30 Teams in 30 Days | 2023

30 teams in 30 days: Will Anthony Edwards' star turn be enough for Timberwolves?

Anthony Edwards took flight even as Minnesota's new frontline struggled. Are the Wolves on the upswing in 2023-24?

Mike Conley’s arrival at the trade deadline helped invigorate the Wolves’ solid finish to 2022-23.

Key additions

  • G Shake Milton (free agency) 

Key subtractions:

  • F Taurean Prince

Last season

It wasn’t a certified disaster, but the fears stemming from a blockbuster trade to bring in Rudy Gobert and pair him with Karl-Anthony Towns were mostly justified. The two big men never really meshed. To be fair, Towns did miss 53 games, so maybe this wasn’t a fair sneak peek. Gobert in particular saw his flaws (bad hands, no dribble, no mid-range shot) come to light, and his defense wasn’t up to his usual high standards.

Making matters worse, the package of young players and first-round picks the Wolves surrendered to get Gobert last summer could crimp the team’s future. Put it this way: from a personnel standpoint, Minnesota would arguably be better today if the trade wasn’t made, given that Walker Kessler was an All-Rookie First Team player for Utah last season. But time will tell.

Meanwhile, the Wolves struggled on nights when they weren’t at least mediocre. They never jelled or looked dominant. They only won 42 games with a quick playoff exit as Towns’ injury didn’t help better what could’ve been crucial positioning. 

They did, however, receive a next-level season from Anthony Edwards, by far the brightest spot of the season. Edwards averaged 24.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game, performing downright beastly at his best. Also, the Wolves received a boost at point guard when veteran Mike Conley Jr. came in at the trade deadline (replacing D’Angelo Russell) and made an instant connection.

Jaden McDaniels’ development provided another plus, as did Naz Reid, who sparkled while filling in for Towns. Those young players provided energy and hope.

Summer summary

It’s hard to pull off back-to-back major offseasons and in the case of the Timberwolves, such was the case. Call this the gap year between major decisions, because if all goes poorly for the Wolves, a shakeup will surely be next. 

The Wolves resisted any urge, however small, to deal Towns or pull the plug on The Gobert Experience after one very suspect season. That left them with two no-brainer money decisions: extend Edwards and Reid. 

The first one was easy enough. Edwards took his rookie max, a five-year deal that could reach $260 million, because nobody turns that down no matter what. Edwards is on the cusp of being a star, and it’s assumed that he’s the most valuable player on the roster.

Of course, with that extension, the Wolves now have three players on max contracts (Edwards, Towns and Gobert), a rarity in the NBA. Again, next summer could prove eventful if the Wolves fail to go deep into the playoffs this upcoming season. It’s hard to sell fans on the franchise when you can’t win big with three max guys.

Do the Timberwolves have tenable future with their 'twin towers?'

The second extension was signed with fingers crossed as Reid had a breakout 2022-23 season and the Wolves badly wanted him back. Two potential issues: He plays a center, a position at which the Wolves are already stacked. Because of that, it’s possible Reid would get itchy about joining another team where he could have a meatier role.

But he enjoys Minnesota and therefore the deal was struck: three years, $42 million — a win-win for player and team.

With a sliver of cap space remaining, the Wolves grabbed Milton from the free agent pile. Milton had an up-and-down stint with the Sixers and lost his place a bit at the end of his stay in Philadelphia. He’s definitely a rotation player in Minnesota, however, and will back up Edwards.

Up next: Denver Nuggets | Previously: Utah Jazz

> 30 teams in 30 days: Complete schedule

* * *

Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Warner Bros. Discovery.