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Portland Trail Blazers v Denver Nuggets

State of the Franchise: CHAOS

The Canis team is back, this time to discuss what exactly happened late Tuesday night.

Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Those are the famous words of one Mike Tyson, and while they were originally crafted to discuss the mentality of a fighter, they also clearly apply to the world of sports blogging.

For the third installment of our “State of the Franchise” series, we had planned on discussing which players on short-term deals we would like to stick around long-term (you know, like Shabazz Napier, Jordan Bell, and/or Keita Bates-Diop).

Well, as you’re aware by now, all of those players no longer reside in Minnesota, which means it’s time for a new topic. Luckily for the blogging community, the Minnesota Timberwolves just elevated their franchise (and fan base) into chaos, so with new meat on the #khantent bone, there’s no better time than now to dig in.

Q: What was your take on the multi-team, multi-player trade late Tuesday night that saw the Wolves turn over almost half of their roster?

Mike O’Hagan: Well, as it was happening it was mostly “huh?” because it seemed like a new player was getting traded every minute. My initial reaction, after looking at the remaining roster, wasn’t very positive.

I’d like to think that the first-rounder from Atlanta (Brooklyn’s lottery-protected 2020 first) was thrown our way to take on Evan Turner. Maybe that isn’t how the thought process worked, but that’s how I viewed that. It’s nice to pick up another pick, but a mid-first in a poor draft isn’t going to get me excited. Either way, I love Robert Covington and I feel like they should have been able to get more for him than they did.

I’d also say that I’m a fan of the players they got from Denver. Malik Beasley will immediately be the best non-feline shooter on the team, and Juancho Hernangomez will have the opportunity to prove himself as a passable stretch-4 in this system. Jarred Vanderbilt is someone who might play well next to Karl-Anthony Towns, as he’s a monster on the glass. They’re a fine return, it’s just not necessarily what I was hoping for in the Robert Covington package.

The other thing to consider is that they may not be done quite yet. In fact, for most of the teams involved, this felt like a precursor to other moves. Houston likely looks for a buyout big man (hello, Tristan Thompson). Denver is likely looking to package some of this for a consolidation upgrade. Of course, we expect that Minnesota is looking for a ball-handler.

That, for me, really just makes the grade for this one incomplete. There are two open roster spots right now, and none of the Denver players are guaranteed to be on the roster next season. If the roster stays exactly as is, this is probably not a good trade, in my opinion. This one figures to be made more clear as subsequent moves are made.

Josh Clement: I’m not sure the Wolves are going to be able to field a full NBA team tonight, as the team’s massive overhaul turned over a majority of the roster. With Covington, KBD, Bell, Napier, and Vonleh gone, the Wolves have lost two starters, the back end of the frontcourt, and the most promising swingman on the roster.

Before tonight, I’m not sure the Wolves latter part of the roster had any value beyond 7th or 8th roster spots. That can be a good thing, as those players can be valuable, but not so much when you have nine of them on your team.

Now, those players have been flipped for Evan Turner, Malik Beasley, and Juancho Hernangomez. It is hard to imagine Turner long for the Wolves, but he is at least an NBA player for the rest of the season. Beasley is the “prize” who may turn out to be a real rotation player. It is hard to evaluate exactly how good Beasley and Hernangomez can be simply due to limited knowledge, but they also both suffered from the depth of the Nuggets and were falling out of the rotation with upcoming restricted free agencies.

I hope this turns out to be a good bet. Trading for soon-to-be restricted free agents has traditionally been the thing that “smart” front offices do. Most of the time, their value is artificially depressed due to the restricted free agent status and team’s unwillingness to lock-up their cap space while the other team decides whether to match the offer. It is unclear what that will mean in this free agent market, with so few teams with cap space but also few available free agents.

Barring another move, the Wolves are actively worse, but at least they are different. The one major asset in Covington is gone and the future is somehow even more muddled. It seems likely that a clear picture will not emerge until the start of the 2020-2021 season, so we might as well prepare for the depths of a murky tankathon.

Kyle Theige: First, let me just quickly state that I had a poetic little write-up about my respect and admiration for Shabazz Napier, and with him moving back a timezone, I am filled with all of the sad emojis.

With that said, my initial thoughts on this blockbuster trade are mainly this — my favorite basketball franchise has posted one winning season since 2005, so why the hell not? What does this franchise stand to lose at this point by taking big swings (even if the result so far is fairly big misses). Karl-Anthony Towns? I love the skills and abilities of that unicorn just like the next fan, and while most of the franchise’s recent ineptness isn’t directly on Karl’s shoulders, it’s also a factual statement that he has failed to win a professional basketball game in his last 69 days (nice?)

At the end of the day, I really do believe Gersson Rosas, Sachin Gupta, and the Wolves front office are playing chess. I do. But here’s the problem — I have no idea how to play chess, and neither do most of the people in my friendship circle (or they are lying to themselves about their mastery of such board game). We have no real idea if any of this will actually result in a brighter tomorrow, but on the same note, a lot of yesterday’s have been f****** miserable.

