Ladies and gentlemen — welcome to #SmokeScreenSZN.
As we enter day 246 since the Minnesota Timberwolves last took the court in a professional NBA game, the buzz surrounding our beloved franchise has never been louder. We’ve already seen countless rumors about Gersson Rosas and the Wolves attempting to trade back from the #1 spot in the draft, and now earlier this morning came this report from The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor:
Sources: The Timberwolves are attempting to acquire a second lottery pick. They’ve had talks with the Hawks for #6. A possible deal could include Jarrett Culver and #17.— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) November 11, 2020
A number of teams are interested in Atlanta’s #6 pick—the Pelicans and Celtics being among them, sources say.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe quickly piggybacked on KOC’s reporting, adding that Jarrett Culver’s inclusion in a trade would only happen if it involved a high pick or the possibility of acquiring another star:
Wrote about Culver rumblings last week -- and my read then was that MIN would only deal him as part of a package for a star, or for a high pick that could eventually become an ingredient in a trade for a star: https://t.co/Bu4dJ9EX7M https://t.co/9S4KUFPiIN— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) November 11, 2020
There is a LOT to digest here, but before we do, let’s just quickly recap — in the span of less than a week, the Wolves have now been rumored to be looking to trade back to #3 (Charlotte), #4 (Chicago), #6 (Atlanta), and even #25 (Oklahoma City). That alone is going to make this next week/month/year/lifetime completely bananas, as Gers and his crew apparently are holding firm to their promise of looking at every single possible scenario when it comes to transactions (even the ones that seem completely unrealistic).
But back to this latest KOC reporting — why would Minnesota give up on Culver after just one year? Well, for anyone that watched Jarrett shoot last year, that’s a pretty easy answer (important clarification: I still own a condo on Culver Island, but in this economy...)
The motivation for trading Jarrett Culver, at least in part, would be financial— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) November 11, 2020
#6 -- next year salary: $5.8M, full salary: $26.4M over 4
Culver - next yr: $6.1M, full: $20.3M over 3
#17 -- next yr: $3.0M, full: $14.3M over 4
Culver + 17 for 6 creates $3.3M in space below tax
Does JC +#17 get you all the way up to #6? Also, who exactly would the Wolves be targeting at that spot? KOC (and others) have long rumored that Minnesota is highly interested in Tyrese Haliburton, but if EVERYONE in the media is thinking that then doesn’t that mean the Wolves definitely want someone else? Considering how tight to the vest this front office plays things, it wouldn’t shock me to see them zag while others think they might zig.
What about Patrick Williams? No 2020 draft prospect has seen his stock rise as much as the Florida State big, and with the latest “news” saying that his potential floor could be #7 (Detroit Pistons), then trading up a slot to #6 would make a whole lotta sense.
Also, what does this latest rumor signal about the Wolves best draft asset — the number one pick? Is the king of the NBA Trade Machine really going to flip back from #1 to #3, accumulate assets, then somehow move up again from #17 to #6? Is that even legal?
When you consider how aggressive and creative this front office is, and then add in the fact that the Timberwolves control the top of the draft, the only real “certainty” as we get closer to the draft is complete and utter uncertainty. I’d imagine you’ll be seeing a lot of the word “Timberwolves” in future tweets from guys like KOC, Woj, Shams, and Lowe as we approach next Wednesday, which could mean SOMETHING or it could mean NOTHING. That’s what #SmokeScreenSZN is all about.
Familiar Face in a Familiar Place?
Stepping away for one second from all the draft and free agency talk — our own Doogie Wolfson had a very interesting report earlier on Wednesday about a familiar name from Timberwolves past:
The best #Timberwolves addition this month may not be a draft pick or free agent. I hear there have been talks about bringing back sports science guru Arnie Kander. He was their VP of sports performance in '15, then was let go by Thibs. He's close w/ KAT & Saunders.— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) November 11, 2020
This name may only be meaningful to a handful of nerds like myself, but Kander is widely regarded as one of the absolute best trainers in the NBA, so a move like this would only solidify the complete reshaping of the Wolves front office and overall staff. As Doogie notes, Arnie is also close with both Karl-Anthony Towns and Ryan Saunders, which is never a bad thing, but was forced to move on to the Pistons a few years back after he was let go by our dear and beloved friend Tom Thibodeau.
We will continue to monitor all of the rumblings and happenings in the NBA as we approach draft night next Wednesday. In the mean time, take care, be well, and enjoy the rest of your week.