The Minnesota Timberwolves traded Ricky Rubio to the Cleveland Cavaliers just prior to the NBA Draft, getting back forward Taurean Prince and a 2022 second-round pick.
There is a list of clear pros and cons to the deal as the Wolves try to set themselves up for what they hope will be a bigger move later in the offseason.
Con #1: Minnesota Timberwolves burn through trade asset for minimal return
The Timberwolves entered the offseason with hopes of landing a big-name star to add to their core of Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards, and D’Angelo Russell.
By taking those three players off the table in trade talks, it left only Malik Beasley and Rubio with salaries north of $7 million that could be included in a trade for an impact player.
It was always likely that Rubio would be moved this offseason, especially considering that his $17.8 million salary for 2021-22 is the final year on his deal. But it also seemed like the Wolves would hang onto him until an opportunity presented itself to move him as part of a larger deal, potentially to match salaries and provide an expiring contract in a three-team trade and/or a sign-and-trade opportunity.
Instead, the Timberwolves shipped out Rubio and his deal for a smaller expiring deal and only received a future second-round draft pick for their trouble.
This brings us to the second negative impact of the deal…
Con #2: The Minnesota Timberwolves have a sudden need to roster-balance
If the Wolves are unable to pull off a larger trade in the coming weeks, they’ll have added yet another forward with only one point guard on an NBA contract.
Saving roughly $4.8 million while depleting point guard depth and loading up on players who can play the 3 and the 4 isn’t ideal, especially when the player added is a below-average defender.
The Wolves already have Jaden McDaniels, Juancho Hernangomez, and Jake Layman under contract. All have played both the 3 and the 4 under Chris Finch. There’s also Jarred Vanderbilt, who is almost exclusively a 4 and is a restricted free agent that Minnesota would surely like to have back.
At point guard, the Wolves have Russell and new two-way contract signee and undrafted rookie McKinley Wright IV. That’s it.
Of course, more moves are supposed to be coming. But … what if they don’t happen?
Let’s look at the positives.