The Minnesota Timberwolves have a number of things on the table as we near Thursday’s NBA Trade Deadline. The option they should choose, however, is to stand pat.
If it takes a draft pick to get rid of Gorgui Dieng or Jeff Teague, do it, the thought goes. Sean Deveney of Sporting News suggested that the Wolves would be willing to trade Dario Saric for “a first-rounder and a player”, and the likes of Anthony Tolliver, Tyus Jones, Jerryd Bayless and others could also theoretically be on the block.
In the immortal words of Chuck from Forgetting Sarah Marshall, the Wolves must “do less”.
For as tempting as it might be for Minnesota to flip some of their assets for draft picks or short-term cap relief, they’re likely best-served to stand pat. Obvious exceptions apply, of course: shedding Dieng’s salary without attaching a draft pick would be a coup. Trading Teague would likely require some value in return given the Wolves’ dearth of healthy point guards, but that would be acceptable, too.
But the (at least perceived) ancillary pieces of the Wolves core group should be left untouched. Robert Covington‘s deal is a bargain over the next few years. Josh Okogie has shown flashes of being a valuable starter in the league. Tyus Jones could be retained in restricted free agency this summer.
This has been covered here before, but undervaluing Saric at this year’s trade deadline would be a mistake of colossal proportions.
To refresh your memory, Saric is still just 24 years old and remains one of the more versatile big men in the game today. At 6-foot-10, Saric can play the point forward and distribute the ball, pass deftly from any post position, and shoot the three at an above-average clip. He’s a decent rebounder and a solid all-around defender that has reasonable switchability on the perimeter.
Remember, Saric averaged 12.8 points and 6.3 rebounds as a rookie just two years ago and improved those numbers to 14.6 and 6.7 just last year on a Philadelphia team that advanced to the second round of the playoffs. Saric and Covington were included in the Jimmy Butler trade to equally contribute to the playoff push this year, but Saric’s ceiling and window of team control (he still has one more year on his rookie deal and will soon be eligible for an extension) is what made this deal so attractive for the future.
If Deveney’s report were to be true and if the Wolves shipped Saric out for a first-round pick, what are the odds that they’d get back a prospect of the caliber of Saric? Not to mention that Saric is a near-perfect fit alongside Towns, provided KAT can solve his fouling issues when matched-up against bigger centers, and that the duo can continue to grow together on defense.
But on offense, you couldn’t dream up a better compliment to Towns. The high-low passing we’ve seen in short spurts during Saric’s nearly three months in a Timberwolves uniform has been tantalizing, and the ability for each to score both inside and out is notable.
If the Wolves are able to move Teague or Dieng, or if they can pick up anything of value (read: draft picks) in exchange for the likes of Tolliver or Bayless, then they should make the deal.
But beyond that, the franchise could stand to stand pat this time around and let Ryan Saunders and the Saric-Towns core lead them toward the future.