For the first time in a long time, the Minnesota Timberwolves should feel confident that they’re moving in the right direction. But that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t aim to make a splash at the 2022 NBA Trade Deadline.
2022 NBA Trade Deadline: 3 splash trade ideas for the Timberwolves
The improvements that the Minnesota Timberwolves have made both on the court and in having a more accountable culture have the team in a decent position to make the playoffs for just the second time in the last 18 seasons.
That does not, however, mean the team should be satisfied and disregard making major changes. Two offseasons ago, the Suns and Bucks showed that rising teams can become elite quickly with aggressive moves such as those that brought in Chris Paul and Jrue Holiday, respectively. After all, ‘sometimes good’ really is the enemy of great.
The Timberwolves shouldn’t get complacent just because they’re currently the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference, but they also need to be confident a major move would accelerate their timeline. It’s also fair to say that Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards are untouchable and that it would take a lot to pry D’Angelo Russell from their grasp, so it could be hard to bring in top-flight talents.
With trade season upon us, here are the big-time deals Minnesota could strike to make noise now rather than later.
Simmons is the only player available to the Wolves on the market who is worth giving up Russell.
In September, yours truly outlined why Simmons and the Wolves were a virtually perfect fit for each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and plenty of that still rings true now. In short, Simmons provides a perfect defensive frontcourt partner next to Towns and would bring a jumbo playmaker to a team in need of strong passers, while the presence of Towns and Edwards alleviates concerns about Simmons’ shooting and self-creation.
The biggest complicating factor that has arisen since that article is the emergence of Jarred Vanderbilt, a major challenger to Simmons for the unofficial title of “Best defensive big to pair with Karl-Anthony Towns.” Of course, in this scenario, Minnesota keeps Vando, but are he and Simmons too redundant to work on the same team?
Then there’s the subtraction of Russell, who has been stellar as a leader between the lines and in the locker room and is starting to find an offensive groove. There would be concerns about filling that void with a player that has, uh, not as great a track record with his teammates in Simmons. That’s to say nothing of losing McDaniels, a high-upside forward who has slid into a bench role with grace while he continues to improve.
That all said, you have to give up something of substance to get something back. Simmons has made three All-Star games in four full seasons, has twice been named First-Team All-Defense and is one of the best passers in the league; players of that caliber don’t become available too often.