As first reported by Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports, the Minnesota Timberwolves are set to move forward Derrick Williams to the Sacramento Kings in return for swingman Luc Mbah a Moute.
Clearly, the Wolves have been trying to trade the former #2 overall pick for quite some time. That being no secret, it isn’t a shock that Minnesota was forced to sell low on Williams. It’s impossible to argue that holding onto the consensus 2nd-best player in the 2011 draft for 2+ largely unproductive seasons while watching his value erode was the best use of an asset.
Alright, we get it. The ROI on Derrick Williams is nowhere near ideal. So what do we have in Mbah a Moute, the former Milwaukee Buck and Kevin Love’s Final Four teammate with UCLA?
Well, I’m actually quite pleased with this return. Mbah a Moute does not fit the number one requirement for wings in Rick Adelman’s offense (three-point shooting), but he does fit the other vital component: defensive ability. Defense is the one thing that Mbah a Moute is well above-average at, and it ‘s a skill that the Wolves are sorely lacking from the team as a whole.
One clear downside to the acquisition is Mbah a Moute’s injury issues. In fact, Spears reports that there is enough concern that the physical to be conducted on Tuesday is still a significant hurdle that has yet to be cleared. Mbah a Moute has apparently been having knee issues since the preseason, but according to Spears, “it was to be real bad for Wolves not to do it [sic].”
Contract-wise, the Wolves will save a very small amount in swapping the two contracts. After picking up Williams’ 2014-15 option, he is owed more than $6.3 million next year, which is another reason why the Wolves should be thankful for Mbah a Moute in return. Not many teams were champing at the bit to take on that kind of money for a marginally productive player. Mbah a Moute is owed a little more than $4.3 million next season.
One thing that Mbah a Moute will not help a whole lot with is the severe offensive issues that the Wolves’ bench unit continues to have. But defense has also been an issue for the reserves, and Mbah a Moute will undoubtedly shore that side of the court up significantly. Once Budinger returns, a second unit that can run with Barea, Budinger, Mbah a Moute, Cunningham, and Turiaf will be more than respectable.
So yes, be disappointed in the Wolves for their return on the #2 overall pick of the 2011 draft. That’s a legitimate complaint. Given what his perceived value is as of today, November 25, 2013, this is a fine return. Mbah a Moute can play rotational minutes on a playoff team. As far as we know (and regarding how the Wolves’ roster is currently constructed), Williams cannot.
And at the end of the day, it’s nice that the above is a relevant concern when debating the home squad’s transactions. Which, in light of recent (all?) Timberwolves history, is something for which to be thankful.