The Minnesota Timberwolves are battling to make their first playoff appearance since the 2003-04 season, but they are one significant roster move away from truly being contenders in the West.
They need to flip Michael Beasley and either return a solid two-guard for him, or at least get an attractive trading piece to land one before the March 15 trading deadline.
Beasley has been a subject of trade rumors all season long and it’s time for T’Wolves president David Kahn to find a suitor for the 23-year-old swingman before he’s stuck with him for the remainder of the year.
The former No. 2 overall pick is owed a reasonable $6.2 million this season and becomes a restricted free agent worth an $8.2 million qualifying tender over the summer.
He’s certainly valuable to a team like the Los Angeles Lakers, who have an $8.9 million trade exception at their disposal from the Lamar Odom deal and a dire need for an athletic wing.
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak reportedly rejected Minnesota’s offer of a first-round pick in exchange for B-EZ’s services, but they should not give up on finding a way to make a deal work or some other way to get him off their roster in exchange for an asset.
By doing so, they would have flexibility to go after an elite SG such as Jamal Crawford, who has been recently rumored to be available.
It would be the perfect fit for a franchise that is overachieving at every position except the two and also gives them a fearless veteran who excels in crunch time situations.
Another option for the Timberwolves would be to pick through the free-agent pile, but they likely aren’t going to find anyone better than Wesley Johnson, the incumbent starter who has been a disappointment since being drafted fourth overall in 2010.
Right now Johnson is playing at the three spot because the team has elected to start both Ricky Rubio and Luke Ridnour while Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic bang in the paint.
It’s certainly not an ideal starting five, although the team has been doing the best they can with the hand they've been dealt. However, no one can take them seriously come postseason time – if they even get there – if they trot that out.
This makes it imperative to move Beasley and add a legitimate SG before the deadline. Minnesota would be much better for it and could actually have a chance to surprise in the playoffs.