NBA Trade Speculation: 7 Deadline Deals to Guarantee the Wolves a Playoff Spot
For the first time since Kevin Garnett's departure, the Minnesota Timberwolves are fighting their way back into relevance. With the emergence of Kevin Love as a legitimate NBA star, a young Spanish born version of 'Pistol' Pete Maravich, and a head coach who is rejuvenated by coaching a very young, eager-to-learn team, this is a playoff team in its infancy.
With the NBA trade deadline approaching, it is going to be buy or sell time for many teams around the league.
Here are seven deadline deals that guarantee Minnesota a playoff spot this season.
JR Smith, Free Agent
Like many other players, when the NBA lockout hit, JR Smith went overseas to continue playing professional basketball.
Well, the Chinese Professional season is over, and JR is looking for a new NBA home. While it would be nice if Minnesota could unload some salary with a deal, the signing of Smith could be a big hit in Minnesota.
The Wolves struggle when teams take away Love's post game, and they need a go-to scorer from the perimeter. Wes Johnson hasn't been as good as advertised, and Michael Beasley has shown flashes, but nothing consistent. Smith could be the consistent scorer the Wolves need when Love is being shut down.
The two downfalls with Smith are: contract dollars and attitude.
While he might be a nice addition, the young guard will demand a big paycheck and has had well-documented attitude problems. If coach George Karl had a difficult time keeping this guy's head screwed on straight, I'm not sure how much success coach Rick Adelman will have. Then again, Adelman coached Chris Webber.
Kyle Korver would be a dream pickup for the Wolves.
He is long, athletic and can shoot the three. A career 41-percent three point shooter, Korver also has the ability to use his 6'7" frame to get to the basket and get to the free throw line.
He makes 1.7 threes per contest, a statistic the Wolves would love to have in their lineup. If you insert Korver into the starting rotation, no one on the floor will be under 6'4".
The Wolves could package up Michael Beasley and Wes Johnson to get Korver away from Chicago.
The Bulls are loaded with talent and might be interested in this deal. They get rid of Korver before he demands a new deal, they get a lottery ticket with Beasley, and the unlimited potential of Wes Johnson. Korver's veteran presence, and his consistency behind the line make him a difference maker for the Wolves immediately.
JJ Redick is a lethal three-point weapon, a high basketball IQ guy, and a proven winner.
The Wolves need the three-point threat to become a part of their game. While they have many shooters, their best three-point shooter is also their center, Kevin Love.
Love can hit threes, but to get to the playoffs, the Wolves need Love to operate in and around the block with the offense going through him. Redick is owed $6.75 million this season, and a club option for next season at $6.19 million.
The Wolves could give up a variety of packages to get Redick, but most certainly you would need to include Beasley. Wes Johnson and Martell Webster could be packaged one or the other as well to make this deal worth it for Orlando.
Since Dwight Howard is most likely going to another team, Orlando will be in full-on rebuilding mode, and will likely want young talent.
Andre Iguodala is the slashing scorer the Wolves would love to have on the wing. His ability to get to the rim would make him a fan favorite right away. With Rubio throwing him lobs, these two could be on Top Ten Plays every other game. Flash is nice, but Iggy is consistent, averaging over 15 points per game to go along with six rebounds and five assists. That stat line alone gets the Wolves into the playoffs this season. The question is, what does Minnesota have that Philadelphia wants? Besides unloading Iguodala's contract, they could use Beasley, Johnson, or Webster. If the Sixers were interested in this deal, the Wolves would likely have no issues throwing in a draft pick as well.
Monta Ellis would immediately take some of the scoring pressure off of Kevin Love, but more importantly, off the rest of the Timberwolves. Besides Love, no other Timberwolf is consistently scoring. The addition of Ellis adds 20 points per game to your starting lineup. It also allows Ellis to do what he does best, which is score off the ball. With Rubio doing the majority of the point guard duties, Ellis will be able to be a pure scorer. His stats could soar in Minnesota, but the real value here is that it will allow Minnesota's young roster of reserves more time to develop. Right now, every bench player feels the pressure to score. With Ellis in the lineup, a lot of that pressure goes away, and the rest of the roster can focus on scoring in the flow of the offense, rather than forcing it. What will the Wolves need to give up? Like most scenarios, Beasley has got to be a part of the deal, along with one or two other guys, and possibly even a draft pick. For what they will be getting in Ellis, Minnesota would probably be willing to part with a second round pick, along with players. Ellis, Rubio, and Love would make Minnesota into a legit contender for a seven or eight playoff slot right now.
Paul Pierce is an ideal fit with Minnesota, but he is a long shot for a few reasons. Number one, he is an icon in Boston and has a real connection to their fan base, so getting him to approve a deal (he has a full no trade clause in his contract) might be tough. Number two, you would have to convince Celtics GM Danny Ainge that trading Pierce is his best option, and until they are (if they ever are) clearly out of the playoff race, that also will be a tough sell. The good news is that Ainge has said he will be looking to get younger, and that breaking up "The Big Three" might be an option. In seasons past, Ainge has never put any one of the three into any sort of trade talks, so he clearly sees the end of the road coming and might be willing to deal. Pierce would serve as a veteran presence for a very young Minnesota team, and he would provide the savvy and consistency on the wing this team desperately needs. Pierce is a playoff veteran, an NBA Champion, and a ten time All-Star. Whatever the Wolves need to give up to get him, aside from D-Will, Rubio, and Love, do it. Pierce makes them a playoff team the moment he arrives.
Jason Terry is an underrated two guard. He can score from anywhere, and on any given night can go for 40 points. Terry might be tough to pry away from the Mavericks, but with a draft pick and their choice of Beasley plus another bench guy like Wes Johnson, the deal might work. Terry is getting older, but still has a few solid seasons in front of him. He is another veteran with a Ring who could help guide this young team into the playoffs. Terry knows what it takes to be a Champion, and his lessons would be invaluable. He would give the Wolves that instant offense from the shooting guard slot they are needing. Terry averages 1.7 threes per game, and shoots them at almost 40%. He also happens to be the cousin of Wolves combo guard Martell Webster, so if he is not included in the deal, that is another plus. With Terry at the two, the Wolves make the playoffs.
A Team on the Verge
The Timberwolves are a young team, but they have supreme talent at two of five positions. Adding a scoring two guard, and eliminating the offense stopping Beasley, will put them over the top. In a town starved for NBA success, pulling the trigger on a deal before the deadline is an absolute must for Minnesota. Taking lessons from this franchise's past, they cannot afford to wait too long to put pieces around their young superstars. The fan base is rejuvenated for the first time in 7 years, it is critical to the Wolves success long term to make the playoffs this season, or at the very least be less than five games from them. Patience is a luxury Wolves GM David Khan cannot afford. Even if you have to give away a pick, getting that shooting guard position locked up is essential. You could wait until free agency, but Minnesota has long been viewed as a free agent wasteland, and if you do decide to wait, the fans might not wait with you. The time to get Love and Rubio a third amigo is now.