3 bold trade ideas for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2020

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 26: Aaron Gordon #00 of the Orlando Magic dribbles the ball. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 26: Aaron Gordon #00 of the Orlando Magic dribbles the ball. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Justice Winslow
The Miami Heat’s Justise Winslow (20) looks on. (David Santiago/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images) /

Winslow, Dragic, & Olynyk

Unfortunately for Wolves fans, their best trade piece may also be their most valuable player.

Robert Covington has provided a maturity to the Timberwolves’ locker room that was desperately needed following its dismantling by the chaotic behavior of Jimmy Butler.

As a close friend of Towns, Covington helped stabilize and reinvigorate both the franchise and the franchise’s generational star. However, if the Wolves are planning on beginning another form of a rebuild, Covington will be the team’s best hope of receiving a substantial return.

On an excellent contract that pays him between $12 million and $13 million over the next two years, Covington provides value in a role every team covets. At 29 years old, Covington is averaging 12.5 points per game, 1.4 steals, and is shooting 36 percent on 5.8 3-point attempts per game while maintaining all-NBA defense at the forward position.

One contender that would benefit greatly from the arrival of Covington would be Butler’s Miami Heat.

At 18-7, the Heat currently sit third in the Eastern Conference standings and have an abundance of affordable contracts that would make a deal with any team possible.

But, an important note for the Heat and every other trade candidate is the looming free agents for the 2021 offseason. In two years, free agency could include a historic list of available players that includes LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Therefore, attractive destinations such as Miami will desire max cap space to provide a chance to sign another star player if the opportunity presents itself.

Thanks to Covington entering the final year of his deal during the 2021 offseason, the Heat could benefit from the playoff value he could immediately provide while profiting from the return they could receive if they decide to trade him between now and the summer of 2021.

For the Wolves to accommodate such a deal, the perks the Heat could provide would need to outweigh those of every other squad.

To entice the Wolves, the Heat would need to surrender a young player and accept one or two troublesome contracts because of the Stepien Rule limiting the Heat’s ability to trade any first round picks before 2025.

In return, the Wolves could receive a young player in Justise Winslow, as well as Goran Dragic‘s expiring contract in exchange for Teague and a swap of Kelly Olynyk for Gorgui Dieng.

Although Winslow’s 3-point shooting has fallen off this year, currently sitting at 23 percent, he has averaged 38 percent on 3’s over the previous two seasons and has continued to average 12.4 points per game, 7.1 rebounds per game, and 4.3 assists per game.

During the past season, the Heat experimented with Winslow at a point-forward position due to their lack of guards, which allowed Winslow a chance for greater pick-and-roll opportunities and provided the Heat with the luxury of placing Winslow’s solid defense on the opposing team’s lead ball-handler.

As the Wolves have transitioned to a similar starting lineup without a conventional point guard this season, Winslow would again be given a chance to share ball-handling duties with Wiggins, an opportunity he hasn’t been granted since the arrival of Butler.

In Dragic, the Wolves receive a point guard on an expiring deal that better fits their current system than Teague. Based on quickness and outside shooting, Dragic’s style of play would encourage a faster pace and greater ball movement among teammates.

In Olynyk, the Wolves receive a center that provides improvements in 3-point shooting and switchability on defense at a slightly lower cost than Dieng.

Overall, this deal would provide the Wolves with greater cap flexibility if they continue to pursue a star guard in free agency that can be paired with Towns, and they will be able to take a chance on a 23-year-old forward that has flashed potential in the past while receiving players that better fit their current offensive and defensive systems.