It is officially trade season in the NBA. On Dec. 15, 81 players who signed as free agents are now eligible to be traded. Some players will have to wait until Jan. 15 to be traded, but that will not apply to the Wolves here. The Wolves are currently $2,362,588 below the luxury tax, according to Spotrac. There isn't any wiggle room for the Wolves to take on any salary in a deal.
Regardless, the Wolves have the best record in the NBA and are atop the Western Conference. When the team is at full strength head coach Chris Finch has gone to a set nine-man rotation. The Wolves are in a strange spot where they do have a lot of depth on their roster. But if anything were to happen to that depth, the options behind it are not ideal and a real issue.
The Wolves are not trading Kyle Anderson, Naz Reid, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, or Troy Brown Jr. One thing is missing from that list of players: none of them play point guard or at least a lead guard. Shake Milton was brought on this offseason to be that backup guard who can initiate the offense when Mike Conley sits. It hasn't worked out, and Milton is finding himself out of the rotation.
Last week, Dan Favale of Bleacher Report published his ultimate trade season cheat sheet for every team. Favale breaks down everything-- including players most likely to be traded and trade targets. Favale lists Alec Burks, Jevon Carter, and Delon Wright as potential targets.
The Wolves also don't have very many assets available for them to trade. The only future picks they are allowed to include are a 2024 second-round pick from Memphis or Washington (least favorable), a 2025 second from Utah, and a 2026 second from Indiana, Miami, or San Antonio (least favorable). Those picks are not anything great, but they should be able to help facilitate a trade.
To help clear up the bench guard role, the Wolves should trade for Carter. He's nothing sexy, but he is a better fit for the guard role than Milton is for this team. His counting stats and his advanced stats are nothing that impressive this season, but that is more due to the team being poor rather than him individually. Carter is still a good defender for his size and a functional offensive player who has shot nearly 40 percent (.393) from three in his career.
The Bulls are in rebuild mode and should sell off any players they can for assets. They currently have a worse tax situation than the Wolves do. That's how deep that franchise is. Milton has a non-guaranteed contract for next season, which the Bulls could very well be interested in. Milton and the 2024 second from Memphis or Washington for Carter is a deal that makes sense for everyone. The Bulls are trying to cut salaries and get assets while the Wolves get better bench depth.
Carter signed a three-year contract for $ 19.5 million last offseason and has a player option for 2025-26. By trading for Carter, the team will be on the hook for $6.5 million next season and the $6.8 million player option. Given how rough the finances are for the Wolves next season, Carter's contract should not be a hindrance for shoring up the bench guard spot.
The odds of the Wolves doing a trade this season are very low. They have their eight and nine-man rotation already set. Bringing on Carter at this point would be a sheer luxury. Often in the NBA, plans change. If the Wolves are serious about being contenders and winning the west, then getting a guard who fits will help not just the present but the future as well.