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Should the Minnesota Timberwolves Make a Trade?
Posted By Stephen Litel On March 6, 2012 @ 9:00 pm In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
The Minnesota Timberwolves are in the midst of their most successful season in a handful of years, but as is the case with each team in the NBA, they are always looking to improve. While they have a talented young core of players they intend to build around, adding a few key pieces to the mix would be greatly beneficial as they try to make their final push to achieve a postseason berth.
Coming into the season, the two biggest areas of concern for the Timberwolves were the shooting guard and center positions. Whether or not Ricky Rubio struggled in his transition this year or not—which he hasn’t—was a moot point. He was going to get a majority of the minutes running the show and learning NBA basketball on the job. Michael Beasley and rookie Derrick Williams were going to split time at the small forward position, as many believed they were redundant players and there wouldn’t be much drop off from one to the next. Of course, the power forward position is manned by the now two-time NBA All-Star Kevin Love, who has taken the next step in his own development during the 2011-12 season.
As somewhat of a surprise to the Timberwolves, Nikola Pekovic was able to contribute greatly to Minnesota’s cause on the court by becoming a great compliment to Love in the post. Yet, the shooting guard position remains the biggest hole in the team’s attack. At the beginning of the season, Minnesota had hopes that Wesley Johnson could learn the position and fill the role, but he has struggled all season with his shot, despite his somewhat improved play recently. J.J. Barea does a lot of good things when he is in the backcourt with Rubio, but can’t play 48 minutes a game and the Timberwolves are much better served having him come off the bench as an offensive sparkplug.
This is why the majority of trade rumors out there have the Timberwolves landing a shooting guard or, at least, a wing player who can hit outside shots and consistently defend. The names heard most are Kevin Martin or Courtney Lee from the Houston Rockets, O.J. Mayo from the Memphis Grizzlies and Anthony Morrow from the New Jersey Nets. The main player in trade conversation for the Timberwolves is Michael Beasley, who numerous reports state Minnesota is definitely looking to deal by the deadline.
A few reports out of Houston indicate the Rockets would be willing to part with Martin and his contract if they were able to acquire draft picks and the ability to get contracts off the books. If those reports are, in fact, true, a trade sending Martin to Minnesota for Beasley and Anthony Randolph would make sense. Minnesota would surely have to add a draft pick or two into the mix for the deal to be appealing to Houston, but Martin has a history with Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman, who is a huge believer in his talents.
Another option to add something to the mix for Houston would be if the Timberwolves would take on the contract of Terrence Williams, who has fallen out of favor with the Rockets. In order for that to work, the Timberwolves would have to add another player to the mix, possibly Wayne Ellington. It may be a lot for Houston to give up Martin—who has two more seasons on his contract—but for cap space and draft picks, they just may consider it.
While many Timberwolves fans have been caught up in hoping to find a way to get O.J. Mayo to the Timberwolves, it actually is a much more difficult trade to make. Mayo’s contract is up at the end of the season and Minnesota would either want a guarantee that he would re-sign or want to make a trade with Memphis without giving up draft picks. If they had a guarantee Mayo would re-sign, a Beasley-for-Mayo trade works cap-wise, but Memphis would require a draft pick or two to make the trade worth their time.
Anthony Morrow of the New Jersey Nets is another intriguing possibility for Minnesota and the framework of a trade between the teams would be rather simple. Everyone knows the Nets are doing everything they can to find a way to get Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic on their roster, whether it is before the trade deadline or during free agency this off-season. Again, cap space and draft picks are incredibly valuable. Minnesota could send a future first round pick or a combination of second round picks to New Jersey, as well as taking on the one player they would actually want in a trade and a contract to give New Jersey a bit more room to maneuver.
Again, with Beasley being the player leaving Minnesota, the Timberwolves could acquire Morrow if a player such as Johan Petro was added to the trade. If New Jersey is going all out to land Howard, Petro’s contract would be handy to have off the books – along with Morrow’s – and Beasley could be in a trial period for the remainder of the season in New Jersey. If he plays well and earns an extension, and Howard and Deron Williams approve of him, he could be a very valuable third option.
Of these three most-discussed trade partners, the option that makes the most sense for the Timberwolves is to acquire Martin. His past relationship with Coach Adelman would make him a perfect fit in a system he already knows well and his outside shooting as well as his ability to create off the dribble are things sorely missed in Minnesota’s attack. While the Rockets aren’t necessarily shopping Martin, there are scenarios out there where they would give him up. Minnesota may be able to provide two of the better options in cap space and draft picks.
Whether or not the specifics of these trade scenarios is actually being discussed is unknown, but with how hard the Timberwolves are shopping Michael Beasley, it wouldn’t be a surprise if there has been communication between all the teams. One thing is for certain: If Minnesota wants to address their shooting guard situation, Michael Beasley is the main piece in figuring it out.
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