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Timberwolves Trade Season Primer: Trade Targets

It’s time to fire up the trade machine and talk trade targets

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Brooklyn Nets v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Yesterday, we went through what the Timberwolves general philosophy should look like as the trade deadline nears. Today, let’s take a look at what players could fit into that philosophy, with an assist from Canis Contributor Jack Borman. For the sake of everyone, we didn’t include Ben Simmons or Myles Turner as targets here, only because those two have already been discussed ad nauseam.

Potential Timberwolves Trade Deadline Targets

Atlanta Hawks v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Harrison Barden/Getty Images

John Collins — Atlanta Hawks

Mike O’Hagan: This is a bit of a pipe dream, but Collins is at worst the second-best player available at the trade deadline in my eyes. Collins is in search of a larger role, and I can’t blame him. His field goal attempts are down again, and a player with his skillset should get more than just 12 FGA/gm.

Frankly, the numbers on their own suggest that he deserves more looks. Collins is shooting 57.5% on twos and 44.5% on threes on his way to 63.4% true-shooting. At a certain point, it’s worthwhile to sacrifice a bit of efficiency for increased volume. Making a deal work financially is tricky, given that Collins is in the first year of a 5/$125M deal, but that makes him an attractive long-term piece.

As a fit in Minnesota, Collins would be fantastic. He’s a good weakside rim-protector who can move his feet. His rebounding numbers are down over the past few years, but similar to what has happed to Towns next to Vanderbilt, most of that downturn in rebounding coincides with Clint Capela being brought to Atlanta. There’s just less rebounds available.

That fits well next to Karl-Anthony Towns, and the fit on offense is even better. Collins is a freak athlete who can thrive out of a number of situations, but he’s at his best as a PnR partner. The former dunk contest participant is an elite lob-threat, but is also very clearly capable of spacing the floor.

When you see John Collins in person, he moves around the floor much more like a jumbo wing than a true 4/5. He’s one of the more fluid athletes I’ve seen at that size. It would take a lot to get him out of Atlanta, but he is worth taking a shot at.

Jack Borman: My appreciation of Collins is well-documented dating back to last year’s deadline. This time around, however, I am not getting my hopes up. Collins carries a cap hit of $23.0 million, which would require Minnesota sending out both of their key trade chips — Beasley and Prince. The expiring Prince deal would help Atlanta cut money starting next season.

You’d be looking at something along this framework, with Atlanta sending out Lou Williams — who is out of the rotation and on a one-year, $5 million contract — to keep them under the tax. Minnesota also stays under the tax here, as well, while sending out three picks that the Hawks can redirect leading up to draft night or use to infuse the roster with more rookie scale contracts. Atlanta can — and will — get a much better deal elsewhere.

This is about all Minnesota can offer. If the Wolves want to get in the mix, they’d need a three or four-team construct with Atlanta getting better on the wing while adding a potential long-term play at the 4.

Interim shot-caller and executive vice president of basketball operations Sachin Gupta said in an interview with our good friend Chris Hine of the Star Tribune that he’s hoping to bring in player(s) that can be here long-term. Collins fits that bill, but his contract would likely mean Jaden McDaniels would be traded before the end of McDaniels’ rookie deal, if not included in the outgoing package.

Detroit Pistons v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Jerami Grant — Detroit Pistons

Mike O’Hagan: Outside of Ben Simmons, Grant may be the next high-profile player who is actually likely to be moved. While Grant has shown to be capable of more than he was asked to do with the Denver Nuggets, his ideal role is probably somewhere between what Denver and Detroit have asked of him.

Recently, John Hollinger of The Athletic proposed a deal where Minnesota sends Malik Beasley, Jaden McDaniels, and a FRP for Grant. Value wise, that’s pretty fair for both sides. Personally, I think I’d pass. Given that Minnesota already has three players who will have the ball in their hands a ton, I worry about Grant’s willingness to accept being the fourth-option on offense. Additionally, Grant is a ridiculously poor rebounder for someone his size. He rebounds at rate similar to Patrick Beverley.

To compensate, Minnesota would likely have no choice but to start Grant alongside Vanderbilt and Towns. It’s enticing to think about what Minnesota’s defense may look like with both of Vando and Grant defending on the wing. That’s a ton of length, and it would offer Chris Finch a lot of flexibility on how he wanted to attack opposing offenses. It is an enticing move for sure, but Grant is likely a better fit for a team more on the cusp of a championship run than Minnesota.

Jack Borman: Grant carries a $20.0 million cap hit and has one year left on his deal beyond this season, making him extension-eligible this offseason. According to B/R’s Jake Fischer, Grant expects to sign a four-year, $112 million extension after the season.

It’s not difficult to make the deal work financially. Like Collins, his contract situation would preclude you from signing McDaniels to a long-term deal, provided you could trade for him without including McDaniels. Hollinger’s (albeit not totally serious) offer would put the Wolves $2.7 million into the tax. It’d likely need to be a three-team construct.

