Minnesota Timberwolves: 5 dream trades for star players

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Karl Anthony-Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The Minnesota Timberwolves want to make the 2021 playoffs. What dream -scenario trades could Gersson Rosas make that would get them there?

With the addition of D'Angelo Russell at the trade deadline, the Minnesota Timberwolves look like they will be vying for a playoff spot as early as the 2020-21 season.

The tandem of Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns looks as good as any young duo in the NBA, but as we've seen so far in the Gersson Rosas era the front office will continue to make moves that best fit the team for both the present and future.

With that said, this exercise is going to look at what would be considered "dream" offseason trades. These trades would be considered blockbuster moves and while they seem far-fetched at first glance, they may be more realistic than one may think.

Minnesota has been stuck in the bottom half of the Western Conference ever since Kevin Garnett was traded to the Boston Celtics, save for making the playoffs in 2018 with Jimmy Butler leading the way. The Wolves finally have the opportunity to dig themselves out with two All-Star-caliber players and will look to capitalize on their window.

There are two directions that make the most sense to reach relevancy: bring in another young talent that coincides with KAT and DLo's timeline to develop a "Big 3," or trade for a veteran who is consistently playing in the playoffs.

This exercise will take a look at moves that involve both avenues.

Spoiler alert: Devin Booker is not included. While he is best friends with Towns and Russell, he does not necessarily fit the Wolves roster as he would be another minus-defender and he needs the ball in his hands to be a threat offensively, similar to Russell.

In this exercise we will operate under the following expectations:

  • James Johnson opts into his player option for 2020-21
  • Malik Beasley signs a four-year, $18 million-per-season contract
  • Beasley is willing to accept a sign-and-trade
  • Minnesota's 2021 first-round pick will convey to Golden State, meaning they are unable to also trade their 2022 first-round pick

Jonathan Isaac

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Jonathan Isaac #1 of the Orlando Magic. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Minnesota Timberwolves: 5 dream trades for star players

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Jonathan Isaac

Orlando Magic LogoMagic

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Jarrett Culver
Jaylen Nowell
2020 first-round pick (via Brooklyn)
2023 1st Rd Pick (Top 5 Protected)

*Magic also acquires a 2023 first-round pick (top-five protected)*

Why the Wolves Accept This Trade

The Timberwolves are currently looking for Karl-Anthony Towns' frontcourt partner of the future.

KAT has started next to multiple different types of power forwards throughout his career, including Gorgui Dieng, Taj Gibson, Nemanja Bjelica, Robert Covington, and most recently, Juancho Hernangomez.

These players are all good in their own right but none were a perfect fit next to Towns. They either did not provide enough spacing for KAT or were not good interior defenders.

Enter Jonathan Isaac. Isaac has the rare ability to be one of the top shot-blockers in the league and still spread the floor on offense.

The former Florida State Seminoles' potential on defense is incredible. The 6-foot-11 forward boasts a 7-foot-1 wingspan and is able to comfortably guard four positions on the court. Isaac has improved his defensive numbers each year he's been in the league, including averaging 2.4 blocks per game so far in 2019-20, even while playing out of position at the small forward.

Along with his defense improving each season, the third-year man's offensive numbers have gone up each year as well.

Isaac is averaging 12 points per game and has the ability to stretch his game to the 3-point line. While he has only shot 33 percent from three so far this season, he's shown that he is willing to shoot from range and would have more opportunities to let it fly playing for the Wolves. Isaac would also be a perfect third option on offense behind KAT and D'Angelo Russell, as he does not need the ball in his hands to make a difference, owning a career usage of only 16.6 percent.

The main concerns with Isaac are his ability to stay on the floor and his low efficiency. Both point back to him only weighing 210 pounds, as he takes a beating against bigger forwards and does not finish well through contact. As Isaac continues to gain weight and strength, his injury and efficiency concerns should go away.

The Wolves would ultimately be willing to look past Isaac's injury history in order to pair him with KAT. Losing Culver after one season would be hard for the Wolves' front office to swallow, but Isaac is too good of a fit for Minnesota to pass up.

The young core of DLo, KAT, and Isaac would be intriguing and gives them more of a defensive identity they currently do not have.

Why the Magic Accept This Trade

Orlando has a logjam in their frontcourt and has been forced to play Jonathan Isaac out of position all season.

The Magic made the playoffs last season and are well on their way to make it again in the weaker Eastern Conference this season, but remain in basketball purgatory. They are good enough to make the playoffs as a low seed but don't have the star power to do much damage once there.

