taj. He’s a phenomenal teammate who plays hard and does a lot of good things out on the floor. I’d like to see him traded because he could definitely be valuable to a few teams that might give up a decent amount to acquire him. Gibson’s best role after the deadline is as a reserve big for a contender, but he should flourish in that role.
Finding a suitor with their own second-round pick this year is a little tricky for Gibson, but one possible landing spot could be the Golden State Warriors. The fit I really liked was with the Oklahoma City Thunder due to how poorly Patrick Patterson has played, but the Thunder likely wouldn’t a pick available for the Timberwolves until 2021 which isn’t as desirable.
Contract: 2 years $5.37 million remaining
So, this is the surprise for today. According to HoopsHype, Saric may be available for a first-round pick and a player. This is pretty disappointing considering he was the high upside portion of the Jimmy Butler package, but Saric has had a difficult time finding his role in Minnesota. Over his last 15 games, Saric is averaging just 6 points per game on 37.6% from the field.
I really hope that Saric does not get traded because I still think he’s going to be a good player in this league. He’s in a funk right now, but it seems more likely than not that he’s going to snap out of it eventually. With that said, it seems like the Timberwolves front office is at least listening to offers. I really don’t know who an ideal suitor would be for Saric, but it would probably be somewhere where he’d get a starting spot.
In theory, Houston could make sense for Saric, but the Rockets likely don’t have a package enticing enough for Minnesota. Brooklyn could be a team to watch as well given their style of play and surprising wealth of young talent.
Trading Saric away would create a gaping hole alongside Towns in the front court moving forward. If the Timberwolves were able to get a solid player along with a first-round pick, then that’s fine. It seems unlikely, though, that Minnesota will be able to convince a player with Saric’s skill set to sign in free agency.
This promises to be a wild few days leading up to the trade deadline. Keep your eyes peeled and ready for those Woj bombs at any moment.