Here’s an idea, but the Pistons just aren’t a good match with the Wolves on paper and likely say no. Outside of Simmons, Grant may be the biggest fish in the pond during the trade season. Because of that, Grant will go for at least solid player, a promising young player and a first-round pick.

I offered a first and a pick swap, partly because Kelly Olynyk is still a very good player and would be an upgrade over Naz Reid given Olynyk is a much better defender and the more accurate marksman. Marshall’s deal is non-guaranteed for 2023-24 so he could be waived after next year. The Pistons getting a first, McDaniels, Beasley and a pick swap may be on the light side given how many suitors Grant could have; it may take another first — perhaps lottery protected — to get it done. Whether or not Gupta is willing to part with two firsts in a non-Simmons deal is unknown, but seems unlikely given he is auditioning to call the shots full-time.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Sacramento Kings Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Harrison Barnes — Sacramento Kings

Mike O’Hagan: To me, Barnes falls into a similar category asset wise to Grant, but he is a less dynamic defender and scorer. To make up for that, Harry B is an elite spot-up shooter, stronger post defender, and has shown he is willing to buy into a smaller role. His next extension is also likely to be shorter and more affordable than Grant’s.

He’s the type of player who would give Minnesota a ton of flexibility. Barnes is too good to come off the bench, but he makes sense in the starting lineup if you wanted to free Vanderbilt to guard wings on defense and play in the dunker spot on offense. I really like the idea of Barnes in Minnesota as long as Minnesota is willing to pay him the ~$18M he’s owed next season. That’s a more-than-fair number in my opinion, and he’s more useful at that price than Beasley is at ~$15.5M next year.

The difficult part of the Barnes equation is figuring out what exactly the Kings want in return. Are they chasing the play-in, or are they looking more towards the future? Strange as it sounds, Sacramento holds a lot of the cards at the trade deadline, and how they play them will have ripple effects across the league between Barnes and Buddy Hield.

Jack Borman: Even though we disagree in the group chat on the daily, Mike, I agree with everything you laid out here. He’s the ideal front court partner for Towns (*ducks*), but can also play the 3 if you want to start Vanderbilt next to Towns, which adds to his value in the context of adding him to this team. Gupta has history with Kings GM Monte McNair — the two worked together for six seasons under Daryl Morey in Houston.

Given how similar Barnes and Grant are in terms of position, the ways in which they can impact the game, their contract situations, and their desires to leave teams going nowhere quickly, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if teams are simultaneously are in on both players, driving up each player’s price ahead of the deadline.

Something to watch: Jake Layman moving. Gupta will have to stay under the tax with his moves and Layman going to a team with ample space beneath the tax and an open roster spot — such as New Orleans, Orlando or Houston — is essentially a formality.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Utah Jazz Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

Joe Ingles — Utah Jazz

Mike O’Hagan: It’s hard to imagine Jingles anywhere but Utah, but they seem destined for an upgrade, and Ingles expiring contract is their most likely ticket to do so. Things are also just ... weird in Utah right now. If that’s the case, Minnesota should be interested. I doubt Minnesota has what Utah would consider to be an “upgrade” on the roster, so this would probably require a third team, but Minnesota could do worse than a career 41% three-point shooter who can make plays in PnR situations.

At 34-years old, Ingles has declined a bit, but if the price tag to get involved isn’t too steep, he would be a nice pick-up for the rest of the season. A second-unit featuring D’Angelo Russell, Jaylen Nowell, and Joe Ingles would pack a lot of shooting and playmaking punch. Plus, it’s fun to envision how Beverley and Ingles would work together to annoy opponents for 48 minutes.

Jack Borman: Sign me up. Secondary playmaking is something the Wolves need in the worst of ways, and Ingles can do just that. The prospect of him heating up and talking some shit in a play-in game, or playoff series against the Jazz, is delightful. This one is unlikely, though, given Gupta’s aim to add a long-term player.

The Rudy Gobert contract is hilariously bloated, which puts Utah in a predicament trade-wise. Utah presumably would want to upgrade from Ingles, and Robert Covington is good fit there. A four-team construct with Ingles coming to Minnesota would be beneficial to the Jazz and Wolves. The Wolves take flyers on Azubuike and McLemore while getting a known asset in Ingles, while the Blazers get out of the luxury tax and pick up a first.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

PJ Washington — Charlotte Hornets

Mike O’Hagan: Washington is being shopped because Charlotte has a lot of future money committed already, with Miles Bridges up for Restricted Free Agency this off-season. The Hornets have drafted well recently, and Washington finds himself as the odd man out, it appears.

He’s a good player, though, who would really help the Timberwolves. A Washington-Vanderbilt forward pairing might be a little clunky, but he’s already coming off the bench in Charlotte, so I’m not sure that’s a real issue. The larger issue would be that, similar to Beasley, you’d likely pay him starter money to potentially come off the bench. Vanderbilt’s value deal somewhat offsets that inconvenience, though. Any team that is trading for Washington is surely doing so with the intention of extending him, but I have zero clue what an accurate estimate is of his next contract.

