The Minnesota Timberwolves have been front and center in regards to trade rumors this summer. Their All-Star power forward, Kevin Love, has made it crystal clear to Flip Saunders and management that he will not re-sign with the team next summer. As a result, Minnesota has taken its time, ensuring they receive adequate pieces in trading away a player who is, arguably, the best power forward currently in the league. Between two rumored trades to happen on August 23, once Andrew Wiggins has successfully been on Cleveland for 30 days, the Minnesota Timberwolves may improve their squad significantly after a dramatic summer.
The agreement that Minnesota and Cleveland have in place consists of Love being traded to the Cavaliers for the two most recent top draft picks, Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, along with a future first-round pick. In recent days, it has been reported by Wiggins’ former coach, Kansas Jayhawks’ coach Bill Self that his former player is in support of being traded to Minnesota. While the Timberwolves have not made the playoffs during the entire six seasons that Love has been on the team, the top pick in this year’s draft wants the challenge. Furthermore, when Wiggins goes to Minnesota, he will have a better chance in being an integral part of the team, opposed to being, at best, the third option on Cleveland. Instead, Wiggins, who is said to be one of the best top picks in recent years, is a player the team can build around.
Last year during his one-year stint at Kansas, Wiggins averaged 17.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.2 spg and 1 bpg. Not only can he fill the void of an offensive specialist such as Love, but Wiggins can do something that the soon-to-be former Minnesota All-Star was unable to do — play defense. His defense will help Minnesota tremendously, considering last season they were one of the worst defensive squads, by placing 26th in points allowed at 104.3. As such, Wiggins, alongside Gorgui Dieng, who was sparsely used until the end of last season in Minnesota, could be the key in improving their defense.
It is rumored that the Wiggins trade is not the only transaction on Flip Saunders’ agenda. It has been largely speculated that Bennett, in addition to possibly the future first round pick, will be traded to the Philadelphia 76ers for power forward Thaddeus Young. If the trade is completed, Young will give Minnesota a high quality replacement at the power forward position for Love. Young last season averaged 17.9 ppg, 6 rpg and 2.1 spg last season for the 76ers. While he does not make up for the rebounding skills that Kevin Love possessed, Young will give Minnesota a reliable scorer, who can serve as a second or third option to Wiggins and possibly Kevin Martin. Additionally, by bringing Young on board, Minnesota will have two of the top three leaders in steals last season, along with Ricky Rubio, who averaged 2.3 spg.
If these two trades become a reality, Minnesota may not only have a future, but they may even be able to make the playoffs during the 2014-2015 season. They would have a solid starting lineup of Rubio at the point, Martin at shooting guard, Wiggins at small forward, Young at power forward and, likely, Nikola Pekovic at center. Additionally, Minnesota will continue to utilize and develop solid backup center Gorgui Dieng. Elsewhere on the bench, the Timberwolves picked up veteran guard Mo Williams (9.7 ppg, 4.3 apg) during the off-season. Williams will be another piece to help increase Minnesota’s depth in addition to the aforementioned Dieng, as well as Corey Brewer (12.3 ppg, 1.85 spg) and J.J. Barea (8.4 ppg, 3.8 apg). If healthy, the Minnesota Timberwolves may luck out by trading Love for two quality pieces that may get them over the hump.
The Timberwolves have shown great promise over the years. Despite their potential, Kevin Love will no longer be a part of the squad, which is now led by coach Flip Saunders. Instead, these two rumored trades, to Cleveland and Philadelphia respectively, may actually improve the roster of the Minnesota Timberwolves, after dispatching their star player in Kevin Love. Saunders, who also serves as team president, has the possibility of turning the Timberwolves into a playoff team. No longer will Minnesota be at the whim of Kevin Love. In a reversal move, the Minnesota Timberwolves may have done just enough to earn themselves a trip to the playoffs, which is something nobody could have imagined after unloading an All-Star like Love.
Commentary by Simon Mounsey