Ultimately, the Magic are going to have to make the decision between Isaac's defensive potential or Aaron Gordon's all-around game. It looks as though Gordon has seemingly hit a wall in his development but still has room to grow at 24 years old and Orlando will be able to receive more assets by trading Isaac while being able to avoid losing him in free agency for nothing.

Losing both Culver and Jaylen Nowell would be a hard pill to swallow for the Wolves as they were first two draft picks in the Gersson Rosas era, but it is important to get a player with Isaac's potential.

Culver is the centerpiece for the Magic and is a much better fit on their current roster. He will slot in well next to Markelle Fultz, Gordon, and Mo Bamba on the wing going forward.

While Culver did having growing pains through his rookie season, he did show improvement after the deadline. Orlando has also shown the willingness to take on a player who did not meet expectations coming into the league in Fultz and revitalize his career.

The two first-round draft picks give the Magic the opportunity to build up their young core. This year's pick via Brooklyn especially is valuable to Orlando to allow them to find a 3-and-D type wing.

Nowell is also a player that can develop into that 3-and-D player at the shooting guard position. He would have the ability to slot in as the backup two-guard behind Evan Fournier as early as next season.

Ultimately, the Magic will be receiving a young started in Culver, a player who can grow into a rotational piece in Nowell, and two first-round picks that gives Orlando flexibility in the future.

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Myles Turner

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Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves battles for a rebound with Myles Turner #33 and Thaddeus Young #21 of the Indiana Pacers. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Minnesota Timberwolves: 5 dream trades for star players

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Myles Turner

Indiana Pacers LogoPacers

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Malik Beasley
Omari Spellman
2020 first-round pick (via Brooklyn)

Why the Wolves Accept This Trade

Myles Turner was reportedly on the trading block before the trade deadline this past season but the Pacers did not find a suitable package in return. With Indiana now turning to Domantas Sabonis as their big man going forward, Indiana will likely be more aggressive moving Turner this offseason.

Like Isaac, Myles Turner would give the Timberwolves an interior presence defensively they do not have right now. He is also able to stretch the floor on the offensive end.

Unlike Isaac, Turner has spent his whole career up to this point at center. It would be a transition for Turner to move to the power forward spot but he seems to have the tools to make the move.

What separates Turner from Isaac is he has already established himself as a quality NBA player, especially defensively. Turner led the entire league in blocks per game with 2.7 and has finished in the top 10 every season he has been in the league outside his rookie year.

Offensively, Myles has averaged 12.7 points per game for his career. He has doubled his career 3-point attempts this season compared to the rest of his career, shooting 4.2 per game.

Turner's biggest concerns stem from his lack of playmaking, dishing out just 1.2 assists per game through six seasons, and the notion that his progress as a player has seemed to have stagnated. The Timberwolves would not need to rely on Turner as a playmaker with DLo on the roster, and while it's disappointing that Turner may not ever turn into one of the top frontcourt players in the league, Turner would fit seamlessly next to Towns and Russell.

Turner is also on a team-friendly four-year, $80 million deal. This allows Rosas to find more quality players for the Wolves moving forward, whereas Isaac will likely be more expensive once it is time to extend him.

Why the Pacers Accept This Trade

As stated above, Indiana has made it clear their big man of the future is Sabonis. This means that their best option moving forward is to find the most value for Turner. Unfortunately for Indiana, the other teams around the league know this also so they may not get as much in return as they would like.

Being able to acquire Malik Beasley through a sign-and-trade, Omari Spellman, and a mid-first-round draft pick via Brooklyn may be the best offer they can receive for Turner.

This is still a good haul, and Indiana should be happy with this return as it provides spacing for Sabonis and players who can grow with Indiana's young core.

Beasley would provide spacing for Sabonis. He shot over 42 percent from three this season and proved he can stay efficient with a larger sample size. He could fit in well next to Malcolm Brogdon and Victor Oladipo in the Pacer's backcourt.

Spellman hasn't worked out so far in Minnesota, still not appearing in a Wolves uniform. He still has potential, however, and Indiana would have the flexibility to start him next to Sabonis or as the backup center. Indiana does not have a lot of depth up front, making Spellman a good addition and bringing more shooting from their big men.

This trade would provide Indiana with a young sharpshooter who has the potential to be much more, a young frontcourt player who could be inserted in the starting lineup next to Sabonis, and a first-round pick that would provide much-needed depth for a team looking to take the next step in the Eastern Conference.

