As mentioned earlier in the week, our first annual State of the Franchise series was originally designed to discuss how writers at Canis felt about the basketball team they followed and covered. It was originally designed to be a safe space to air out frustration, as the home team had rapidly descended so far into the depth of mediocrity that it felt like there was truly no coming back.
That all changed yesterday morning, when news broke of the Minnesota Timberwolves agreeing to a trade that sent Andrew Wiggins (and draft pick compensation) to the Golden State Warriors for D’Angelo Russell, Jacob Evans, and Omari Spellman.
So what better way to wrap up this series than discussing our opinion on the Wolves front office — the same front office that purged over half of the roster in less than 72 hours, unloaded the Andrew Wiggins contract, and landed a 23-year old All-Star PG.
Do you agree with the flurry of moves made by Gersson Rosas and his staff this week? Is your opinion today more optimistic than it was a week ago? What’s the next move you would like to see the franchise take going forward? We discuss below:
Q: How would you grade the new Timberwolves front office? Do you feel more or less optimistic about the future of the franchise than you did a week ago?
Mike O’Hagan: These are moves that can only receive complete grades down the road. At the moment, it feels like the Wolves had as good of a trade deadline as we could’ve ever asked for. As much as I love Robert Covington, flipping him for two first-round picks, and using one of those to acquire three young players from Denver is a shrewd move in its own right. The Gorgui Dieng for James Johnson swap feels somewhat lateral, although you could argue Johnson might fit the current style a little bit better given that he’s a 4. The team wasn’t going to play KAT and G together; maybe this opens up some room for Naz Reid. The can also see what a JJ-type player looks next to Karl for experimental purposes.
In the end, this deadline will be judged based on how well D’Angelo Russell plays. It’s still a bit difficult to believe they got the deal done. Off-loading Andrew Wiggins, a second-round pick, and a lightly protected 2021 first round for Russell feels like a massive win. I’d rather have seen them use their current 2020 draft ammo with Wiggins to get the deal done, but that’s nitpicking.
How could anyone be less optimistic than a week ago? This season was becoming really, really depressing. Now, there is hope. I fear that expectations for D’Lo will be out of control around the Twin Cities right off the bat, but he’s absolutely brought a newfound interest to the franchise, who badly needed some sort of spark. Whether that translates to success remains to be seen.
Josh Clement: I’m certainly more optimistic, considering that a week ago the Wolves were moving steadily in one direction, which would have ended with the eventual trade of Karl-Anthony Towns. It’s hard to overstate how abjectly terrible the last few months have been in Wolvesdom. Any promise for the future was snuffed out by the dejected play on the court and the dire prospects for the future. It’s incredibly disheartening to watch teams like the Memphis Grizzlies begin rebuilds and pass the Wolves in the span of a couple of years while our team continues to spin the wheels and fail.
But now, our purgatory is over — at least somewhat. We no longer have to spend another second hand-wringing over if Andrew Wiggins can ever live up to his expectations and contract. The Wolves have found their second star. Now, of course, there are qualms about the exact quality and efficiency of that second star, particularly on defense, but there was no other similarly talented player available on the market where the Wolves would not be immediately outbid. This was their shot. They took it.
Who knows what the rest of this roster will turn into by the start of next season. The months ahead are certain to be messy as the pieces slowly come together. But now the outlines of the plan have taken shape. All it took was breaking the puzzle in half.
John Meyer: I feel way more optimistic. To put it simply, there was no way in my mind, and many other minds, this franchise could take a step forward without dealing Wiggins. They had to close the book on that era. Getting a real point guard to run endless pick-and-rolls with KAT was critical and although he’s not without flaws, D’Angelo is going to give this team something they’ve been missing for a long time. I’m still on the fence about trading RoCo, though at least understand the thought process behind getting two players who fit the same timeline as Towns and Russell (Beasley and Hernangomez) and evaluating them in this system before they hit restricted free agency this summer. The Brooklyn first rounder is another asset for this aggressive front office to work with in the future.
We all hate the word patience; never tell a Wolves fan to be patient. We’ve all become terribly accustomed to dithering over the last two decades. Decisions have never been made quickly around these parts. My confidence in Rosas and Gupta and everyone else running this ship is sky-high because they looked at this roster and weren’t afraid to blow it up at the trade deadline. They didn’t wait until the offseason to get to work.
In the past, this organization would’ve tanked out the rest of the season with the same group of players, which makes this type of boldness — rapidly turning over a roster they inherited from Thibs, minus Towns and Okogie — so promising. The new front office didn’t waste any time. They made a massive move to please the franchise player instead of a blockbuster deal to please themselves (Thibs/Butler/Bulls).
Who knows if this will work or not. I respect the hell out of their aggressiveness. Shuffle in a new set of players, see who fits, and get back to work in the offseason.
I love what they’ve done.