In a report today from The Athletic’s Shams Charania, we learned that the Timberwolves are set to have interest in signing Brooklyn Nets Restricted Free Agent D’Angelo Russell.
This news is surprising, to say the least. I think everyone’s initial reaction to this was, “Where’s the money going to come from?”
If nothing else, this signals that Gersson Rosas and the rest of the new front office are going to be aggressive. The only way they could free up the cap space to sign Russell to an offer sheet that Brooklyn wouldn’t match would (probably) be to aggressively look for Wiggins/Teague/Dieng trades. I’m not going to pretend to be a salary cap expert here, but I can tell you that there would be a lot of salary cap gymnastics at work if Rosas were actually able to bring D-Lo to Minneapolis.
Aside from the salary cap restraints, there’s a few more layers to this. For one, Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns are good buddies. Good organizations don’t just sign all of their best players’ best friends (unless it’s Lebron), but it wouldn’t hurt to try to keep KAT happy, either.
In terms of basketball fit, it’s complicated. Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of D-Lo. He’s rather inefficient, and relies heavily on pull-up mid-range jumpers as opposed to attacking the rim out of the pick-and-roll.
With that being said, it’s hard to see how the Wolves could otherwise acquire a perimeter scoring and playmaking threat as good as the All-Star. They’re almost certainly not going to get a guy better than Russell with the 11th pick in the draft, and it’s hard to see a route where they get a better player in free agency.
Russell would certainly bleed points defensively, but the hope would be that Josh Okogie and Robert Covington would be able to cover up for some of his mistakes on that end of the floor.
Would Russell even consider Minnesota over proven playoff contenders in Utah and Indiana? Maybe not, but it seems likely that KAT could at least get him in the building for a meeting.
In the end, it’s hard to see how Minnesota would clear the cap space to sign Russell to the max or near-max contract he will be seeking, but the fact that the Wolves’ name is thrown around as a potential suitor signals that Rosas and company figure to be very aggressive in the not-so-distant future.