For some reason, I have always rooted for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Through thick and thin, I have watched them succeed, but mostly fail. I tell people that I watch the Wolves, and the response I often get is: "Why?"
I will tell you that I watch them because every franchise has that moment where all the haters and doubters return to the bandwagon (just ask Red Sox Nation).
The Timberwolves have been the laughingstock of the NBA and Minnesota the last few years. The only place to go is up from here, so here are some trades that the Wolves would/could/should possibly make to get better both short and long term.
Before we dive in, there are a few ground rules. First, I have no idea where the current CBA talks are headed, so all of these trades reflect the current system. Secondly, these are only ideas and I hope at least one of them comes true.
The Timberwolves have a few (but not many) trade chips that David Kahn seems willing to trade.
1. Any big deal the Timberwolves are going to make is certain to include the No. 2 overall pick, a.k.a. Derrick Williams.
2. Michael Beasley: He had himself a nice rebound year last year, averaging 19.2 points per game. However, most teams are concerned with his knuckleheadness.
3. Jonny Flynn: His value is down from his No. 6 selection in the 2009 NBA Draft, but there is still some. He is lightning quick and can get space. He really needs some lessons from J.J. Barea on how to score despite being undersized.
4. Nikola Pekovic: Had an OK first year, but was once considered the second-best foreign center prospect behind Tiago Splitter.
5. Anthony Tolliver: Great energy guy off the bench, but I am sure the Timberwolves would be reluctant to trade him.
6. Anthony Randolph: He has value and upside, but I don't think the Wolves plan to move him. That is why he is so low.
With those trade pieces in mind, the Timberwolves will try to upgrade their worst positions, shooting guard and center.
Trade No. 1: Trade the No. 2 pick for Andrew Bogut and the Milwaukee Bucks' 10th pick. This idea has been floating around the blogs and rumor mills for the last week, and it is a no-brainer for the Timberwolves.
Bogut was considered by some to be the second-best pure center during the 2009-10 season behind Dwight Howard, before a freak arm injury ended his season. He averaged 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks during that season. If he can stay healthy, he would automatically be in contention as the best center in Timberwolves history (sorry Darko).
Secondly, the Wolves could use the 10th pick to select either Providence's Marshon Brooks or Colorado's Alec Burks to upgrade the shooting-guard position.
Trade No. 2: No. 2 pick Michael Beasley and Jonny Flynn for Pau Gasol. Gasol makes a lot of money, but the Wolves are under the cap by a fair amount. This trade adds size to the middle, as well as a Spanish amigo for Ricky Rubio.
The Wolves would gain a go-to scorer and a great passing basketball player. The Lakers need fresh legs for the Kobe Bryant/Derek Fisher era, and those two could provide it. Beasley could slide to the power-forward position and really see some good looks next to Andrew Bynum and Bryant.
Trade No. 3: Trade for either Brook Lopez or Robin Lopez. If you want more offense, trade the No. 2 for Brook Lopez, and if you want more defense and rebounding, trade the No. 20 and Flynn for Robin Lopez. Both of them are legit seven-foot centers who can help the team.
Trade No. 4: Trade for Steve Nash. I am not sure what it will take, because Phoenix will ask for the moon, so I will not speculate. Nash can shoot, pass, and win. All three of these things the Wolves can learn, especially Rubio. Nash, however, only has one year left on his deal, and it is likely that he would rather try to win a championship than play in Minnesota.
Trade No. 5: Trade Beasley for O.J. Mayo. The addition of Mayo alongside Rubio will really bolster the perimeter defense. Last season, the Timberwolves defense let the opponents shoot 37.2 percent on three-pointers (fourth worst) while their opponents took 1,707 three-point attempts (the most in the league). The opposing coaches understood that the Wolves are bad on perimeter defense and exploited it often last year.
Trade No. 6: Trade Jonny Flynn. The most recent rumor was that the New York Knicks were interested in his services. I wish him the best, but there is a logjam with Rubio now in town.
Trade No. 7: Somehow, someway receive a first-round 2012 NBA Draft pick in return for something. Next year's class is loaded with talent, and the Wolves do not currently have a pick. The upcoming "Clippergeddon," as some have called it, needs to be hedged with another pick.
No matter what happens with this team, I will end up watching, but I would rather watch competent basketball.