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The Timberwolves Have Two Winning Paths in Front of Them

The Road Not Taken, by Cooper Carlson.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Philadelphia 76ers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Timberwolves have had a confusing, yet intriguing offseason so far. It all started with the hopes and dreams of trading for someone like Ben Simmons, John Collins, or Myles Turner but those dreams seem to be dead for now. Instead they’ve swapped Ricky Rubio, Juancho Hernangomez, and Jarrett Culver for Patrick Beverley and Taurean Prince. So far the team has taken more of a “run it back” approach which has it’s pros and cons but I still believe they are ready to shift for Ben Simmons at any moment if something works.

This leaves Minnesota with two available paths for this season, both of which can be successful. The first path is keeping the current team together with the core of Towns, Russell, Edwards, and McDaniels paired with solid complimentary pieces like Beasley, Prince, and Beverley among others. Let Chris Finch get a full offseason and camp with these guys.

The second path, and one that is both unlikely and ready to happen at any moment, is sending those complimentary pieces out for Ben Simmons. The Simmons situation is like waiting for Yellowstone to erupt — both are way overdue, so logically it should happen soon, but for some reason it just feels like it never will. That makes sense, right?

Gersson Rosas is doing a solid job of bringing in players that are both able to help the Wolves win this season and also could be appealing in a big trade.

Known optimist Kyle Theige hasn’t given up on the idea of Ben Simmons in Minnesota and neither should you. The difference I see now with the Simmons trade possibility from the beginning of the offseason is that the move doesn’t make or break the offseason. It used to seem, at least from my point of view, that this Wolves offseason being successful depended on trading for another star player. Because I’m weird and likely delusional, I think this current Wolves team is already a playoff team. Simmons turns them into a top six team in the west.

If the 76ers end up sending Ben Simmons to Minnesota it will be because they’re desperate or they got a star from a third team in the trade. They’re not getting the star they want from the Wolves. The one constant from the Wolves side in these two paths is that the big three of Towns, Edwards, and Russell stay together. The Sixers obviously want Towns or Edwards for Simmons but they’re untouchable. If it came down to it, I think the Wolves would trade Russell but all reports are that Philadelphia doesn’t want him.

Letting the dust settle before we judge this Timberwolves offseason is probably best. The Wolves are quietly bringing in positive assets like Beverley while ditching negative assets like Hernangomez and Culver. Patrick Beverley is much more appealing on this Wolves team than Culver and Hernangomez. Beverley is also much more appealing to the 76ers in a Ben Simmons trade than Culver and Hernangomez ever were.

The Rubio trade freed up cap space and then the Beverley trade replaced negative assets with a positive one while replacing the Rubio role both on the court and in trade talks. Beverley is also a better fit for both the Wolves and the 76ers than Rubio was. Better player? Maybe not, but definitely a better fit.

In the end, the path the Wolves go down might ultimately choose itself. So far it’s been mainly path one, bringing in solid role players to help your three young stars carry this team. They’re choosing this path because they don’t have a choice. Until Ben Simmons is traded, the Timberwolves will be involved. They’re doing a fine job of hedging by adding players that will help this team that can also be flipped at any moment.

Maybe I’m giving this organization, the same organization that has been a failure for most of my life, too much credit. Maybe they don’t have a plan and are just kind of piecing together a puzzle with pieces that will never connect. For now, I’m going to trust that this is the offseason Rosas has been building towards and things are at least sort of going according to plan.

Shameless plug, I recently discussed the idea of turning the Beverley trade into a Simmons trade with fellow Canis writer Brendan Hedtke on my YouTube channel.