As the NBA season approaches, the Minnesota Timberwolves find themselves at a crossroads, evaluating their roster and potential trade opportunities. All signs are pointing to the Wolves running back their core of PF Karl-Anthony Towns, C Rudy Gobert, and SG Anthony Edwards in the 2023-24 season. That suggests that any trades that happen this season will likely occur outside of these three players.
With a mix of established veterans and emerging talents on this roster, the team must carefully consider its future direction, especially with the upcoming changes to the CBA affecting how teams will be built financially. With this delicate balance in mind, here are three sneaky candidates for in-season trades this year.
1. PG Mike Conley Jr.
Veteran PG Mike Conley Jr.’s short time with the Timberwolves has showcased his impact on the court. Despite his age of 35, Conley has proven to be a valuable asset. However, his $24,360,000 salary on an expiring contract presents an intriguing trade opportunity. If the team struggles or if Conley encounters performance or injury issues, it could be in the Timberwolves’ best interest to capitalize on the value of his expiring contract.
Barring any sort of contract extension, trading Conley could provide the team with financial flexibility to make future moves while potentially acquiring assets in return. Trading Conley would be a tough decision that balances immediate impact with long-term planning.
2. SF/PF Kyle Anderson
Forward Kyle Anderson, like Conley, has made a significant contribution to the Timberwolves in a short period. His steady play and versatility have been huge assets to a pretty volatile team, as he averages more than nine points, 5n nearly five assists, nearly five rebounds, and a steal per game last season. However, Anderson’s expiring contract worth just over $9 million per year puts him in an interesting position.
With the team navigating a tight cap situation around core players like SG Anthony Edwards, PF Karl-Anthony Towns, and C Rudy Gobert, they might explore cost-effective options to fill role positions. Prospects such as Josh Minott, Wendell Moore Jr, and now rookie forward Leonard Miller could end up being appealing alternatives. It’s worth noting that the impending contract extension of Jaden McDaniels factors into this equation. The Timberwolves could opt to trade Anderson, who is coming off a career season, to acquire assets and maintain financial flexibility.
3. Jordan McLaughlin
Backup point guard Jordan McLaughlin finds himself in a unique position heading into the upcoming season. He is in the final year of his three-year, $6,480,000 contract. And the future of his role with the Minnesota Timberwolves is loaded with uncertainty. Last season, McLaughlin struggled with injuries, which impacted his performance on the court. If he falls out of the guard rotation or fails to regain his previous form, a trade could make sense for both parties.
For McLaughlin, a move to a team where he could potentially earn more playing minutes might be enticing. Meanwhile, the Timberwolves could consider trading McLaughlin to address other needs or bolster their roster depth, though point guard is certainly a position with long-term questions heading into this season.
Team performance will obviously be a factor in the likelihood of each of these trades, but it’s undeniable that the Timberwolves will face some important decisions near the trade deadline this season. It’ll be important for Timberwolves Coach Chris Finch to evaluate the team’s prospects as the season progresses.
That, in turn, will allow Minnesota Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly to determine how expendable the veteran contracts of Conley, Anderson, and McLaughlin are. The Timberwolves must balance immediate competitiveness with long-term planning, with the new CBA structure at the top of mind.
And to do that, they may need to shed some ballast from the Timberwolves roster.