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Chris Paul

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Chris Paul #3 of the Oklahoma City Thunder. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

Minnesota Timberwolves: 5 dream trades for star players

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Chris Paul

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Malik Beasley
James Johnson
2020 first-round pick (via Brooklyn)

Why the Wolves Accept This Trade

Chris Paul has consistently been one of the best point guards in the NBA since entering the league in 2005, and while it was expected he would lose a step this season he is still leading the surprising Oklahoma City Thunder to the No. 5 seed in the tough Western Conference. Along the way, Paul is still putting up averages of 17.7 points, 6.8 assists, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.6 steals.

Adding CP3 would allow the Wolves to move DLo to the shooting guard spot, which seems to be his most natural position. Russell has spent the majority of his career at point guard but he has played next to another point guard in Spencer Dinwiddie during his time in Brooklyn and has shown he is capable of playing at a high level at the 2.

Paul has also played most of his career as the only point guard on the floor. However, with the Oklahoma City Thunder he has played all but 27 minutes next to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Dennis Schröder, or both. His assist numbers have been down this season, but his field goal percentage is the highest it's been since the 2009-10 season, and not having to bring up the ball has allowed him to put in more effort defensively.

Paul would bring much-needed help to the Wolves defensively. The Timberwolves need more players who are good point-of-attack defenders, and that is exactly what Paul is. CP3 has been a positive-defensive player every year he has been in the league and is incredible at collecting steals. He has been in the top 15 in steals every season, including top-3 eight times and currently sits eighth all-time in total steals.

The biggest challenge for the Wolves in a trade for Paul is filling out the rest of the roster; just under $100 million would be used on CP3, KAT, and DLo. However, if the Wolves are serious about winning and making the playoffs, they need to take risks and Paul is worth the risk. After all, he has made the playoffs in 11 of his past 12 seasons.

Why the Thunder Accept This Trade

Chris Paul will be entering next season at the age of 35. While he did not lose a step as expected, it is bound to happen soon. There is also the issue of $85.5 million over the course of the final two years of his contract and moving on from Paul for younger assets makes a lot more sense than keeping him.

Adding Beasley to their roster gives the Thunder flexibility in the backcourt. The Thunder have the option to move Schröder into the starting lineup, keep Gilgeous-Alexander at the 2, and start Beasley at the small forward spot. Or, keep Schröder on the bench, move Gilgeous-Alexander to the starting point guard spot, and slot Beasley in at the 2. Both lineups would be lethal and provide the Thunder with playmaking and shooting.

While James Johnson is added in the trade to make the money work he can provide OKC with a starting power forward in place of Danilo Gallinari if he decides to leave in free agency or a backup big who provides toughness and shooting. If Oklahoma City decides to move on from JJ they would have the ability to garner even more assets in a possible trade to a contending team as Johnson is on an appealing expiring contract.

CP3 is still one of the top point guards in the game but given his age and contract, he is a tough move for the Thunder. Being able to receive a young sharpshooter, a rugged frontcourt player, and another first-round pick to their already impressive stash of future draft picks would be a good haul for the future Hall-of-Famer.

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Ben Simmons

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Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Minnesota Timberwolves: 5 dream trades for star players

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Ben Simmons

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Jarrett Culver
Malik Beasley
2020 first-round pick
2023 1st Rd Pick

*76ers also acquire 2023 first-round pick and 2025 first-round pick*

Why the Wolves Accept This Trade

Simply put, Ben Simmons is one of the best young playmakers in the NBA today. The skillset he displays both offensively and defensively are rare, and especially standing 6-foot-10.

Simmons has career averages of 16.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 1.7 steals, and 0.8 blocks while shooting 56 percent from the floor. Having the opportunity to play next to Towns and Russell would seemingly open up Simmons' game even more as he would have more space to operate.

Like with Paul, having Simmons on the Wolves roster would allow Russell to play shooting guard. Simmons provides playmaking every team looks for while Russell would be able to continue to excel as a pick-and-roll ball-handler and continue to refine his catch-and-shoot game.

On the defensive side, Simmons is a nightmare for offenses as he skies over opposing point guards. He would provide a point-of-attack defender the Wolves currently do not have. Simmons is also able to confidently guard all five positions on the floor.

The biggest issue with Simmons is his shooting. In today's game not being able to spread the floor can cause issues, but Simmons recently addressed the issue.