From a basketball standpoint, he’s a player defenses have to account for as a shooter, and is a more versatile defender than your average 4. Although he’s only 6’7”, he’s strong, yet mobile.

Charlotte will surely want a nice haul for Washington, but they are another team that’s difficult to get a read on. They’re on the rise for sure, but are they looking for a future asset or someone who can help them right now? The LaMelo Ball-Miles Bridges core doesn’t really line up with Gordon Hayward’s large deal, and Terry Rozier slots in somewhere in between.

They seem to be the leader in the clubhouse to acquire Myles Turner given their center rotation, but if they swing-and-miss there, could the Timberwolves entice them with a package including Naz Reid? It would, obviously, require more than Reid to make the best offer here, but it’s something to consider, at the very least.

Jack Borman: Turner has to be the only reason the Washington’s name is circulating in trade rumors. He won’t be Wolf, but here’s a package. Again, the Wolves aren’t a match with what the Hornets need: a legit center.

Houston Rockets v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

Eric Gordon — Houston Rockets

Mike O’Hagan: Gordon is enjoying his best season in a long, long time, and he’s going to be a hot commodity at the trade deadline. He’s a great, versatile shooter who can also put the ball on the floor and can defend. I wanted to mention him because he’s a nice theoretical fit on this team, but I find it hard to believe Minnesota is going to meet the asking price.

He’s 33 with a significant injury history, but the main roadblock is likely to be that he’s someone contenders will undoubtedly covet. It’s more likely that a struggling contender or pseudo-contender pays a premium for Gordon than it is that he ends up in MN. Gordon does have one more guaranteed season on his contract at ~$19M, which I doubt Minnesota wants to take on.

Jack Borman: There’s history here. Gupta worked in Houston with Stone for the entirety of his time there.

Gordon makes sense in the interim, but not long-term. Because of that, it feels unlikely from Minnesota’s perspective that they acquire him. However, it’s easy to swing financially. Wolves fans may not like this deal, but Beasley is a borderline negative asset and a playoff will find a way to send a first for Gordon.

Charlotte Hornets v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Robert Covington — Portland Trail Blazers

Mike O’Hagan: For all of the reasons Nance is a possible trade target, RoCo is as well. He is the single most likely player in Portland to be moved, which says a lot. He’s in the last year of his deal, and, to put it kindly, it has been an up-and-down year for Covington. He is what he is on offense at this point, which is a willing yet unspectacular three-point shooter who offers nothing positive off the dribble. Any team trading for Covington is hoping they can extract more value out of his defensive abilities than Portland has.

I think that’s a worthwhile bet, especially for Minnesota so long as the acquisition cost is reasonable for a 31-year old on an expiring contract. Alongside players like Vando, McDaniels, and Beverley, Covington wouldn’t be asked to defend the opposing teams best wing player the way he has been in Portland. That’s just a really poor use of his skill-set. He has average lateral quickness, but his length, instincts, and IQ have always made him an elite help-defender. The injuries may have zapped some of that, but he’d be put in a position to thrive with Minnesota. If it doesn’t work out, there shouldn’t be pressure to re-sign him in the off-season, but his length would add to what makes Minnesota’s defense effective.

Jack Borman: I love RoCo. One of my all-time favorite Wolves. He’s still just 31, is effective on both ends, and the calculus to acquire him is very simple. Prince and a first-rounder, or Beasley and a first-rounder with an expiring Blazer coming back would get it done.

I’d bet Portland is more interested in the former. It’s feasible, makes sense for both teams, and I hope KAT pushes hard to get one of his best friends back to Minnesota. RoCo could re-sign for two years before a McDaniels extension kicks in at the start of the 2024-25 season.

Keep in mind that Portland will want to get under the tax and will need to offload one of their expiring minimums (likely Zeller, Snell or McLemore) in order to do that in this deal.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Harrison Barden/Getty Images

Kenrich Williams — Oklahoma City Thunder

Mike O’Hagan: Ah, yes, the foremost NBA Twitter Darling who, for whatever reason, can’t seem to get consistent burn on bad teams.

Jokes aside, Williams is a good player, whose talents would be magnified around other good players. This is the last guaranteed year on Williams’ deal, though his play should warrant the $2M investment for 2022-23.

He’s a low-cost swiss army knife option. Maybe it’s because he’s sort of a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none type , but it is difficult to understand why he isn’t more valued throughout the league. Either way, he comes with zero risk financially, while doing a little bit of everything. He can shoot it a bit, and is a competent passer, rebounder, and defender. He’s a connector.

Surely, Oklahoma City wants to accrue more picks, but truthfully I don’t know what their plan is or when they will get tired of adding more draft capital. I’m not giving up something substantial here, but I believe he’s a good player to at least kick the tires on.

Jack Borman: I like Williams, but I wouldn’t trade a first for him. Here’s a simple idea that gives OKC some future upside while fulfilling the need for another big in Reid, while tacking on a second-rounder to their 2022 draft proceedings.

Considered, but unlikely to be available targets for Minnesota: Donte DiVincenzo, Josh Hart, Larry Nance Jr., Mo Bamba