The vitriol over the Minnesota Timberwolves’ offseason trade with the Utah Jazz was not surprising. Regardless of the details of the season, the Minnesota Timberwolves rolled the dice with the hope of getting to and advancing further in the NBA Playoffs than Round 1. The good news is that the trade did add another top NBA defender at the center position, providing the Timberwolves with a true rim protector, and does allow the Timberwolves to keep an All-Star core of players together for many years.
At the time, the price of the Timberwolves’ trade package for Gobert escalated the asking price of other NBA veterans who were on the market. One such player was Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant, who strongly requested to be traded. That trade did not happen before the season, but at the NBA Trade Deadline, Durant was traded to the Phoenix Suns:
Let’s look at that a bit differently:
So how does that compare to the Timberwolves’ trade package for Rudy Gobert?
The Timberwolves added a player who is currently 30 years old and is under contract through 2025. For the 2025-26 contract year, Gobert has a player option to play one more season with the Timberwolves. The Suns added a player who is currently 34 years old and is under contract through 2026. Now, let’s compare the trade details:
- Trade package: Timberwolves traded Suns Traded
- Players Beverley, Beasley, Kessler Bridges, Johnson,
- Players (contd) Vanderbilt, Bolmaro Vaulet
- Picks 2023 1st round 2023 1st round
- Picks 2025 1st round 2025 1st round
- Picks 2027 1st round 2027 1st round
- Pick swap 2026 1st rd pick swap 2028 1st rd pick swap
- Picks 2029 1st Rd (Top 5 prot) 2029 1st round
- Picks N/A 2028 2nd rd, 2029 2nd rd.
Now, if you want to compare draft picks, the Phoenix Suns paid more in that they have no protection on the 2029 first-round pick, plus the Suns kicked in their second-round picks in both 2028 and 2029.
What about the players? While rookie center Walker Kessler shows flashes of being a good player, there was next to nothing known about him after the Timberwolves drafted him. As far as guard Patrick Beverley, forward Jarred Vanderbilt, and guard Malik Beasley, all three are rotational niche players who were subsequently traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. Leandro Bolmaro was released outright by the Utah Jazz.
F Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson have quickly been integrated into the Brooklyn Nets lineup, and appear to have found a new home.
I’m not ready to call either trade a failure, nor should the front office of the Minnesota Timberwolves or the Phoenix Suns be scrambling this off-season to undo those trades. For the time being, the cries of the ‘worst trade in NBA history,’ by some to decry the Timberwolves acquisition of center Rudy Gobert is way over the top.