With a Jimmy Butler trade on the horizon and a regrettable contract on the roster, it’s time for the Minnesota Timberwolves to unload Gorgui Dieng.
We’re only a little over a week from the start of the 2018-19 season, and Minnesota Timberwolves fans are just as confused about what the lineup will look like as they were a month ago.
While the Jimmy Butler trade talk has boiled up and then died down while the Wolves were reportedly speaking with several teams, there is an underrated aspect of the trade that can’t be forgotten. In fact, in addition to what the Wolves can get for Jimmy Butler, it’s also about the opportunity to pass off Gorgui Dieng and his awful contract.
While Dieng is a serviceable player off the bench and a quality backup to Karl-Anthony Towns, his contract is one of the worst in the league. It is something that not only impacts the Timberwolves this season, but will sink them for the next few seasons, preventing them from building around their newly-extended centerpiece in Towns.
Dieng’s play has been lackluster every season and is something that appears to be trending downward. Last season showed his lack of importance as the Timberwolves had their most successful season with Dieng contributing the least amount of his career. Averaging 5.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, and less than one block, assist and steal a night through 79 games is end-of-the-bench territory — let alone for a player making over $15 million and a deal that will climb to over $17 million in the 2020-2021 season.
Although Dieng was a pleasant surprise as a starter early on in his career and showed promise as a defensive-minded player who can round out the offense when needed, he has been less important to his team every passing season. His play has always been more of a role-player’s style as a big man producing only 10 points and 7.9 rebounds during his best season in 2016-17.
While we are in the era of overpaying players, the contract given to him was clearly one of the worst the Timberwolves have dolled out over the years (and that’s saying a lot given their contract history).
Seeing Jimmy Butler go for pieces not of equal value would be sad to see given the level of player he is. But the bait can be used to attach contracts that the Wolves need to get rid of as soon as possible. If a team is willing to take on a player that will give back decent value off the bench, despite the money he will make doing so, the Timberwolves need to pounce.
The longer that Minnesota waits to unload Dieng, the tougher it will get to move him. It’s time to put the ego aside and make a deal, Tom Thibodeau.