Minnesota Timberwolves: Reviewing the state of the franchise

Karl Anthony-Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Karl Anthony-Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards
Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /

It seems like forever ago that the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Denver Nuggets in a win-or-go-home contest that caused an unfamiliar excitement among Wolves fans: their squad had made the playoffs.

After acquiring All-Star Jimmy Butler in the summer of 2017, the Timberwolves went 47-35 and were in the postseason for the first time since the KG era, 14 years prior. Even though they were quickly defeated the Houston Rockets in five first-round games, Wolves fans finally felt like the franchise was turning around and would no longer be a perennial basement-dweller of the NBA.

But that was only three years ago. Gone are Butler and former franchise cornerstone Andrew Wiggins. Chris Finch is the third coach in as many seasons since the team made the playoffs,  and the current Wolves roster sits at 7-29, good for dead-last in the NBA.

What happened and what is next for the franchise?

The state of the Minnesota Timberwolves: How did we get here?

The 2020-21 season was supposed to be a payoff for all the work Gerson Rosas has done in assembling this team since he was hired in May of 2019.

Rosas has already pulled myriad trades, including a four-team deal that sent away Robert Covington and brought in current rotation pieces Malik Beasley, a Most Improved Player award candidate, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Juancho Hernangomez. He also sent out former No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins in exchange for former No. 2 pick and one-time All-Star D’Angelo Russell.

In his first year on the job, Rosas showed he was not afraid to be aggressive to build the roster that he wanted. In the most recent offseason, Rosas brought back fan-favorite Ricky Rubio among other fringe moves, largely to provide a veteran presence to the young Wolves.

Pairing franchise center Karl-Anthony Towns with his longtime friend in Russell was a move made by Rosas to, at least in part, get Towns to stay in the Twin Cities.

Unfortunately, the Timberwolves this season have been playing like their doing everything they can to get the franchise center to leave.

Reviewing what’s gone wrong for the Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves started this season by winning their first two games, including a statement win over the now Western Conference-leading Utah Jazz. After that, however, the wheels started to fall off.

Towns suffered a dislocated wrist against the Jazz and was sidelined for a few weeks. He returned for two games against Spurs and Grizzlies in January only to contract COVID-19 and be sidelined once again before a Feb. 10 return to action.

As of now, Towns has only played in 16 of a possible 36 games this season. Having your franchise player sidelined this long is a big hit to any team, not to mention extended absences by Jarrett Culver and Juancho Hernangomez, but surely having another former All-Star in Russell, this year’s No. 1 pick in Anthony Edwards, and an instant-offense player in Malik Beasley was enough to keep the Timberwolves sniffing around a playoff spot right?