The blockbuster move to acquire three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert completely shifted the Minnesota Timberwolves’ mindset. A team focused on building a winning team and culture for the future turned into a ball club that wanted to win now following just one trade. Minnesota’s front office shipped out four first-round picks and a pick swap with five other players in exchange for Gobert.
Heading into the 2023 NBA Draft, the Timberwolves currently have no first-rounders at their disposal. In fact, Minnesota only has the 53rd selection — accompanying ten other teams with just one draft pick to their name. However, as the draft kicks off in less than 24 hours, rumors have started to circle around Minnesota’s willingness to trade up or make another splashy trade.
Getting Back Into the First Round?
The Timberwolves are one of just two other teams that have zero first-round picks in this year’s draft. The other two teams — Milwaukee Bucks and Philidelphia 76ers — are further into their winning windows, so not having first-rounders doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. However, the Wolves are still the 12th youngest team in the NBA, with a median age of right around 25 years old. Finding younger players that can still help the team win now while building around the novice core of Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels is paramount. The best route to finding success in that regard may be found in the first round.
In a recent article, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic discussed what he’d been told from inside the organization in terms of the draft, trade rumors, and free agency.
“They currently have only the 53rd pick, near the end of the second round, to play with, but have been making calls around the league to gauge the market to see if there is a chance to move back into the first round.”
The NBA Draft is two days away and, like many teams, the Timberwolves have been gauging the market on trades. What they’re hearing so far, plus info on a few familiar faces spotted in town this week. https://t.co/Qdu2fLr7A2— Jon Krawczynski (@JonKrawczynski) June 20, 2023
Krawczynski mentioned that there had not been any progress on a potential deal. However, as we all know, things can change vastly leading up to and on draft night.
Tim Connelly on potentially trading into the first round tomorrow night:— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) June 21, 2023
"We’ve had a lot of conversations. I don’t think anything is close for us to get in the first round. Generally, a lot of the calls are kind of theoretical until the last 24 hours. We’ll see."
At a media availability Wednesday morning, President of Tim Connelly confirmed Krawczynski’s report on no trades becoming close to reality. However, as both said, a transaction going through could become more likely leading up to/during the draft. It is a deadline-driven league, after all.
It would be difficult for Minnesota to trade up in the draft with just their 53rd overall pick. Sure, they could toss in a couple of future second-rounders. However, the team would likely have to part ways with a role player if they genuinely have their eyes on a prospect projected to go in the first 30.
Taurean Prince’s name has been circulating as a potential trade option. The seven-year forward is entering the final year of a contract extension he signed last summer. On top of that, Prince’s contract is currently non-guaranteed and will become fully guaranteed after the draft on June 28th.
Prince had an up-and-down second season with the Timberwolves. In just 53 games, TP’s overall numbers rose from the previous season — averaging 9.1 points per game and 2.4 rebounds on 46.7% from the floor and 38.1% from three. As the numbers show, Prince’s impact was there, and on a nightly basis, Minnesota could expect him to play with grit on both sides of the ball.
Krawczynki reported “nothing of substance” for trading Prince on draft night. However, if packaging him and the 53rd pick in the draft is what it takes to move into the first round, I have a hard time believing the front office won’t pull the trigger if they truly have their sights set on a prospect further up in the draft.
Is Draft Night the Night To Move KAT?
I sound like a broken record talking about Karl-Anthony Towns’ trade rumors, and frankly, I’m tired of discussing them as well. However, we have a new report from Darren Wolfson of KSTP saying that Minnesota’s front office would listen to trade offers involving KAT on draft night.
Towns has been receiving a good amount of flak on social media this summer. The bulk of that scrutiny comes from his appearance on the Pat Bev Podcast with Rone. I’m not going to rehash all or any of the quotes from KAT again — you can click the link and give the episode a listen if you haven't already. The other half of that online scuttlebutt came following the re-appearance of some team members and Towns not being one of the players spotted.
Among #Timberwolves in at Mayo this morning to get work in: Gobert, Reid, Moore Jr., McDaniels, Minott, Garza, Knight, and @DaneMooreNBA spotted McLaughlin. Sure change from previous regimes/summers with guys in town. pic.twitter.com/Tl3n4iQCPc— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) June 19, 2023
However, KAT saw the chatter of people asking about his whereabouts and uploaded a video of him getting shots up with Timberwolves Player Development Assistant Alex Stepheson to his Instagram under the title “Lab Work,” which is what the caption the Timberwolves used in their post of players returning to Mayo Clinic Square.
Based off the comment sections on those posts, it seems some fans want to see KAT traded this summer after all. However, in the same article mentioned above, Krawczynski reported that there is “nothing of substance” when talking about a potential trade involving Towns on draft night. Keep in mind that Towns cannot be traded until July 7, either, so any potential deal that would get announced before then wouldn’t be finalized for a couple of weeks.
From everything that’s been said within Timberwolves' ownership, front office personnel, and coaching, it doesn't seem likely that the team will move on from Towns this off-season as the team gears up for a “run it back” mindset next season. However, some reckless speculation, as coined by SKOR North, is never a bad thing as long as we fans always remember to take it with a grain, or rather a bag of salt.