The trading deadline is a little over two and half months away, and the Wolves have only played 16 games, but it is never too early to speculate on player movement.
Before we get into the meat of the conversation, let me first start by saying this is not based on what other teams may need, or which player is “too good” for the Wolves. This is based on what we have seen so far with our squad and how our players have been playing. This is not based on any rumors and internet chatter or any insider information. This is purely thoughts for a slow day at work on the Friday after Thanksgiving – unless you work at a mall or Best Buy.
Candidate No. 1: Wayne Ellington*
Let’s go back and recap. Summer League for Ellington was everything a coach would want to see. Ellington proved he was more than “just a shooter”, could score varieties of ways and he rebounded well for a guard his size. He was named the starter for the first game of the season against the Kings and played 29 mins. He started a few more games and then the Corey Brewer/Wesley Johnson tango began and now Ellington is relegated to the end of the bench, has a fair share of DNPs, and has only recently found his way back to the court.
Ellington is skilled, is a decent athlete, and he is young. But at 6’4” he will struggle to guard bigger shooting guards and he cannot stay in front of most point guards. His youth and overall offensive game are assets which make him a piece that can work off the bench on a team like the Spurs, Bulls, or even New York. But in Minnesota, he gets lost in the shuffle behind Johnson and Brewer and has no chance to make a difference on the court.
The Wolves have stated they are not picking the option up on Corey Brewer, so the team may not let Ellington knowing Brewer is gone, one way or another.
Candidate No. 2: Corey Brewer*
Brewer is in the last year of his deal and the Wolves seem to moving on with Johnson as the starter. Last season, Brewer started every game, improved his shooting and provided Wolves-nation with many memorable moments including monster dunks and half court shots. But when the Wolves drafted Johnson at No. 4, and then Luke Babbitt, it looked as if his days were numbered then. Babbitt is now in Portland, and Brewer has been sharing time with Johnson and has even started a few games. So why would the Wolves trade him? First, they would get something in return, if even a second-round pick. Brewer plays hard, is improving his shot, plays tough defense, and always has a smile on his face. But he is not a value at his price tag.
The Wolves drafted him at No. 7 in the 2007 NBA draft, because of that; his current salary is higher than his value on this team. Brewer makes more than Kevin Love, Wesley Johnson, Luke Ridnour and Jonny Flynn.
Brewer has never a high-ceiling guy, but his defensive ability, his athleticism and the fact was a winner, made him worth the chance. If we were to ready the draft, there is not a team which would take him at No. 7. Not to say he is not a good player, but not the No. 7 pick. Typically players with his skill set and age come later in first round and even the second.
*Both Brewer and Ellington will move down the bench when Martell Webster returns.
He came over in the Ramon Sessions/Ryan Hollins deal with Sebastian Telfair, and has had a few moments. That is really about it.
When I watched Koufos in college, I really thought he should have stayed another year at Ohio State – which can be said for most seven-footers from OSU. But Koufos was very raw and had no game other than being bigger than more people.
Currently he is only playing 7.2 minutes per game and does not really have much of a role on the team at this point.
Honorable Mention: Sebastian Telfair
With injuries to both Luke Ridnour and Jonny Flynn, Telfair has played a good deal of minutes and has been pretty solid as a starter. Previously, I mentioned I would like to see the Wolves keep Telfair once Flynn gets back, and still think they will. But depending on his play, and spot in the rotation, the Wolves may find him expendable. Even the signing of Sudiata Gaines seems to be pushing Telfiar out the door.
That said, the Wolves have seen what it is like to rely on a non-point guard with Marice Ager earlier this season, which could have scared them enough into holding on to Telfair. If that is the decision and reasoning, I would not blame them at all.
That Being Said…
I would be surprised to see any deals done this season. Why? Early this season GM David Kahn took an a full-page ad out in the St. Paul Tribune and vaguely laid out the teams future plans in concerns to player movement with this statement;
The reality is, we are still lacking a dominant player – our version of Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade or Kevin Durant – and that will remain an item at the top of the To-Do list.
However, if one of our players fails to emerge, we will be prepared to find more talent for our team – and we will seek a singular move rather than a series of moves, as we did these last 14 months.
With Kahn laying out their desire to find their “Kobe”, a handful of close loses, and positives in player development and overall play, I can not think of a player other than Brewer who could be traded. Gaines could be cut, but not traded. There is not enough value there to make the trades worth while if we have to take back more salary and can not get draft picks.
The Wolves will have to do a in depth self evaluation to determine if the team is on pace for this season’s plan, and if they are, can the fans wait until next season when this team will add Ricky Rubio and hopefully a dominant player.
All of this would become irrelevant if there is a lockout next season. The lockout is something I hope to completely ignore and avoid, like feelings at family gathering. Just brush them under the rug and they will go away.