Nuggets saved Timberwolves from costly mistake at trade deadline

Bones Hyland, Minnesota Timberwolves (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images)
Bones Hyland, Minnesota Timberwolves (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves are gearing up to take on the final stretch of their regular season slate of games, and they will be doing it with a new face in the starting lineup. Mike Conley will be bringing a change of pace to the Wolves’ locker room, replacing the high-scoring and oftentimes inconsistent D’Angelo Russell with a more methodical, slow-paced distributor.

As Timberwolves fans look back on the trade deadline, they will remember the whirlwind of rumors and proposed trades that went around as their team prepared to trade Russell. But they will also no doubt think about all the imagined deals that never came to fruition.

After all, it seemed like nearly half of Minnesota’s roster was on the trading block at one point or another. Many Timberwolves fans were nervous that the front office might make another risky move, and it was recently revealed that they nearly did.

The Minnesota Timberwolves nearly pulled off a trade for Bones Hyland

One of the more frequently-mentioned Wolves trade targets at this year’s deadline was the former Denver Nugget, now Los Angeles Clipper Bones Hyland. Minnesota was reported as having interest in the streaky-shooting guard on multiple occasions, with the intention of using him to replace some of D’Angelo Russell’s scoring punch.

KSTP’s Darren Wolfson revealed on a recent podcast that the Timberwolves had a deal in place to acquire Hyland from the Nuggets, but it never came to be. Denver instead accepted the Clippers’ offer of two second-round picks in exchange for Hyland.

Wolfson reported that Minnesota was not only matching Los Angeles’ offer of two second-rounders, but they were apparently willing to send even more in order to acquire Bones Hyland. What ultimately led to the trade proposal being rejected was Timberwolves President Tim Connelly’s connection to the Denver Nuggets, where he held the same title until May 2022.

Denver unintentionally helped the Timberwolves dodge a bullet

The Nuggets organization ultimately determined that they did not want to help Connelly, and in turn a Western Conference rival, by making the trade. In theory, it was a smart business decision on their end, dealing their young guard to a team outside their division.

But in refusing the Timberwolves’ offer, Denver unintentionally prevented Minnesota from making a less-than-wise move. Sure, Bones Hyland could have provided a decent scoring punch here and there, but he was never going to be a consistent top offensive option for the Wolves. His 11.9 points per game in 19.4 minutes per contest are fine, but they have largely come at the expense of efficiency.

Hyland shot just under 40% in 42 games with the Nuggets this season. In addition, his scoring numbers are all over the place. From December to January, he scored in double figures in eight straight games, before failing to score in double figures for the next six games after that.

Timberwolves fans already get impatient with Jaylen Nowell’s inconsistency, and trading for Bones Hyland would have essentially doubled those frustrations. Looking back, Minnesota should be looking at Denver’s denial of their trade offer as a blessing in disguise.