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What A Wild Trade Deadline It Was For The Minnesota Timberwolves

by Kyle Ratke, Digital Content Manager

Digital Content Manager

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Just another Thursday, right? 

The 2019-20 NBA trade deadline was an absolutely wild one for the Minnesota Timberwolves. There are days that are busy and there are days that you’ve never seen before and you’ll probably never see again.

Thursday was both of those things for the Timberwolves and their fans. 

By the time the day was over, the Timberwolves had just two players – Karl-Anthony Towns and Josh Okogie – who were members of the team last season. 

In total, there were 14 players involved in trades and three future draft picks with six different teams. 

To keep track in real-time with every Woj bomb seemed nearly impossible. In order to follow along, maybe you had a notebook with all of the moves written down. Maybe you took screenshots. Maybe you just took a nap because this was all giving you a big headache and figured you’d catch up when the dust settled.  

The deal that headlined everything, and shook the NBA landscape, was the Timberwolves acquiring D’Angelo Russell in exchange for Andrew Wiggins, a 2021 protected first-round pick and a 2021 second-round pick.

This was a deal, according to reports, that was in the works for some time. Deals like this are talked about, but very rarely does someone as talented as Russell end up being traded.

Gersson Rosas and the rest of the Timberwolves’ front office was able to pull it off. 

The Timberwolves now have an All-Star caliber point guard to pair with Towns – and it certainly doesn’t help the two are very good friends, too. 

As far as trades are concerned, it’s one of the best players the team has acquired via a trade in franchise history. Other candidates include Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell in 2003 or Jimmy Butler in 2017.  

When Rosas was hired as the team’s President of Basketball Operations last offseason, he told the media that he would be aggressive. Of course, that’s what he was going to say, almost had to say, in taking over a franchise that has struggled to find consistency over the years. 

But Rosas has proven those weren’t empty promises.

For someone who has preached actions over words during his time here, that couldn’t have been truer this week. 

A quick recap. 

In: Russell, Malik Beasley, Juan Hernangomez, James Johnson, Evan Turner, 2020 1st-round pick via Nets (protected), Omari Spellman, Jacob Evans 

Out: Wiggins, Gorgui Dieng, Keita Bates-Diop, Shabazz Napier, Jordan Bell, Noah Vonleh, Robert Covington, 2021 1st-round pick (protected), 2022 2nd-round pick 

Quite the roster flip and I can assure you, here at Timberwolves.com, we’ll be busy for a few more days with all of this.

Things You Should Be Excited About 

The fact that the Timberwolves were able to get Russell is surely a franchise-altering move. While the price to get him may have been hefty, it absolutely should have been. This is a 23-year-old point guard who is averaging a career-high 23.6 points per game this season to go with 6.2 assists. He’s a crafty playmaker who can shoot. His 37.4 3-point percentage is also a career-high.

And at only 23, he’s not in his prime yet. With Towns being just 24, the best is yet to come for those two. And with that, the best is yet to come for this franchise. 

And while I don’t want to get too far into his friendship with Towns, in 2020, that sort of thing matters in the NBA. Whether you like it or not, friends in today’s game want to play and build a legacy together. Chemistry is so important both on and off the court. It’s huge the team’s two best players already have that foundation. 

Don’t sleep on Beasley, either. Beasley has been buying his time on a super-deep Nuggets team. He too is only 23 years old and instantly fits this team’s timeline and identity perfectly. Beasley is a solid shooter (38.2 percent from deep in more than 200 career games) and when he’s been given big minutes, he’s taken advantage of them. I’m pulling this from another article of mine from Wednesday. I don’t know if that violates some sort of self-plagiarism law, but I found these numbers remarkable:

10-19 minutes: 37.6 FG%, 30.1 3P%, 47.9 TS% (true shooting)
20-29 minutes: 44.9 FG%, 39.8 3P%, 56.9 TS%
30-39 minutes: 50.6 FG%, 42.6 3P%, 64.3 TS%
40-49 minutes: 58.3 FG%, 50 3P%, 71.5 TS%

The Timberwolves also landed a first-round pick from the Hawks (via Brooklyn) in exchange for Robert Covington. While the Timberwolves are sending their protected pick in 2021 to Golden State, they will have two first-round picks in the 2020 draft – their own and now Brooklyn’s.

If the season ended today, the Timberwolves would be projected to have the fifth pick (although with Russell, the team should improve over the last 32 games of the season) and the Nets are projected to have the 16th pick. If the Nets miss the playoffs (they are in seventh place and have a five-game cushion), Brooklyn will keep its pick, but that seems unlikely.

You can look at those draft picks as assets to use in another trade. At the very least, though, the Timberwolves will be able to add two young and talented pieces to their team next June. 

We haven’t even mentioned players like Hernangomez, Evans and Spellman – three first-round picks selected over the last three years.  

A Reminder This Is Indeed A Business 

Of course, this is another reminder that the NBA is a business. And while Timberwolves fans should be excited, there are players leaving who the fans and those within the organization grew close with during their time here – most notably Wiggins and Dieng.  

Wiggins’ career up to this point has been up and down, sure. But Wiggins the person is one of the most authentic you’ll meet. He was never loud, but he was always professional. 

Dieng saw his minutes fluctuate in Minnesota, especially over the last few years. He never complained, though, and was always ready when called upon. He also did incredible work in his home country of Senegal, which is much bigger than what anyone can do on a basketball court. 

I think I speak for everyone when I say I wish those two nothing but the best with their future teams.  

What a whirlwind the last few days have been for this team. This is a completely different roster that Rosas was able to put together that fits the team’s vision for the future, and also creates some flexibility as well.  

It’s a star-driven league, and the Wolves figured out to get two young stars, who are friends, on the same team. That sounds like a pretty good trade deadline if you ask me. 

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