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, Fred VanVleet
OAKLAND, CA – JUNE 7: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors handles the ball. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images) /

VanVleet & Powell

Through 22 games, Fred VanVleet has emerged as a franchise pillar for the Toronto Raptors, and as an unrestricted free agent in the upcoming 2020 offseason, he will be paid as such.

Following Kawhi Leonard’s departure to Los Angeles after delivering Toronto its first NBA championship, VanVleet was moved to the the starting lineup as part of a backcourt tandem alongside Kyle Lowry.

In this starting role, VanVleet has flourished, averaging 18 points, seven assists, two steals per game, and is shooting 40 percent on 6.7 3-point attempts per game. Before suffering a knee injury that has caused him to miss the last two games, VanVleet has been a consistent playmaker for the Raptors, supporting Raptors’ big men Marc Gasol and MVP candidate Pascal Siakam with his off-ball movement and craftiness in the pick and roll.

A possible all-star in the Eastern Conference, VanVleet is likely to receive a contract this summer that exceeds $100 million. As a contender that has been linked as a suitor for Giannis Antetokounmpo for the 2021 offseason, the Raptors will want to maintain as much cap flexibility as possible over upcoming seasons.

If the Raptors are not satisfied with their current chances at repeating as NBA champions, and they are unhappy with potential offers for veterans such as Lowry, Gasol, or Serge Ibaka, the Raptors may begin listening to offers for VanVleet.

As a team lacking a natural primary ball-handler and featuring role players that could entice the Raptors, the Wolves are a possible fit for VanVleet.

In a potential deal for VanVleet, the Wolves would also receive Norm Powell’s remaining two years years at an average annual value (AAV) around $11 million in exchange for Covington and the 2019 sixth-overall pick, Culver.

Covington would likely give the Raptors the best defense in the NBA, as they currently rank fourth in the NBA in opponents’ points per 100 possessions and 1st in opponents’ effective field goal percentage, per Cleaning the Glass.

Culver could also be seen as a prospect that may flourish under a developmental program that has seen incredible leaps in production from raw players such as VanVleet, Siakam, and OG Anunoby.

In VanVleet, the Wolves would finally have a guard who fits a timeline with Towns while providing a positive impact on both ends of the court, an important aspect worth monitoring in prospective deals for offensively-focused guards such as D’Angelo Russell.

Powell can provide value at his AAV of $11 million, as he is currently averaging 13.7 points per game and shooting 36 percent on shots behind the arc. However, hopes for any such deal hinge on both the Wolves being confident that VanVleet is a star they are willing to pay more than $100 million and that they will be able to entice VanVleet to stay and form a formidable trio with Towns and Wiggins.

At 25 years old, questions remain about whether VanVleet will be able to maintain his current career-high production as a starting point guard facing difficult matchups with the elite guards of the Western Conference.

But, VanVleet is a guard who has championship experience, has demonstrated an ability to get the ball to big-men stars while operating effectively off the ball, and has shown growth throughout each year of his career. If the Wolves believe they can land a guard of VanVleet’s ilk and persuade him to stay in Minnesota long term, then they must strike while the iron is still hot.