Wolves at the trade deadline: On the hunt?
The trade deadline is schedule for 2pm CT on Thursday and the Wolves are said to be buyers right now by enticing prospective trade partners with Brandon Roy’s salary relief and a future first round pick. This makes sense for the team if it means they’re adding a piece they can take into next year that helps balance out the roster without taking on too much money. While I don’t believe Glen Taylor to be a cheap owner by any means (when the team is good and producing, he historically spends the money and even flirts with the luxury tax), the Wolves do need to be cognizant of cost right now (more on that in a bit).
So what could the Wolves be targeting?
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com threw this little nugget into his trade buzz column earlier today:
Minnesota is aggressively offering draft picks for established wing help, but the Wolves have yet to find anyone ready to deal.
That makes sense. Not only do the Wolves only have four healthy guards right now, they have a first round draft pick to give for this coming draft. The Wolves have their own pick and the Memphis Grizzlies’ pick, except they have to give the Phoenix Suns the less favorable of the two selections this coming draft. The Wolves’ pick is top 13 protected this year and in 2014, and top 12 protected in 2015 and 2016. The Grizzlies’ pick is lottery protected until 2016, but considering they are the fourth seed in the West right now, it’s unlikely they’ll fall down to the ninth seed or worse.
But if the Wolves’ deal the Grizzlies pick to another team, the Suns would then just have to wait for the draft pick protection to run out on Minnesota’s pick (remember this game?). They might have to wait for the Wolves’ lottery protection on the pick to be up anyway before they take the less favorable of the two, but I’m waiting to find out word on just how the protection is worded.
We also had this rumor from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports earlier this evening in his trade buzz post:
The Minnesota Timberwolves were turned down on an offer of Brandon Roy and a first-round pick to Denver for center Timofey Mozgov, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
Denver is combing the market further for offers on Mozgov. He will be a restricted free agent this summer, and the emergence of Kosta Koufos could make it hard for Denver to match an offer sheet for Mozgov.
The Timberwolves are trying to include Roy’s contract into offers, selling the non-guaranteed value of his 2013-14 year as an appealing factor. Roy is rehabilitating his knees, and neither the Wolves, nor Roy, truly expect he’ll be able to play again in the NBA, sources said.
Timberwolves GM David Kahn has been interested in negotiating a buyout with Roy, presumably as a way to show owner Glen Taylor he can get some money back on a failed free-agent signing.
A buyout could possibly come after the trade deadline, if Minnesota is unable to use Roy’s contract to balance out the money of a trade.
And this is where the dance begins.
Finding out information like “the Wolves would love to move something like this for something like that” is one thing. Having a failed trade offer leaked out to the press is another thing. And that’s where the parsing begins.
Whenever a specific trade offer gets mentioned by a reporter, I instantly look at the source. If you’re seeing something from a website that is mainly trying to grab you to keep their hits up, you probably have no reason to believe it has much validity. Yahoo! Sports is not a website like that. They have a great reputation for breaking news, especially when it comes to deadline deals.
While I’ll rarely take a column by Woj seriously when you’re getting a lot of opinion coming from him (see: Kahn, Hit piece using Kevin Love’s quotes to put pressure on David), the guy is one of the best in the business at breaking trades and signings in the NBA. I tend to believe he got decent information here. I’m not saying I believe this was a firm offer from the Wolves by any means, but a discussion could have definitely been had and then leaked to Woj.
After I look at the source, I begin to try to figure out why this would see the light of day. Considering Woj’s history with David Kahn, it’s pretty obvious that this “information” didn’t come from Kahn. Does that mean it didn’t come from someone with ties to the Timberwolves? No, it very well could have. But what benefit would that give them to let it be known this is happening?
Could this benefit anybody from the Denver Nuggets’ side of the deal? Absolutely. If the Nuggets really did decline this trade offer and then let it be known to the basketball world, how does it help them? Well, it sets a baseline for incoming offers the next day and a half for Timofey Mozgov, who is mildly sought out right now. You want Mozgov on your team? It’s going to take more than cap relief and an eventual first round pick from the Minnesota Timberwolves (possibly via the Memphis Grizzlies).
Could this benefit Timofey Mozgov’s agent? Hey, were you thinking about signing Mozgov this summer when he’s a free agent? Well, he’s in high demand so you better grab his Bird Rights for this offseason so you can have the upper hand in retaining his services!
I’m not saying the Woj information on the alleged Wolves’ declined trade offer is correct or wrong. It’s just believable enough to make me think it’s legit. It’s from a source that makes me think it’s legit. But it doesn’t fit into the roster construction of the team for this year. However, it does fit into the roster construction for the team moving forward if they don’t want to pay Nikola Pekovic a big deal and keep flexibility. Is Mozgov as good as Pek? Absolutely not. Can he rebound and play some defense? Yes.
Over the next 36-ish hours, we’re going to see the Wolves thrown into a few crazy trade rumors. We’re also going to see some reasonable rumors. One of those might come to fruition. Nothing might happen. A trade that wasn’t rumored at all could happen. Let’s pretend we’re all heterosexual males reading this so this analogy makes sense.
The trade deadline is a beautiful girl in a skimpy, yet classy outfit spending an evening at the bar. She’ll flirt with you or she won’t be but she’ll make you think she’s flirting with you. You’ll want to buy her drinks but abstain. You’ll buy her drinks and it will go nowhere. You’ll buy her drinks and it will become a one night stand. You’ll buy her drinks and you’ll end up marrying her. Nearly every conceivable possibility is available at this time, and all of it is a smoke screen at some point.
There are two things I just want to hammer home before I end this:
1) The leak. Why did this information leak? Who did it come from? Why would it be out there if it failed? I feel like we’ve covered that but I wanted to mention it one more time.
2) The Wolves’ payroll. The team currently sits at $58.9 million for next season for 13 players. Brandon Roy, Greg Stiemsma, Chris Johnson, and Mickael Gelabale don’t have fully guaranteed deals, but I’m guessing Stiemsma sticks around. Let’s change that number to 10 players and $51.8 million by assuming Roy’s deal comes off the books and CJ and Gelly are waived for some reason. Now let’s assume the Wolves have to commit $14 million to keep Pek on the roster.
We’re sitting at $65.8 million with 11 players and have a first round draft pick to pay. The Wolves currently have the ninth pick due to record, so let’s just pretend nothing crazy happens in the lottery and they keep the ninth pick. Andre Drummond was the ninth pick in last year’s draft and made $2.3 million this year. Now we’re at $68.1 million for next year’s team. The luxury tax is $70.3 million, giving Minnesota roughly $2.2 million of wiggle room. They also will presumably want to re-sign Chase Budinger if his knee is okay.
The Wolves are looking at being a luxury tax team heading into next year if they don’t make any big changes. But they have plenty of movable pieces with Derrick Williams ($5 million next year), J.J. Barea ($4.6 million), and Luke Ridnour ($4.3 million) for this summer, so I’m not really worried about this team becoming a luxury tax team any time soon. The Wolves are still capable of having a lot of flexibility without shattering the core. However, that does mean if you see a trade rumor with the Wolves taking on long-term salary or a bigger number for next season coming in, then it wouldn’t make much sense for the Wolves to flirt so heavily with the luxury tax under the current construction.
Just some information to remind you of to keep you grounded through the madness. The rumors will swirl. Some will be by guys doing their jobs and some will be by guys trying to further their job by getting their name out there at all costs. Tweet accordingly.