Minnesota Timberwolves: Trades that could have been, but didn’t happen

Jarrett Culver of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Jarrett Culver of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves stood pat at the 2021 NBA Trade Deadline, not making a single move.

It wasn’t all that shocking, given the latest updates we had on prevalent rumors in the 24 hours or so leading into the deadline. But still, for a front office who executed three trades in less than two days just last February, it was still a bit of a surprise.

There was at least one new rumor on Thursday, as well as some notable post-deadline comments from Gersson Rosas.

NBA Trade Deadline: Interest in Minnesota Timberwolves’ Jarrett Culver

In the hours before the deadline, The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski noted in his running trade deadline diary that “several teams” were interested in trading for Jarrett Culver (subscription required).

Krawczynski calls out the Cleveland Cavaliers as a particularly interested team. It’s worth mentioning that they were the team that was rumored to be selecting Culver with the No. 5 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, and the Wolves reportedly thought they’d be able to land Darius Garland at No. 6.

After the Wolves traded with Phoenix to get to No. 6, however, the Cavs picked Garland and Culver was left for the Timberwolves.

Among players on the Cavaliers roster whom the Wolves may have had an interest in, Larry Nance Jr. is the most obvious answer, given previous rumors that tied Minnesota to the athletic big man. Still, it would have undoubtedly cost at least one more player in addition to Culver, plus at least one future draft pick.

It’s still too early for the Wolves to sell-low on Culver for, say, a second-round pick. He’s still only 22 years old and has just 85 NBA games under his belt. Culver is also a solid defender and possesses plenty of upside, regardless of how poorly he’s played so far this season.

Don’t be surprised if Rosas trades Culver as part of a larger deal in the offseason. This just wasn’t the right time.

Rosas says Minnesota Timberwolves could have made “high-end trades”

While the Wolves weren’t active, that didn’t stop Rosas from dangling the nugget that the Timberwolves could have “executed high-end trades” at the deadline, but he didn’t want to pay the price in young talent.

Clearly, that reference is to rookies Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels. Culver, unfortunately, doesn’t fall in that category, and there isn’t another player on the roster that could reasonably be included in the near-untouchable category.

Now, the definition of “high-end trades” is up for plenty of interpretation, too. Could the Wolves have moved McDaniels for Norman Powell, who ultimately went from Toronto to Portland? Maybe. What about McDaniels and Rubio for Aaron Gordon, who was shipped to Denver? Probably.

But moves of that caliber would not have improved the Wolves clearly enough to justify pulling the trigger. The team with the league’s worst record is not in a position to move a 20-year-old rookie with lottery-worthy talent in a trade for a veteran wing or forward who could be gone by the summer of 2022 — or even sooner, in Powell’s case.

So, the Wolves stood pat. It’s not exciting, but it was almost certainly the right move.

Next. Pros and cons to the idea of a Wolves deadline trade. dark

The upcoming offseason, however, will almost certainly be a different story…