Change begets change. The Wolves front office has been turned over since the Thibodeau era (excluding Scott Layden) and we have all been waiting for the draft to see how the new folks would begin making their mark with this discombobulated roster.
One of the more interesting things leading up to the draft was the reported activity of Rosas and crew in shopping around, testing the assets in an apparent effort to move up. The quotes from the front office seemed to suggest a fairly expected path. Point guard is a position of need, they believe in Andrew Wiggins and see a lot of potential with this roster, and there is an urgency to put the right pieces around Karl-Anthony Towns.
We were curious bystanders. The Wolves have been linked all over the place; moving up in the draft, shopping players, and as potential landing spots for marquee free agents such as D’Angelo Russell and Tobias Harris. Looking at this roster, it has been hard to make sense of what is truly possible. The Wolves have few positive assets, massive contracts they would like to unload, and no certainty around the roster outside of Towns and maybe Robert Covington.
Is there a ton of cap space available this summer for teams to take on huge contracts? Sure. Would any of them consider Jeff Teague or Andrew Wiggins? No idea. It was hard not to simply sit back and let the professionals run the show.
But now, we have a bit more information and what we have is confusing and contradictory. The Wolves made their big splash by trading Dario Saric and the 11th pick to Phoenix for the 6th pick. A day later, this seems simple enough to evaluate. Saric was reportedly unhappy with the Wolves and is due for a big payday next year. Restricted free agents typically have a depressed trade market, so if the Wolves believed they were getting a bonafide star with the 6th pick, then it is a fair value to move up. Sure the team now has a glaring hole at power forward, but serviceable stretch bigs are cheap and available.
However, that narrative brushes over all the maybes from the evening. Did the Wolves really offer Covington and #11 for the Pelicans’ #4 pick and New Orleans turn them down? Or did Pelicans insist on including Solomon Hill and the Wolves turned them down. We saw reports going both ways (although funnily enough, today all the reports say it was the Wolves saying no).
Did the Wolves have Jarrett Culver and Darius Garland in the same tier and were happy to take either at #6? Or did they misread Cleveland’s desires, look for a panic trade-out after trading up, and then decide to settle for Culver when nothing materialized? Hard to tell, but everyone will confirm the former story rather than the latter.
Of course, this is where the appeal to authority comes in. Who are we to suggest that the front office simply had one real prospect with the 6th pick when they have been prepping for this draft for a over month? After all, once Atlanta traded for the 4th pick and it became clear they were taking De’Andre Hunter, picks 1-4 were essentially locked in, ensuring the Wolves would get either Culver or Garland. If they both were rated highly by the Wolves, it looks like a great move.
And Culver is legitimately good and exciting! People seem confident in his shooting improving, which gives him a super high floor and a higher ceiling than anyone other than Towns on this roster. Perhaps this is just step one, which is what Rosas is saying, and the Wolves have a magical cap clearing move all lined up, allowing them to chase Russell for Malcolm Brogdon.
We really have no idea, which I believe speaks to how we are going to have to get used to how the new front office utilizes the media to obfuscate their intentions and paint over the results. Rather than a veil of secrecy, the New Wolves Order uses a strategy of information overload.
Think the Wolves were selling too low on Covington as one of the best contracts in the league for the 4th pick? Well, actually the Wolves were just testing out the waters and trying to move up to get a player they think is a star. Concerned that Woj reported the Wolves shopping the 6th pick right after Cleveland surprisingly drafted Garland? Well, actually the Wolves were just making sure there was not an offer out there they couldn’t refuse, even if it meant giving up a player they thought was going to be a star.
Confused about why the Wolves now have five wings with similar skill sets and no power forwards? Well, actually the Wolves really believed that Covington (who they never wanted to trade anyways) can play the four better than Saric. How does Wiggins, profiled in a very flattering light by The Athletic, fit into this roster if Culver is the new best thing? Well, actually the Wolves believe in Wiggins growing with the support of Ryan Saunders and the connection with David Vanterpool and if they trade him this summer! That was the plan all along!
There is simply no way to effectively criticize this type of front office without any idea of what the real goals are. After all, they are simply checking in on potential trades. It’s our NBA version of the trial balloon. We have always been at war with Eastasia.
Thankfully for us, this is just the NBA so none of it really matters. Thank goodness nothing important works like this!