What if Minnesota Timberwolves fall below .500 by NBA Trade Deadline?

Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Timberwolves are falling in the NBA standings again, currently immersed in a four-game losing streak after a one-point loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. With the Timberwolves facing the Milwaukee Bucks (22-12) and the Detroit Pistons (9-28), the team could enter 2023 with a record of 17-20 or perhaps even 16-21.

With the NBA Trade Deadline (Feb. 9: NBA trade deadline (2 p.m. CST) is rapidly approaching, and no end in sight for the Timberwolves’ struggles, perhaps now is as good of a time as any to question what the record for the Minnesota Timberwolves by the time NBA Trade Deadline arrives? Perhaps even more importantly, will that record impact the strategy used by the Timberwolves at the deadline?

The Timberwolves should be back to full strength by that time. But the absence of Jordan McLaughlin, combined with injuries to frontcourt players Karl-Anthony Towns, Taurean Prince, and Kyle Anderson, has proven to be far too challenging for this Timberwolves team. The team struggled in 2the absence of these key players. But this is more than just injured players. Because this is such a new roster, Timberwolves Head Coach Chris Finch has been overly challenged with resetting the roster and rotations to optimize the remaining healthy players.

Net buyers, or sellers, at the trade deadline?

Since the start of December 2022, the Timberwolves are 5-8 and will be quite fortunate to emerge from the month with a record of 6-9. From that point, the Timberwolves will have 20 games before the trade deadline arrives. If the team hopes to return to a .500 or better record, the Wolves need to play to a 12-8 win-loss run to get just to that .500 mark (their record at the trade deadline would be 29-28 or 28-29, depending on how the rest of this month plays out.

While I would not recommend any surrender to this season until the full extent has played out, the voices of abandoning the current attempts to improve continue to grow in volume among the fans. Eventually, the Timberwolves will need to make the call of sticking to their original plan, or cannibalizing the current roster and walking it back in some attempt to recoup some draft picks and play it safe.

The problem with trading players for picks is that it resets the timetable for this team out for as many as another three or more years. In the end, trading away unpopular players like D’Angelo Russell now or Karl-Anthony Towns in 2023 does nothing to improve the team. If the return on any future trade includes draft picks, then the Timberwolves need to await the development of those new rookies before this team can challenge for significance in the NBA.

While the current Minnesota Timberwolves season may be very challenging, the alternatives offer no immediate relief and could prolong the fans’ frustration and disappointment even longer

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