The Minnesota Timberwolves are primed to be active on the trade market over the next three weeks, given their slow start in a Western Conference that is as open as it has been in the last decade.
Expect trade chatter surrounding Wolves point guard D’Angelo Russell to fly, as Russell is on an expiring contract and contract extension talks to this point haven’t gained any traction, according to multiple reports.
Keep in mind that since Minnesota President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly first took over as the lead executive for the Denver Nuggets in 2013, he has been very active at the trade deadline. Connelly executed two trades both in 2014 and 2015, one trade in 2016, two trades in 2017, one trade in 2018, two trades in 2020 (including the four-team mega deal with the Wolves, Atlanta Hawks and Houston Rockets), two trades in 2021, and made a trade nearly a month in advance of the deadline last season.
So, the only year Connelly hasn’t made a trade in advance of the deadline was 2019. That season, the Nuggets made their jump from ninth in the West (at 46-36, which is insane) in 2017-18 to second (54-28), so it is understandable why Connelly elected not to rock the boat in any way. Although, they did lose in the first round of the playoffs to the DeMar DeRozan/LaMarcus Aldridge San Antonio Spurs squad.
This time around, Connelly has zero first-round picks available to trade due to the Rudy Gobert trade in July, in which the Timberwolves sent Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Patrick Beverley, Walker Kessler and Leandro Bolmaro — along with unprotected first-round picks in 2023, 2025, and 2027, a top-five protected first in 2029 and the rights to swap first-round picks in 2026 — to the Utah Jazz in exchange for the three-time Defensive Player of the Year.
Given that Russell is set to be an unrestricted free agent later this summer, the chances of netting a first-round pick, or any type of young player that is considered a great trade asset, is unlikely. However, if the Timberwolves were to include one of their two young talents on expiring deals, Jaylen Nowell and Naz Reid, the future asset/good young player conversation may get more interesting.
How the Wolves front office approaches the 2023 deadline will be a fascinating storyline to follow and we’ll have coverage of all it for you here at Canis Hoopus. I suggest bookmarking this page so you can easily find it over the next three weeks.