Wolves at the deadline: an evaluation

Benjamin Polk —  March 4, 2011 — 3 Comments

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NBA fans always invest the trade deadline, like the draft, with outsized hopes, dreams of that transformative deal that will remake the face of their franchise and propel their franchise into that next echelon. This year, those hopes were actually made real for a few teams. So how did the Wolves do? Let’s check it out.

The Corey Brewer for Anthony Randolph deal has been much discussed, here and elsewhere. The Wolves gave up their best defender and most passionate, energetic player, albeit a guy with some serious offensive deficiencies. In return, they go an extremely gifted, extremely athletic, extremely rusty young guy, a player whose future is very much an unanswered question. They sacrificed perimeter defense (a precious asset for this team) in favor of athleticism, shot creation and versatility in the frontcourt. If Wes Johnson can continue is recent run of defensive improvement, and if Randolph can turn in more offensive performances like his nice effort in Detroit, this could work out. But right now, this has the distinct flavor of a lateral move.

One of the Wolves’ other stated goals was to “stabilize the point guard position,” in the words of David Kahn.¬† It seems highly unlikely that Ricky Rubio, Jonny Flynn and Luke Ridnour will be able to coexist on the same roster next season. And considering Flynn’s rotten season so far, it looked like Kahn was on the verge of cutting his losses on his lottery pick of two summers ago. There were murmurs of Flynn being sent to Utah for Raja Bell or to Houston for Aaron Brooks (although its hard to see how Brooks would have made things any simpler.) But the Bell deal was never a solid proposition and it turns out that the Rockets were essentially using the Wolves¬† as bargaining leverage in their eventual trade of Brooks to Phoenix for Goran Dragic. So no dice there.

Finally, there was the matter of Eddy Curry’s contract and the Wolves’ cap room. Considering the league’s unstable future–no one knows what the salary cap will be next year, whether it will be hard or soft, or anything else, for that matter–now would have seemed to be the time to make a deal, taking on some other team’s unwanted salary in exchange for Curry’s expiring deal. It’s not clear that a trade like this will be at all possible this coming summer. Given that the Wolves’ might, at the moment, be the league’s least desirable free-agent destination, their cap room may not be worth the paper its (not) printed on.

Indeed, Kahn made noises that he was trying to move Curry’s contract at the deadline, but that other team’s were wary of taking on salary in advance of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Still, here’s an incomplete list of the players that were moved in the days before the deadline: Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Deron Williams, Derrick Favors, Kirk Hinrich, Mike Bibby, Kendrick Perkins, Nate Robinson, Gerald Wallace, Aaron Brooks, Goran Dragic, Devin Harris, Joel Pryzbilla, Raymond Felton and others.

Obviously, not all of these players would have been possible, or even desirable, acquisitions for the Wolves. But, clearly, things were happening; some very talented players were on the move. And, save for graciously helping other teams make their big deals, the Wolves were mostly unable to get in on the action.

Benjamin Polk

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3 responses to Wolves at the deadline: an evaluation

  1. The Kahn grade is in again and it seems (albeit from the Darko signing) that he has put a few good moves in since the summer. Moving Corey Brewer, who ESPN TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott, called Brewer “the league’s leading candidate to be the next Bruce Bowen!” Now, I know he is important to Minnesota’s defensive scheme but it wasn’t like he was going to take us to new heights. In the NBA, there are some players who can be good on bad teams and some who can look good on good teams, that’s what Brewer is, a guy who can looks wonderful on a playoff team. Even with him here in Sota, teams piled up crazy numbers on us, with having one of the worst defensive teams. Now, trading him for Anthony Randolph seems like a good idea looking at that picture. Anyways, what is to come for Randolph? Everyone talks about his high ceiling and that’s great but some day you’re going to have to cash that “high ceiling” in one day. Now, I don’t think it’ll be for us, we already have Beasley and Love pretty much playing the same position as him, so the minutes will look scarce for the moment. In the long-term plans, I don’t see him staying even though throughout the process of getting him, Kahn seemed very highly of him. Maybe it’s a way of using him as a nice trading chip once we have a legit team with the future in the player’s eye. Hopefully, so then…

    Now with Curry, everyone knows he was brought in for one thing – cap space! With lots of defensive bigs coming up in this year free agency list, maybe Minnesota could lure one of those guys into coming here. Now seeing how the new CBA shapes up, this deal could leave the Wolves with less money than they expected! Also, not moving Johnny Flynn, who could have gone out during the summer, might haunt us for a bit since his trade value has plummeted this season. If there was anytime to move him, it should have been now. He’s just been looking like one big mistake now and Minnesota is going to have to ride it out!

    Nice work Ben, keep it up!

  2. Thanks for the thoughtful reply TMRW. The thing about the Eddy Curry contract is that the Wolves already had that cap space. The only advantage to acquiring Curry would be to trade his contract to a team trying to shed salary. As it stands, the Wolves used Curry’s expiring deal to no advantage whatsoever. They ended with what they started with: cap space–that may or may not exist after the new CBA–with which to lure some yet to be determined free agent who wouldn’t mind playing in MN for a 20-win team. Anybody jump to mind?

  3. They only way we get someone to come here is if they are traded here. It seems like Kahn is trying to do what Boston did. Have a lot of tallented people on your roster that another team thinks looks attractive and then maybe you can trade for an ageing star or two. If Rubio comes over and can run an uptempo team we should look better next year. Right now it seems that they shouldn’t be making trades just to make them. It’s all about making the right trade now. But who?

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