NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley is no stranger to hyperbolic outbursts. He continued a decades-long string of bold assertions by stating that the Minnesota Timberwolves’ trade for former Utah Jazz center and three-time All-Star Rudy Gobert trade was the worst in league history.
"The Timberwolves made the worst trade in NBA history... That was so stupid that trade."— ' (@_Talkin_NBA) January 17, 2023
— Charles Barkley#RaisedByWolvespic.twitter.com/7u8GA4ogIf
Angelo Guinhawa of Clutch Points touched on Barkley’s take, and refreshed us on the depth that was coughed up for the French center:
“‘The Timberwolves made the worst trade in NBA history… That was so stupid that trade,’ Charles Barkley said on Inside the NBA as they review some highlights from the contest, per Talkin’ NBA.
To recall in order to acquire Rudy Gobert, the Timberwolves sent Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Leandro Bolmaro, Walker Kessler and Jarred Vanderbilt to the Jazz along with four first-round picks and a pick swap,” Guinhawa reminded readers of.
“Aside from the plethora of draft capital they gave up, one player from the trade is actually thriving with the Jazz. Against the Timberwolves, Kessler showed Minnesota what they missed out as he exploded for 20 points, 21 rebounds and two blocks.”
Albeit an exaggeration, Barkley’s take is not outlandish to the point of garnering placement on Inside the NBA host Ernie Johnson’s post-it wall. There have been a slew of more egregious head-scratching trades over the near-eight decade span of the NBA – i.e Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to the Lakers in 1975, the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets debacle, etc.
The Gobert trade has been unnerving, though. Gobert’s 1.3 blocks per game are down drastically from his career 2.2 BPG average. His points and rebounds per game are all the worst they’ve been since the 2017-18 campaign. He has been an unnatural fit with Karl-Anthony Towns in the lineup, and not assertive nor dominant enough in his absence.
For context, Gobert is currently No. 14 in defensive rating. While impressive, he led the league two consecutive seasons prior, and was in the top five in 2019 and 2020. He is also No. 82 in defensive box plus/minus, as opposed to being No. 13 or better every season from his sophomore year until now.
For the Jazz, Kessler has blossomed as a cog in their system. Beasley continues to score – inefficiently at that. Vanderbilt has maintained status as an elite level hustle player who crashes the boards, excels in the dunker spot and plays exceptional defense. And the four future picks coughed up deprive the Wolves of potentially adding high-level support to their nucleus in the draft.
It remains to be seen if any of the players dealt will reach the same level that Gobert is at in this juncture of his career, or if the draft capital will prove to jolt the Jazz to championship contenders, a la the current Boston Celtics. Nevertheless, let us know in the comments where this ranks among all-time worst trades, and if Minnesota faithful should sit on their hands until the end of the season to properly appraise the franchise-shifting deal.