Wolves at the deadline: an evaluation
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.