Preposterous trade rumor links Cavaliers' star guard to Minnesota

Cleveland Cavaliers v Orlando Magic - Game Three
Cleveland Cavaliers v Orlando Magic - Game Three / Rich Storry/GettyImages

Only seven teams remain in the postseason. The Minnesota Timberwolves are one of them—with the Denver Nuggets as the only team standing in the way of a Western Conference Finals birth. Two other elimination games are also on the horizon. The Dallas Mavericks battle the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight and the New York Knicks take on the Indiana Pacers tomorrow.

The lone remaining team, the Boston Celtics, defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 4-1. The Celtics have already earned an Eastern Conference Finals appearance—their sixth in the past eight seasons. Boston took down an injury-marred Cleveland team with relative ease. The Cavaliers were without Jarrett Allen, missed Donovan Mitchell for a few games, and even lost Caris LeVert for Game 5.

The duo of Darius Garland and Evan Mobley were responsible for elongating the series. It was a tough ask considering Boston's extremely experienced and talented squad. Almost immediately following Cleveland's loss, rumors of discontent began to spread like wildfire.

First, the Mitchell trade buzz lit up social media. It came after a later refuted report—by Mitchell himself—which stated the Cleveland star guard was frustrated with his teammate's maturity, focus, playoff-level readiness, and willingness to listen.

After Mitchell reaffirmed his desire to remain in Ohio, questions arose regarding the Cavaliers' second-best player. A report that stated Garland is a prime trade candidate if Mitchell remains a Cavalier sparked endless trade possibilities. This report seemingly was not refuted by the 24-year-old point guard.

Following Garland's trade chatter, a report pointed to Minnesota as a potential landing spot for the All-Star guard. Apparently, the Wolves have been interested in Garland since 2019. Furthermore, Minnesota reportedly attempted to trade up to select the Vanderbilt product in the 2019 NBA Draft.

What makes the report questionable is 1) The Timberwolves' change in brass since the 2019 draft, and 2) Minnesota's current financial restrictions in initiating a trade revolving around the former fifth overall pick.

2019 was a year of disarray for the Timberwolves. Coach and chief of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau was fired at the beginning of the year. Minnesota turned to Ryan Saunders as the lead man and Scott Layden as the general manager.

Both Saunders' and Layden's terms were short-lived. Layden was gone by 2020, while Saunders lasted until February of 2021. The new regime, consisting of Chris Finch and Tim Connelly, began to coexist in 2022 when Connelly was hired as the president of basketball operations.

It's entirely possible Minnesota is interested in Garland. But to say the Wolves have been interested in Garland since 2019 feels like a stretch. As Wolves' journalist Dane Moore lamented in a reply to the report on X, the Wolves are an entirely different organization than they were in 2018.

Secondly, financial restrictions and a lack of draft assets will make it almost impossible to trade for Garland. The Cavaliers' guard signed a five-year, $197 million contract with Cleveland in 2022. Garland's average yearly salary is right around $39 million.

The Wolves could theoretically use Karl-Anthony Towns in a trade for Garland. However, Towns' is slated to make at least $10 million more than Garland beginning next season. Additionally, the Cavs frontcourt logjam wouldn't welcome a Towns' trade. Cleveland is already set with Allen and Mobley at the four and five spots. Not to mention an Allen trade is a high possibility due to the wonky fit.

Jaden McDaniels salary is the next closest to Garland's. The Wolves defensive stopper will earn roughly $23 million next season—about $16 million less than Garland. Adding Mike Conley alongside a minimum-salary player to the trade would fulfill financial obligations. Now, is this something either Minnesota or Cleveland would even want to do is a pertinent question.

The link between Garland and Minnesota is weak at best. According to Bovada, the Wolves are currently the sixth-likeliest squad to acquire the sharpshooting point guard. All in all, tomorrow night's affair will play a big factor in the Timberwolves' offseason plans.