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, Aaron Gordon
ORLANDO, FLORIDA – NOVEMBER 15: Aaron Gordon #00 of the Orlando Magic between plays against the San Antonio Spurs. (Photo by Harry Aaron/Getty Images) /

Gordon & Augustin

While showing flashes of brilliance over his six seasons in the NBA, Aaron Gordon has yet to accept his potential niche as an athletic defensive stalwart.

As ESPN’s Zach Lowe has noted in both articles and podcasts over recent seasons, Gordon’s best role in the NBA is similar to Draymond Green, suited to focusing on defense while accepting a lesser status on offense. However, on an Orlando Magic squad lacking any real offense while Nikola Vucevic is out with a right ankle injury, Gordon continues to pursue a leading-scorer identity for a squad without offensive playmakers outside of Evan Fournier.

Through 22 games, Gordon is averaging 14 points per game, 7.1 rebounds per game, and is shooting 32 percent on threes for a Magic team that currently ranks No. 25 in points per 100 possessions and 28th in effective field goal percentage, per Cleaning the Glass.

Unable to ever truly live up to the hype as the No. 4 overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft, Gordon and the Magic seem to be nearing a split. With an excess of forwards and a lack of guards, the Magic appear ready to build around a young star in Jonathan Issac and the aforementioned Vucevic.

At 24 years old and on a great deal that pays him around $18 million and $16 million in the next two seasons, respectively, Gordon could flourish alongside dominant offensive players in Towns and Wiggins.

In Minnesota, Gordon would finally be able to start at the power forward position, a rare experience on Magic teams that have constantly rotated between an assortment of big men during Gordon’s six seasons. Next to Towns, Gordon could take Covington’s role as a switchable stretch-four that allows Towns to remain near the rim on defense while earning enough shots both inside and outside on offense.

In Covington, the Magic would create a fearsome defensive trio between he, Markelle Fultz, and Isaac, as Covington would return to his natural position of guarding opposing small forwards while Isaac could better defend power forwards with his 6-foot-10 height and 7-foot-1 wingspan. Covington’s shooting would also be a blessing to a lineup that has been reliant on Fournier and Vucevic to provide perimeter shooting since Fultz’s transition to the starting lineup.

With Minnesota’s first-round pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Magic would be receiving a possible lottery pick, depending on Minnesota’s performance following the trade, that has the potential to leap multiple spots in the draft order due to recent changes in the draft lottery system.

By exchanging the expiring contracts of Teague and Augustin, the Wolves receive an experienced guard that has averaged 11 points per game and has shot 42 percent on threes over the previous two seasons. Augustin’s leadership would be a meaningful addition for a Wolves locker room that would lose both Covington and Teague in such a trade.

In Teague, the Magic receive a guard that better fits their slow, methodical offensive system, as the Magic currently rank No. 28 in the NBA in pace, per NBA.com/stats.

Under Head Coach Steve Clifford, the Magic have focused on being a top-five defensive team while scrounging for points on the other end of the floor. With Teague, the Magic would have a leading guard off the bench that could maintain their current style of play and help lessen the load on players such as Fournier and Vucevic while being supported by the defensively-oriented role players surrounding him.

As a player that has shown signs of promise and could provide needed defensive relief as the third-best player on a Wolves squad led by Towns and Wiggins, Gordon is a potential star that has yet to discover the right fit on an NBA team.

If the Wolves could acquire a talent such as Gordon, the 24-year-old would be in line to create one of the most athletically-gifted trios in NBA history while allowing Rosas and the Wolves to continue pursuing a young starting point guard.

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But, as the clock winds down to the NBA trade deadline on Feb. 6, it will be up to Rosas to decide how he will make his mark on this perplexing 2019-20 Wolves season.