Trade-Less Wolves Solidify Trajectory


The Minnesota Timberwolves spent the trade deadline watching sixteen trades take place, none including the then-worst team in the NBA.

Why didn’t the Wolves make any moves?

The Case for Frustration

When the clock hit 2:00 pm CT, March 25th, the league-worst, 10-34 Timberwolves officially went the season without making a trade.

For followers of a team that has been riddled with injuries, Covid and plenty of disfunction, the trade deadline offers a slight chance at revival.

Gersson Rosas has been clear in his affinity for trades. Small markets tend to struggle to compete with their larger counterparts in free agency. Rosas has stated the path to success is likely through the draft and through trade. Considering at-best, they will only have a 40% chance at retaining their pick for this coming draft, trades and development are optimally the means for improvement.

The Wolves’ record likely isn’t reflective of the talent they have on their roster. The idea alone of Towns and Russell only playing four games together is reason enough to take their record lightly. Throw a 12-game suspension, a top-drafted rookie, and a midseason coaching change into that mix…that sounds like disfunction.

Not Even One?

Rosas alluded to having felt like it wasn’t fair to overhaul the roster again when they didn’t know what they had with the current one. But the Timberwolves have a talent deficiency. Waiting for everyone to get healthy wouldn’t result in a successful team, areas of the roster need improvement.

Rosas overhauled the roster at last year’s deadline. He has taken advantage of every opportunity to trade, making roster tweaks and asset swaps at the previous deadline and the draft. He is touted as being one of the league’s most aggressive GMs, seemingly being linked to every big name available.

His assistant GM, Sachin Gupta, literally invented ESPN’s trade machine.

On a day where there was a justified opportunity to breathe new life into the franchise, the front office held off. There is something to be said about having some sense of stability in a season that has otherwise lacked it. But again, there aren’t many opportunities to improve a roster. To spend the time they must have vetting potential options, working through trade possibilities, there wasn’t a single option worth doing?

There were obviously rumors of a John Collins or Aaron Gordon pursuit, but the reported cost was too rich for the Wolves. A team with the league’s worst record might want to think twice about trading away future picks or young players. But the Wolves currently have 14 different players that warrant NBA minutes if everyone’s healthy (sorry, Ed). Of those, not one could be spared in a trade? Whether something was available or not, going without a move this deadline turns the heat up for this offseason.

Expectations Going Forward

With Malik Beasley and D’Angelo Russell set to return soon, the Wolves will hopefully have a chance to really see what things will look like. There is hope that a solid sample size to end the year will provide insight as to what will and won’t work when it really counts. The sole fact that the season has gone without a run of everyone healthy is partially why they were quiet at the deadline. The chance to see this roster healthy and play out the rest of the year matters largely to validate their deadline inactivity.

The Wolves aren’t a free-agent destination, not that they have cap space anyway. They likely won’t have their top pick this year – or any pick at all.

They flat out need more talent if they will ever compete.

Glen Taylor could sell the team, KAT will have another lost season under his belt, another year chalked-up to turmoil. The bones of a team will need to be in place by opening day next year if they will have a chance to grow and play together. Prioritizing this group being together over general roster improvement was Gersson’s vision for the deadline. Considering the greater context of what’s at stake as next year approaches, hopefully, these last 25-ish games provide the clarity he’s looking for.

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About Zach Ubben

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