Wolves at the trade deadline: On the hunt?

Zach Harper —  February 20, 2013 — 21 Comments

RickAdelKahn

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.

Zach Harper

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21 responses to Wolves at the trade deadline: On the hunt?

  1. Jaffe, I would do this in a second. The Wolves would do this in a second. Unless it’s Darnell Mayberry or Royce Young though, things like this should be avoided.

  2. pagingstanleyroberts February 20, 2013 at 9:43 am

    Darren Wolfson said on Twitter that Kahn told him they didn’t need to give the Memphis pick to Phoenix (which is different than what RealGM.com has on this), so they might be able to give up the Memphis pick without it affecting what they give to Phoenix. Either way, I still hate that they drafted Wes Johnson.

    The things I’m most nervous about this close to the deadline:
    - Them not opening up a roster spot by getting rid of Roy: Unless there’s a hidden element to his contract that means he only comes off their cap by staying on their roster all season, they need to get rid of him. Even letting him retire so they can add another body is better than the status quo.
    - Choosing to trade Ridnour because he has more value than Barea: If it’s inevitable that one goes, they need to position themselves well for next year. Ridnour fits better with existing personnel and plays more games.
    - Trading their lottery pick: They can still foster a win-now attitude and hold on to this pick. Trading it in a draft that the advanced stats guys consider much deeper than last year’s is a bad idea. They just need to find the right type of player who Adelman will trust enough to play.
    - Taking on any deal that influences their decisions on upcoming free agents currently on their roster: Getting, say, Arron Afflalo and then not matching an offer sheet for Pek is a step backward, not forward, especially since they’d likely have to throw in a pick for whoever they get.
    - Forgoing the draft for the rest of Adelman’s tenure: I know he wants to win, but do the Wolves even have enough leverage to win those types of deals? Kahn’s reputation is such that everyone’s trying to screw him over, and making a trade under those conditions leads to things like the Marko Jaric trade.

  3. pagingstanleyroberts February 20, 2013 at 9:49 am

    “If the Memphis pick conveys but the Minnesota pick doesn’t, then the pick will roll over to the next season and thus only future Minnesota picks will be in play.”

    Read more: http://valleyofthesuns.com/2012/07/28/complicated-draft-pick-protections-held-up-lopez-deal/#ixzz2LSFzLooF

    Basically, the Wolves would have to end up at #14 in the lottery (possible) or make the playoffs (unlikely) for Memphis’ pick to go to Phoenix. If it doesn’t, they give up one of their own picks in future drafts.

  4. I’m confused why the Wolves would be pursuing Mozgov. He isn’t spectacular and that’s not even the place of greatest need of the Wolves right now. It is evident that Adelman trusts no one at the center spot besides Pek which is causing him to wear down. It is becoming increasingly evident why he doesn’t trust Steimsma, but I don’t understand why he isn’t giving Chris Johnson a proper run at being the backup center since he was gold for the few games he got a shot.

    The problem seems to be the Wolves now have 4 point guards, no shooting guards, and with Budinger and Kirilenko out, only one D-League quality small forward. Looking at needs in both the short and long-term, shouldn’t they be trying to flip one of their PG’s or PF’s for a SG that can also play SF?

  5. AND— Why hasn’t MarShon Brooks been mentioned in any potential trades? He is a young guy with obvious scoring talent who is rotting on the bench in Brooklyn behind Joe Johnson and Keith Bogans of all people and doesn’t seem to fit in with the Nets long-term. How come the Wolves aren’t pursuing a guy like him?

  6. Mozgov would be Pek insurance. Pek is going to get a crazy contract offer as a RFA this summer. If you have Mozgov for the next 30 games to see if Adelman’s staff can fix his tendency to foul like they did for Pek, you have a better idea of whether you need to match the crazy offer Pek draws or save that cap space for your other pending free agents such as Rubio and AK.

  7. I’ve been focusing on the draft for a while now. Oladipo or McCollum, please Kahn don’t mess this up.

  8. How about Pek at $10m instead?

  9. Why dont they go after Josh Smith. He is still young, and statistically one of the best wingman in the game. His perimiter Defense is awesme and has even played the point guard position at times. Mixed with Rubio, that could get wicked sweet. • The Hawks are believed to be seeking a combination of expiring contracts, young players and draft picks in exchange for Smith. The Wolves first rounder from Memphis + D Williams + Roy = Josh Smith. Sign and trade. Let Pek go this year and find yourselves a defensive orriented Center for cheap. I like Rubio, Smith, and Love for the next 3 years. With the right supporting cast around them, I see some serious final runs. Your thoughts………….

