3 Biggest Issues the Minnesota Timberwolves Must Address at the Trade Deadline
A cynic would say that the three needs the Wolves have at the trade deadline would be a three-point shooter, a three-point shooter and…well, a three-point shooter.
There is some truth to that: Minnesota does not have a pure shooter and really could use one. They have a point guard in Ricky Rubio who can get him the ball in a position to score and would like to have more room in the middle for their big men to score.
So let it be known: The Wolves would love to have a person who will make it rain, even if it will turn into snow in this part of the country.
Having said that, there are a couple of other pressing issues. There is some question as to what Derrick Williams is worth on the open market, and while there is an argument to keep him, Minnesota would hate to hold on to him too long and get nothing (or next to nothing) for him if he turns out to be a bust.
Also, Andrei Kirilenko has been sensational for the team this year, but he is 31 and has the option to walk at the end of the season. Even if he chooses to stay, which seems pretty likely right now, the team wants to ensure that they’ll have a quality defensive player who can rebound.
If they fail to produce such a player, they’re going to have a really hard time keeping Nikola Pekovic in town for the long term.
I really focused on this weakness when putting together my list of trade candidates earlier in the year, and this is still a weak point for the Wolves right now. They need somebody who can knock down outside jumpers.
Brandon Roy was expected to play that role this year, but the gamble did not pay off and the team will have to see if they can swing a deal for a JJ Redick-type player at the deadline.
In order to obtain such a player, the Wolves not only have to give up assets, but also convince a player with a no-trade clause that they are a bona fide playoff team if he comes to Minneapolis. A little smooth talking could go a long way here.
The Wolves are relatively deep at the guard position and may want to find a trade partner that sees value in a player like JJ Barea or Luke Ridnour, or is willing to take a couple players with expiring contracts.
Pulling this trade off will be tricky, because teams will likely be interested in a rising star like Shved or Pekovic. A way around this may be to sell Dante Cunningham, who has played surprisingly well this season, as a player who either hasn’t hit his potential yet or is at least going to play at the level he has been this season. Package him with one of the veteran guards to try and sweeten the deal.
At this point, it seems foolish to trade a player like Shved, and the only reason to deal Pekovic is if the team thinks he won’t stick around next season. If that’s the case, he’s probably the biggest trade chip right now.
What to do with D-Will?
This is less of a need in the traditional “We need an X-type player” sense. It is more of a “We need to figure this out so it doesn’t bite us in the rear end” kind of situation.
Derrick Williams has been playing better recently; he is shooting 41.6 percent from the field and 35.0 percent from beyond the arc. Those aren’t numbers that are going to blow anyone away, but at least he belongs in the league—which is more than you can say about recent draft picks like Jonny Flynn and Wesley Johnson.
People are certainly justified in wanting to keep him, especially with Love out for an extending amount of time, but there’s no reason why this team shouldn’t see what his value is on the open market.
My guess is Williams is not worth too much, but he is a player that will be valued on his potential as a No. 2 overall pick rather than based on his actual statistics right now. If David Kahn and his people find a suitor that has perhaps overvalued the former Arizona Wildcat and is willing to give Minnesota something of worth (maybe a three-point shooter: hint, hint) they should definitely pull the trigger.
A Backup Plan for Andrei Kirilenko
This is not a great line of reasoning because it is a bit of a slippery slope. I mean, by this logic, the Wolves should have a backup plan in case Love leaves (we all know he’s a bit unhappy) and, as mentioned earlier, Pekovic is a restricted free agent and could be playing in another uniform next season.
And, well, if they go, what about Rubio?
You see what I’m saying here: You can’t prevent everything from going wrong and the best way to curtail a complete drowning of a franchise is to find the source of the leak and seal it off.
Kirilenko may very well be that source.
He’s a glue guy—a veteran presence that is better known for his defensive prowess and willingness to scrape glass than for his ability to score the basketball (lately, he’s been trying to be a supplemental three-point shooter…that needs to stop).
The problem is that he is 31 and has a lot of mileage on his body. In a league where a 28-year-old player can be forced into retirement due to injury (I’m talking, sadly, about Roy here), age is a definite concern.
AK-47 has stayed healthy so far this season, but he has a player option for next year and could choose to leave.
If he does, the Wolves are going to have to get creative and find a big body not named Darko Milicic, Kwame Brown, Greg Oden or any other draft bust, and hope to obtain them for a reasonable price.
Landing such a player would go a long way in encouraging Pekovic, Love and Rubio to stick it out for the long haul.
All statistics courtesy of basketball-reference.com.
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