The NBA Trade Deadline is fast approaching, and with that in mind here's a look at the Minnesota Timberwolves' most likely candidates to be traded.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are expected to be active in the trade market ahead of the February 6th trade deadline. That's largely because of where the team sits at this point in the season at 15-32 and sitting 14th in the Western Conference standings.
The team also owns the fifth-worst record in the NBA, placing ahead of only the Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers and the New York Knicks. There shouldn't be any reason this team should be behind the Washington Wizards or the Charlotte Hornets, especially knowing they have a player like Karl-Anthony Towns and a much-improved Andrew Wiggins.
It's still possible that Minnesota could make the playoffs, but their recent 10-game losing skid has made that dream highly unlikely. With that, they should be going into the deadline making moves that will allow them to have a better offseason and go into the summer with a clear goal in mind.
They could do that by loading up on future assets and cutting salary or making a splash at the trade deadline to add a major piece that could help them long-term.
The team is also expected to be active because they have Gersson Rosas operating the team. Coming from the Daryl Morey tree, Rosas is not afraid to make major moves if he thinks it's best for the organization. Minnesota has already made one deal this season, trading away Jeff Teague and Treveon Graham for Allen Crabbe.
While the move isn't necessarily a big one, it shows the Timberwolves didn't see Teague in their long-term plans and found more value in Crabbe who can shoot the ball - showing fans they're not going to steer away from the three-point shot, despite owning the second worst three-point shooting percentage in the NBA at 32.8 percent.
With that, here are three players that are most likely to be traded ahead of the February 6th NBA trade deadline.
3. Gorgui Dieng
Dieng signed a four-year, $62.8 million deal during the summer of 2017. With the expected rising salary cap and the fact that Gorgui was a solid starter at the time, it didn't seem like a terrible contract.
After receiving that deal, the Timberwolves signed Taj Gibson and that caused former head coach Tom Thibodeau to push Dieng to the bench. The former Louisville Cardinal has not done a good job coming off the bench and has played at a much higher level when inserted in the starting lineup.
- Starter: 25.7 MPG, 13.1 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.2 SPG, 1.1 BPG, 47.3 FG%, 40.8 3P%
- Bench: 12.0 MPG, 4.0 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 0.9 PG, 0.8 BPG, 0.6 SPG, 39.4 FG%, 34.1 3P%
The numbers are significantly lower when Gorgui comes off the bench, and he's a liability when playing at that level. Dieng's play has played better this season, and a large part of that improvement has been his three-point shooting ability.
With today's game evolving, having a big man who can stretch the floor is an important factor to a team's success. Dieng could be moved this trade deadline in part because he has shown the ability to shoot the three-ball and defend at a pretty high level. Plus, his contract makes it easier to match salaries in a potential trade, and he has about a year-and-a-half left on his current deal.
2. Josh Okogie
Minnesota drafted Josh Okogie with the 20th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft because they saw his ability to defend the ball and play with high energy.
Okogie has done a good job fitting that role and has become a fan favorite when he's making defensive stops, throwing down highlight dunks, or showing all-out hustle. However, he's been a disappointment offensively thus far in his career.
There was hope that he could potentially shoot the ball from three after he was able to knock down 38.2 percent of his shots from distance in two years at Georgia Tech. That could still come to fruition down the line, especially since his shot has the right motion and mechanics.Related Story:3 shooters the Timberwolves could acquire on the cheap
Even with his offense still being in question, Okogie will last a long time in this league solely based on his ability to bring energy and play defense each and every night. That will be of value for playoff teams, who will be targeting players who can defend or come off the bench and bring instant offense.
Okogie still has upside at only 21 years old and playing in just his second season in the NBA. Plus, being on a rookie contract will be important to every team around the league as many of them are near the salary cap.
With upside to potentially blossom into a better offensive player, a cheap contract, and the ability to bring a defensive presence, Okogie proves to be a trade candidate worth watching.
1. Robert Covington
Robert Covington is one of the most of sought-out players ahead of the trade deadline, if not the most. Ben Cohen of The Wall Street Journal notes that there are several teams eyeing the forward, and many other reporters around the league believe the same.
Because he is a hot commodity around the league, the price for Robert Covington is going to be high. Covington will be valued around the league because of his ability to be a three-and-D player.
This season he's been hit or miss, but overall his play has been at a high enough level to catch the eyes of contending teams. He also has a strong track record with that three-and-D skillset. This season the forward is averaging 12.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.6 steals and 0.9 blocks per game.
He's also shooting the ball at 43.7 percent from the field and 34.8 percent from three-point range. His three-point percentage has dropped about three-to-five percentage points from last season - depending on whether one looks at his time with the Philadelphia 76ers or the Timberwolves.
Covington is 29 years old and coming off of a knee surgery that sidelined him for a large part of last season. However, RoCo has been relatively healthy this season, which should bode well for his trade value.
His ability to stretch the floor and play strong wing defense is a major asset in today's NBA, and his contract is also one of the best in the league. Covington still has two years left on his contract and won't be an unrestricted free agent until the summer of 2022. Priced at a little over $12 million per year, the former Tennessee State product has a valuable contract with the NBA's current salary cap.
Minnesota has plenty of options before the February 6th trade deadline. They will most likely be active and should be because of where the season has gone. Going into the offseason with more flexibility and some potential future assets added to this young core will be a major goal this trade season.