Minnesota Timberwolves dodged a bullet in avoiding Ben Simmons saga

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /
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Minnesota Timberwolves NBA Rumors D'Angelo Russell Ben Simmons
Mandatory Credit: Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports /

The proposed Timberwolves trade scenario that gained some traction

An October 15, 2021 article by Bleacher Reports Zack Buckley titled Last-Minute Trades to Improve Every NBA Team’s Starting Lineup had a trade for each NBA team that would, in Buckley’s view, improve that team. For the Minnesota Timberwolves, Buckley made the argument that Simmons was the piece that the T-Wolves needed.

In his article, Buckley proposed that the Minnesota Timberwolves offer PG D’Angelo Russell, PF Jaden McDaniels, the Timberwolves 2022 first-round pick (with Top-Three protection), a 2023 first-round pick swap, and the Timberwolves 2024 first-round pick. In return, the Philadelphia 76ers would trade PG/PF Ben Simmons. What would that look like?

That was the proposal, and it was made with a straight face. But to be fair, those were the scenarios that were taking off by many ‘trade for Ben Simmons’ speculative trades.

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While the Timberwolves appeared to be paying a king’s ransom in hindsight, Buckley argued in his article that that exchange was fair as the Timberwolves seemed to be getting more value at the time.

"‘The Wolves shouldn’t give up hope, either, that the trade market never breaks Philadelphia’s way, Simmons still demands a way out and this becomes the best offer on the table. All three things could happen and this is hardly an insulting offer, as Russell is a 25-year-old with an All-Star selection under his belt and McDaniels is a 21-year-old with a wealth of physical tools and a high two-way ceiling. Still, Simmons is a different caliber of player, which is why the Wolves should push so hard to get him. He’s such an extraordinary stopper that he could improve Minnesota’s dreadful defense a good deal on his own, and his vision would weaponize the many scoring threats on this roster.’ – Per Bleacher Report’s Zack Buckley"

Simmons did not play a single game throughout the 2021-22 NBA season. Nada. Zilch.

PG D’Angelo Russell was good for 18.1 PPG and 7.1 APG for the Timberwolves in 65 games this year. PF Jaden McDaniels was good for 9.2 PPG and 4.2 RPG for the Timberwolves in 70 games this year.

And then there is that trio of first-round draft picks that would be heading to the Philadelphia 76ers outright or as part of a swap option that could have been extremely costly to the Timberwolves.

While we can play the wudda, shudda, cudda game into the next millennia over the hope that a Timberwolves Simmons might have found the strength to return to the basketball court, the fact is that he didn’t return. The aftermath of the Ben Simmons-James Harden trade? They are now calling it a bust for both the Brooklyn Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers.