By: Brian Simonson
They finally did it.
What seemed to be inevitable for months has finally come to fruition.
Another step in what appears to be in the right direction for the franchise has been made.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have traded for D’Angelo Russell.
Things were looking embarrassingly bleak and on the verge of panic halfway through the season. From having the wrong personnel to fit the system, awful shooting percentages, multiple losing streaks, low fan attendance, Karl-Anthony Towns getting “fed up”, Gersson Rosas injects new life into the franchise. He blows the league and Wolves Nation away with multiple trades going down by the deadline on Thursday, February 6. It’s been a crazy last few days.
Here’s a recap of the trades made by the Timberwolves:
This is now the roster of your Minnesota Timberwolves as of February 6, 2020 (including 2-way players):
Rosas has done much more than many have anticipated only halfway into his first year with the Timberwolves. He was able to do a complete overhaul of the roster and bring in D-Lo while having very little wiggle room to work with. Absolutely impressive. This is a testament to his “actions over words” and commitment to this organization taking steps in the right direction for the future. Positive days for the Wolves are few and far in between, but this one is certainly one of the greater highlights for the franchise. Over several trades in one season, Rosas has removed the team’s unfavorable contracts, kept the 2020 1st round pick, brought in solid rotational players from winning organizations which are a better fit for Saunders’ system, and lastly, convinced the Warriors to trade D’Angelo Russell. Because of Rosas, the Wolves now have two All-Stars on the roster.
What is most impressive about the Russell trade portion is that Wolves Nation thought the only way to move Andrew Wiggins was to attach 1st round draft compensation, only to get pennies on the dollar in return. Instead, the Wolves were able to let go of just one first-round pick, one second-round pick, and Wiggins for D-Lo, and receive in return two serviceable bench players who will be given an opportunity to contribute.
After being shipped around the NBA for a few years, Russell has found a new home in Minnesota. He played two years for the Lakers after being drafted No. 2 overall in 2015, but LAL opted to go with Lonzo Ball as its point guard of the future and shipped Russell to the Brooklyn Nets. He played two years in Brooklyn, with the second being his breakout season earning an the first All-Star appearance of his career.
As we know all and well, Russell was offered a maximum contract by the Warriors last summer and took it over finding a permanent home in the league -- something the Wolves were offering should they had cleared up the money to sign him.
Well, he's here now. While the defense needs work, the Wolves now their star point guard and a big man who can score at any time, anywhere on the court. LOCKED IN FOR THE NEXT FOUR YEARS.
The Wolves got their guy. It's up to Russell, KAT, Rosas and Saunders(?) to elevate this team to new heights in the coming years.
Malik was a valuable scoring punch off the bench with the Denver Nuggets in the minutes he was given and shot 40% from three last season. Three-point shooting is a desperate need for the Wolves and Beasley helps close that gap. Now that he’ll be given a chance for more minutes with the Wolves, this is an opportunity for him to showcase more of his potential. Beasley is bringing much needed energy to the roster.
Juancho is the other Nugget coming to town. Like Beasley, Hernangomez was also limited minutes due to extended depth at his position. However, there were periodic flashes. If given the chance, Hernangomez and Beasley could prove to be critical pieces moving forward if the Wolves decide to retain them. Many folks in Denver feel that there’s a possibility of getting a steal with these two.
The third and final Nugget is a G-League player who has logged nine games with the Nuggets, mostly due to an injury to Mason Plumlee. His usage was low in those 9 games, averaging 4.6 minutes each contest.
The Wolves bring in this big man from Golden State who has been a nice young piece for them. Spellman has improved his three-point shot as of late and currently sits at 39 percent from three this season. He was able to help space the floor for Golden State due to this ability of maintaining this. His defense is still in question as he may be used in certain instances as a stretch-five but he may be paired alongside KAT at the four. He’s been logging big minutes for the Warriors while their main core of All Stars are out.
Jacob was averaging 4.7 points a game in 15.3 minutes a game. On top of struggling most of the year, he also missed some time due to a concussion in January.
James is another valuable rotational player who can bring a much needed veteran presence which derives from his experience with the Miami Heat and their highly respected culture and player development system. He’ll be quite serviceable off the bench like he was with the Heat, however at age 32 it is hard to see how he fits in the vision long term.
After starting 10-8, the Wolves took a complete nosedive and have gone 5-27 since, including two 10+ game losing streaks. Recently, they logged a historic loss by blowing a 27 point lead to the Sacramento Kings on January 27. It was clear the roster didn’t work for the style of play, the players were careless with the basketball which generated 15.5 turnovers a game, the shooting was horrendous, and there was zero effort on defense. What started as a season with lots of hype, it quickly turned disastrous.
These trades are coming at the right time and is a much needed breath of fresh air. Rosas created more with less by bringing in players who fit the system better, they’ve slightly improved their three-point shooting, and brought in a few promising pieces that could be a part of the future. Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez and Omari Spellman are intriguing pieces to watch. KAT is happy again, as well as the fanbase. This is obviously not the final product Rosas envisioned, but it is certainly the progression we needed and deserves praise for his tenacity to execute these trades.
The primary objective for the remaining 32 games should be to continue to develop the players and the system, work on defense and taking care of the basketball. Games should be much more exciting to watch with D-Lo and KAT doing numerous pick-and-rolls and fans should be more engaged. Let’s hope the new players are able to suit up for the game on Saturday, February 8 against the Clippers. Go Wolves.