So go ahead — rip the band-aid all the way off. The Wolves community as a whole (including a few bloggers who are just one or two opinion tweets away from qualifying for a new post!) have stuck together for years now, and all they have to show for it is one lousy playoff win. Does losing players you felt a legit connection to (Robert Covington, Tyus Jones, etc.) suck? Hell yeah. But you know what else sucks? Watching your favorite team string together two extraordinary double-digit losing streaks before the 50-game mark. That type of losing REALLY sucks, and if this is finally the first step in stopping that bleeding for good, then sign me up.

Jake Paynting: Well this question changed a ton, didn’t it?

No longer are we talking about guys like Shabazz Napier (who I thought they would have done well to keep), Jordan Bell, Noah Vonleh or Keita Bates-Diop. Instead, new faces like Juancho Hernangomez, Malik Beasley, Evan Turner, and Allen Crabbe are the short-term guys.

It’s hard to tell at the moment, but of those four fresh faces, Beasley might be the only one who has a future on this team. He is a 38.3% career 3-point shooter, capable of spot-up, pull-up and on-the-move catch and shoot jumpers. He can also jump out of the gym when he is given the chance.

At the moment, he struggles defensively and isn’t really an isolation shot creator. But, at 23-years-old, Beasley has the youth and potential to develop his flaws. The problem with Beasley is he is a restricted free agent at seasons end. The Wolves will have his bird rights, making life a lot easier if they do wish to re-sign him, but if he performs well he could quickly play himself out of Minnesota’s price range.

As for the other three short-termers, there are more questions than answers surrounding them at the moment. Crabbe has historically been a great shooter but hasn’t been this season and is horrid defensively, Hernangomez flashes potential but has never put it all together, and Evan Turner’s best days seem well behind him.

For now, it’s hard to fully dissect the new guys games without a larger sample size.

John Meyer: My real-time takes can be read in this thread. It feels easier to embed my initial reaction than rehash it all.

Our old friend Sal has an excellent thread on this entire transaction from the Wolves perspective. It seems to me he has a very strong and accurate read on why Rosas and Gupta made this move.

Beasley was successful in his starts last season and could thrive as a starter in Minnesota if they give him that opportunity. Let it rip from deep! 10 treys a game, why not! The Brooklyn pick is lottery protected from 2020-2022. They can use that in other trades (D’Lo/Wiggins) as a sweetener and I assume that’s their intention. Getting two are RFAs who can shoot (Beasley and Juancho) is intriguing given how many threes they’ve bricked all season.

Here are some Canis comments that caught my attention:

Over on Denver Stiffs the pulse is that the Nuggets got worse after this trade. They’re a little confused as they see Beasley and Juancho as key pieces of their playoff team, and they’re not sure how the other guys they’re getting are any better.

This kind of trade is how Morey does it. Sign guys to cheap one year deals (like Bell or Vonleh), sniff around and opportunistically get guys like Shabazz and Graham, and then use those players to cycle through for other players. In this case, younger, higher potential guys who can shoot from distance slightly better. The cost to the Wolves, from that standpoint, is pretty low.

Losing Roco hurts. I get it. This team is not going anywhere this year. This year is all about reshuffling the pieces. They’ve gotten their look at the first try with this system, and now they’re cycling through and getting a look at the second try. They clear a ton of cash this off season, get an extra pick, all for losing RoCo.

I am hopeful Beasley and Juancho show something. That would be nice. I’d love to see them pass on DLo and go after Beal this summer instead – use some of this flexibility. They now are clearing Crabbe and Turner, which is about $36 million? Plus Juancho and Beasley. G will be an expiring next year if he isn’t moved.

Rosas and Gupta going to work.

Posted by Dr. Wolfenstein

Juancho is allegedly a mess on defense, though hustles and can hit threes. A bigger role could unlock some and some heavier minutes as the stretch 4 in Minnesota might get him back on track. It’s probably worth a look given where the season has gone.

Kevin Pelton says this:

But if Beasley gets an offer sheet similar to the extension he turned down from the Nuggets in preseason (three years, $30 million, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks), I’d walk away despite the investment of this trade.

Jarred Vanderbilt might never produce but he’s 20 so why not take a flier on him. People say he’s an elite rebounder which is big if true, since the Wolves certainly aren’t good at that. Is he good at anything else? We’ll see. He does fit my PKP formula. Shout-out to G.D. Wright for the hat tip in the comments.

As Dan Antonio succinctly put it: “Here’s hoping Beasley and Hernangomez pan out (play well enough and stick around on a tolerable contract).”

I think it’s fair to be upset by trading RoCo, though the rumors have been out there for a long time now so it’s not surprising at all. What’s the next move? That’s the big question and we’ll see how long it takes to get our answer. Was this a wise chess move or not?

Maybe this is just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. You can use that if you want. I just made that up. Nobody commented that on the site. Not Catalina or PD or PH or anyone.