  10. Great post. Excellent info and enjoyable reading. I’m a junkie for trade deadline info, especially good stuff like this. For the most part, I hope the Wolves buy her maybe one drink, but not get too crazy with the trade deadline. Flip Luke for a bigger SG that can shoot the 3. I hope we keep our own pick (lottery), and Kahn isn’t around to make the selection. We have a pretty solid crew, but still need to hit on drafting some young talent if we will ever get to the elite level. The Pek question is huge, no idea what the Wolves plans are. But it still looks like our best option is to keep him and hope we can get him for something less-than-max (maybe for about what we were going to pay Batum). Who doesn’t love having that big fella on the team?

  11. The Marshon Brooks idea is intriguing. I know he can score, which would be great. But will he play defense? Can he move without the ball? Can he find open teammates? If not, then don’t bother, Adelman won’t play him (like Williams). Btw, Williams needs to keep progressing or he will get little or no minutes when Love and Buddinger return (bascially, he needs to pass Dante on the depth chart).

  12. You guys have questions; I have answers. Some of them may even be correct!

    Mike, Chris Johnson is about 210 pounds. He can’t just be a regular backup center. He can be energetic in small doses but giving him regular rotation minutes against guys with 60-80 pounds on him is a bad idea. Mozgov has improved a lot since Blake Griffin checked him for lice while making a poster. The Wolves have four healthy guards and three of them happen to be point guards. Trading one of the guards is tricky because you have to get a guy who can play the wing. Those guys are hard to come by in this trade market, especially when you don’t have overwhelming assets to offer. You can’t trade in your mediocre stuff for helpful components. It’s really hard.

    As for MarShon Brooks, he’s not currently available for a trade unless it means bringing in someone like Dwight Howard. While the Nets aren’t crazy about him right now, they are very high on his potential down the road. The Wolves could pursue him but they don’t have anything to offer that the Nets would really want. They can’t add decent-sized contracts (anything over $3m) unless they’re bringing in someone like Josh Smith.

    Shawn, the Wolves aren’t going after Josh Smith for two reasons 1) they won’t be able to re-sign him and 2) you’d have to give up a lot to get him. Smith seems like a nice idea but the guy is seriously bad on offense. He should be good. He has most of the tools you’d want for a good offensive player, but his TS% has been under 50% for two straight seasons. He takes terrible shots all the time and has an attitude about it. Yes, the defense is great but the only way you keep him is by giving him the five-year max and that’s a disaster waiting to happen.

    If you’re operating under the 2K world, Smith is awesome. However, in the NBA world, he’s as much of a problem as he is a bonus.

    As for Mozgov, Snyder is dead-on. He’s insurance in case they decide against matching Pek’s offer sheet this summer. Wolves could probably make him into a pretty decent center, but decent centers get good-sized contracts. You want a cheap, defensive-minded center? How many of those not on a rookie deal are there?

  13. In the 2k world, there are tons of defensive minded centers for cheap! Hold on let me fire up the PS3 quickly and Ill start listing them……….All jokes aside, I like your points. Honestly, it might be best if the Wolves just chill this trade deadline out and go into offseason focused and ready. A small trade for cap space is fine. Maybe Love and Bud can come back and spark some life back into the club.

  14. I’m with you, Shawn. I’m all for standing pat unless it makes overwhelming sense to do a trade.

  15. Is Budinger expected back soon? Love as well?

  16. Both expected back by mid march.

  17. Thank you sir

  18. Any way the wolves can get a deal done similar to this one? Let some of the extra players at the PG spot go for some wing help?

    http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=auocakh

  19. I really think whatever they do they need to position themselves to keep Pek no matter what. Good centers are hard to find, and tbh honest as much as I love Love, I would rather see him go than Pek as there seems to be an over abundance of PF’s in this league.

    In an ideal world I wouldnt mind seeing Barea, Williams, and Roy get traded off in order to secure a decent SG/SF (preferably someone who can play both) and keep enough room to resign Pek as I really think that a starting line-up of Pek/Love/AK/Rubio/Budinger will be a force to reckon with in the future when healthy. They also need to keep Shved and Cunningham.

    Then again if it wasnt for this crazy rash of injuries plaguing the Wolves we might not even be having this convo right now.

  20. Thanks, Zach. And I would agree with standing pat, too. We still have no idea what this team is capable of when everyone is healthy.

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