“I know it’s going to come. It’s a matter of me being comfortable doing it. Some of that is getting the reps in. I can take a hook shot from the elbow, because I’ve done it so many times, I’m confident it will go in. It’s second nature… With 3s, it’s never been like that. I’ve got to make it a point of emphasis. I could be one of those guys shooting 30% right now. But I’d rather be one of those guys shooting 40%.”

It's not often that a player of Simmons caliber is made available. The Timberwolves have the opportunity to put together a package where they can attain Simmons, which gives the Wolves arguably the best young core in the NBA inTowns, Russell, and Simmons.

Why the Sixers Accept This Trade

Coming into the 2019-20 season, the Philadelphia 76ers were viewed as a championship contender. However, they have disappointed to this point and are currently sitting as the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference.

It has come apparent that the cornerstones of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are simply not a good fit next to each other. Therefore, the Sixers are going to have to choose who to build around.

While Embiid has always been surrounded by health concerns, the Sixers will be more willing to build around him as he is a top-three player at his position and it is more likely Philadelphia can attain more assets by dealing Simmons.

Trading Simmons leaves a hole at the point guard position for the Sixers. This is where Jarrett Culver can make a difference, as he has refined his skills at the position through his first season. Culver has had some low points learning the point guard position in the NBA, but he has improved as the season has progressed proving he is capable of leading a team like Philly who has championship aspirations in the near future.

Beasley is another young player who has the ability to start right away for the 76ers or come off the bench, providing quality depth. Beasley is a perfect fit next to Embiid as he does not need the ball in his hands to make a difference on the court and is a top-level shooter.

Altogether, the Sixers receive a package that sets them up for both the present and the future in two potential starters in Culver and Beasley and three overall first-round picks.

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Bradley Beal

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Bradley Beal #3 of the Washington Wizards in action while Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves defends. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

Minnesota Timberwolves: 5 dream trades for star players

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Bradley Beal
Isaac Bonga

Washington Wizards LogoWizards

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Jarrett Culver
Malik Beasley
Omari Spellman

*Wizards also receive 2020 first-round pick, 2023 first-round pick, and 2022 second-round pick (via Denver or Philadelphia)*

Why the Wolves Accept This Trade

Bradley Beal's name has continuously been on the trading block since the start of the 2019 offseason.

The two-time All-Star has a unique skillset that any team in the league would love to acquire. Unfortunately for Beal, his running mate of John Wall has been injury-plagued and has caused the Washington Wizards to be a middle-of-the-pack team in the Eastern Conference.

Beal is an incredible offensive player, putting up averages of 21 points and four assists on 45 percent shooting and 38 percent from deep so far through his career. His game would open up playing next to Towns and Russell, while also providing space for the Towns-Russell pick-and-roll.

Defensively, Beal isn't at the level of Paul and Simmons, but he is not a liability on that side of the ball. This is a win for a Minnesota team that has had well-documented struggles when it comes to defense. Beal also has the opportunity to continue to grow on defense as he will be 27 entering next season, and his best defensive seasons took place while playing for Wizards teams battling for playoff positions in the East.

Overall, Beal is a top-level player that does not become available often. Minnesota should jump at the opportunity to bring in a third star next to KAT and DLo.

Isaac Bonga is another young player who could provide Minnesota with depth on the wing. He fits into the Wolves' offensive scheme as he can stretch the floor, shooting 40 percent so far this season, and has the ability to develop into a quality defender as he has impressive size and length.

Why the Wizards Accept This Trade

Washington has a mix of All-Stars in Beal and Wall and young players with potential. However, with the serious injury to John Wall's Achilles tendon in 2019, the Wizards look like they are best off rebuilding for the future.

Beal is a perennial All-Star, meaning he does not exactly fit into the Wizards timeline. Now is the time to cash in on his value.

Acquiring Culver and Beasley provides Washington with young talent that fits in with the current roster. Culver is a playmaker who has improved throughout his rookie season. He can develop into a playmaking guard/wing with game-changing defensive play.

Beasley has proved he can continue to shoot efficiently with increased playing time along with off-the-dribble playmaking we have not seen from him before. He can step in right away as the starting shooting guard for the Wizards.

Along with two young players who still have a lot of potential the Wizards secure three draft picks in the trade. This is important for a rebuilding team that will be looking to build for the future.

Next: 3 biggest questions for the Timberwolves

Sure, many of the above trades may seem unlikely, but it's hard to call them unrealistic. But is that not, at least in part, the beauty of dreams?