The Minnesota Timberwolves have secured their dynamic duo; now it's time to aggressively go after the third star: Devin Booker.
The Minnesota Timberwolves' future was looking pretty bleak less than 24 hours ago when they lost their 12th straight game to the struggling Atlanta Hawks on their home floor and their superstar center vented his frustrations about the organization.
However, Thursday's trade deadline deal for D'Angelo Russell has turned that all around as the Wolves have finally found their point guard of the future.
The pick-and-roll pairing of Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns will be close to unstoppable as they can pick apart a defense in so many different ways, and their chemistry off-the-court should help ease KAT's feelings about where the organization is going.
With Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors' win over the injury-riddled Warriors as the exception, recent NBA history tells us that having two stars is not enough to win a title. And while Towns and Russell will be incredibly fun to watch, they aren't at the level of those Kobe and Shaq teams that dominated the league in the early 2000's.
The Wolves need a third star, and no one knows that better than Gersson Rosas who comes from the Daryl Morey philosophy where acquiring as many stars as possible is the top priority.
Minnesota has an obvious target to add to their core of Russell and Towns, and they may have the assets to get a deal done.
We know that Towns and Russell already have a strong connection with Devin Booker as the trio was on the cover of SLAM magazine this summer, and they've been trying to speak into existence the thought of them teaming up together on an NBA team.
Gersson Rosas has already done half the job by acquiring Russell in a deal that was a landslide victory for the Wolves, but acquiring Devin Booker will be an even tougher challenge for Minnesota's front office.
Booker signed a five-year, $158.2 million max extension with the Suns in the summer of 2018 that just kicked in this season.
With Booker under team control through 2023-24, the Wolves are going to have to give up a lot for Phoenix to let him go.
The Wolves would likely have to send away their two most promising young players in this deal in Josh Okogie and Jarrett Culver, but the Suns ironically traded the pick that became Culver to Minnesota on draft night so they probably aren't too high on the former Texas Tech Red Raider's prospects.
The next-best assets on the team are Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez. Unfortunately neither of them are under contract for next year, and the Wolves have to wait to trade them for a certain period of time after they re-sign them.
With James Johnson being the salary that can help the Wolves get up to Devin Booker's number, Minnesota would fill out the rest of the deal with young players and draft picks.
The Wolves were able to keep Brooklyn's 2020 first-round pick as part of the Robert Covington trade, and that should fall somewhere between 15-20 in this year's draft. Unfortunately, Minnesota had to send their own 2021 first-round pick (top-three protected) to Golden State in the D'Angelo Russell trade.
The Wolves do have all of their own future draft picks outside of the 2022 second-round pick they dealt to the Warriors, so they could send as much draft capital as they need to get Phoenix to bite. However, I don't know if that number exists unless Booker plays his part by forcing his way out a la Anthony Davis.
Tom Thibodeau left the cupboard pretty bare for Gersson Rosas and Ryan Saunders, but they've done about as well as you could hope for in acquiring assets since they took over. A Devin Booker trade would be worth giving up every asset that they can in order to get a deal done.
Skeptics of this potential trio would say they would not be able to defend anybody, and they're probably right. But that team would have the number one center in offensive real plus-minus (by a mile) paired with the number three and number 11 shooting guards in that category, all of them are capable of playing off-the-ball because of their tremendous three-point shooting, and I would trust Rosas to surround them with enough strong defenders so that they wouldn't be an utter disaster on that end of the floor.
It remains a long shot that the Wolves could ever convince Phoenix to give up their superstar guard. But considering what Gersson Rosas has been able to do this offseason and at the trade deadline, he's the right man for the job.