Ah, yes, it’s trade deadline season. The time of year when you stare at your phone, refreshing twitter, trying to wade through the convincing fake accounts and random blather of wannabe Wojnarowskis to suss out what the hell is actually happening in the NBA. It’s the time for clearing cap space, future protected (or unprotected) picks, cash considerations, unfounded rumors and agonizing waiting games for players, their families, coaches, and fans, as the employment statuses of so many people hang in the balance.
We’ve got you covered from the Wolves’ perspective – the whole crew is here for a pre-deadline roundtable. Without further ado…
In case you missed it, the Sacramento Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins (and Omri Casspi) to the New Orleans Pelicans for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, a top-three protected first-round pick in 2017, and a 2017 second-round pick.
I won’t ask for you to merely beat that deal, because it wouldn’t be too difficult; so instead I’ll phrase it like this… If you were in charge of the Wolves, what is the most you would have given up to acquire DeMarcus Cousins? (Note: “Nothing” is an acceptable answer, if you think the KAT-Boogie pairing would be unfeasible in the long term, and you’d rather just pass on the whole thing).
Bill: I would not offer Towns, Wiggins or LaVine. I don’t think anyone would be all that interested in Kris Dunn, Tyus Jones or Nemanja Bjelica. Not having the ability to trade their own 2017 first-round pick essentially eliminated the Wolves’ hopes to acquire Boogie. I’m not saying Thibs would’ve done it, or that Sacramento would’ve picked a package of the Wolves’ first, Ricky Rubio and Shabazz Muhammad, but… who the hell really knows what the Kings would’ve done?
Tim: Any combo of Dunn/Rubio (whoever they preferred between the two), LaVine, and Shabazz. I would have probably parted with a top 5 protected first if convinced well enough. While I can understand why his antics and reported popularity with coaches could hurt his value, I’m a huge Boogie guy. I couldn’t help but picture him next to KAT and Wiggins and get excited. What if a change of scenery, and some winning, is all he needed? I would have been willing to take that chance.
That said, kudos to New Orleans for that highway robbery.
Andy: I lost count of how many times I tweeted out “LaVine & Dunn for Boogie,” or — before the draft — “LaVine & the 5 for Boogie.” The idea of pairing KAT & Cousins (basically the same concept as Anthony Davis & Cousins) while keeping Rubio and Wiggins seemed like a no-brainer to me. The Wolves would’ve had the imminent makings of a bonafide superteam and I think the likelihood of Cousins behaving (relatively) well in a new and improved atmosphere was worth the risks involved. LaVine’s injury made that idea unrealistic.
Lucas: I would’ve built a package around Kris Dunn, Shabazz Muhammad, perhaps Nemanja Bjelica, and a future first, though the structure of this offer is probably heavily based on hindsight. I never seriously considered a Wolves-Kings trade because I didn’t think that the Wolves could offer the best package of assets to obtain Boogie (I guess I was wrong?). The Kings have coveted Rubio for a while, so I think it’s fair to imagine that they probably would have required he be a part of any realistic package that would’ve netted Cousins, but I don’t think I would’ve given him up without getting a point guard in return.
Patrick: I’d have parted with LaVine, Rubio, and Muhammad, but I would’ve shopped Dunn hard before offering Rubio in that deal. I know this post is (should be?) really about Boogie, but I’m currently struck how much less shiny an object LaVine became IMMEDIATELY after his injury. A similar injury to KAT or Wiggins would’ve been met with similar disappointment, but the league at large would still see them as can’t-miss stars. Not so with LaVine, even though my hot-take is that he’ll probably come back strong and get himself back on the track he appeared to be on since the season started. Anyway, I get how one could defend either position on LaVine’s trade value, or lack thereof. I just I doubt that Vlade and Vivek would have been willing buyers, even if they’d known they’d get the deal they got.
Zach: I’d have offered Kris Dunn, Shabazz Muhammad, and a future first. The problem is the first-round pick would be so far in the future (can’t deal 2017 until draft night, same with 2019 because of pick owed to Atlanta) that it likely wouldn’t have even registered with the Kings. Also, neither Dunn nor Bazz remind Vivek of Steph Curry in any way. Nik Stauskas did. Buddy Hield does. But Bazz and Dunn don’t. I don’t think the Wolves would’ve ever been considered by Vivek, so it’s all kind of moot.
In the latest “crazy Dan Fegan and/or Phil Jackson nonsense” department, apparently, the Wolves are considering a Rubio for Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah swap. You don’t have to dignify that specific rumor with a response, if you don’t want to.
The deadline is Thursday at 2 PM Central Time. Is Ricky Rubio still on the team when the Wolves take on the Mavericks at home on Friday night? If you think he’ll get dealt, what landing spot do you see for him?
Bill: I just don’t see a team wanting to add Ricky on the fly. He’s got such a unique game, you’d almost need the offseason just to gear your team around his strengths and weaknesses. He’s Thibs’ most obvious chip, but because the Wolves are so far under the cap, they can make deals taking on salary and acquire assets for doing the favor – there’s really no need to dump Ricky just for the sake of dumping him. It isn’t as if Kris Dunn has been any good, at all, and deserves to be promoted to the starting lineup. I don’t know. I’m just not seeing it.
And please, God, not Derrick Rose. Anyone but Derrick Rose. Vomit.
Tim: I should preface this by saying Twitter makes me somewhat irrational around the deadline (and on draft day). I admittedly read into the tweets (from the good sources) more than I should. So there’s that. That said, I think there’s something to it. Woj is the all-knowing, but David Aldridge reported that talks are real, and he is a plugged in dude in his own right. I don’t think he’ll be dealt, no, but I’m no longer at the point where I’d be shocked if he was.
Andy: It seems like there is, and there has been, too much smoke for there to be no fire. I think he’ll be moved. I think the ultimate deal will be more complex than just two teams, player(s) for player(s), but I’ll guess the Knicks since that’s what the rumors have been.
Lucas: Despite the rumors flying around, I would still be at least moderately shocked if Rubio were moved prior to the deadline, if only out of denial. That being said, I can somewhat, vaguely, if I squint hard enough see the reasoning behind a Rubio/Rose swap. To be clear, I don’t think it would be a smart move, but if Thibodeau truly doesn’t think that Rubio is a great fit moving forward, trading him and using his salary to sign an interim point guard in free agency makes a little sense. If the Rose/Rubio trade goes down, it would indicate to me that the Wolves are thinking about being rather active this summer, especially if the Wolves acquire a 1st round pick as well (a first round pick would make the trade a little more palatable, but it still wouldn’t taste that good; they Wolves need to obtain a first round pick for me to be even the slightest bit ok with the move). They’d be clearing up as much cap space as possible (remember, they’ll waive Pekovic at some point, too) and would be compiling draft assets in a loaded class, perhaps for making a corresponding move later. However, this move could also be done around the draft and have the same effect. I dislike the idea of Rubio on the Knicks (he’s…not the ideal triangle point guard and the Knicks are a zoo) and I really dislike the idea of Derrick Rose in a Wolves’ jersey.
As for involving Joakim Noah as well, I think that’s clickbait. If Thibs really wanted Noah he would’ve signed him this summer.
Patrick: FAKE NEWS!
If Thibs decides to play the part of “seller” at the deadline, who could you see getting traded (other than Ricky, of course)? Do you think the Wolves ought to approach it that way?
Bill: I think a team looking for shooting could do a whole lot worse than Nemanja Bjelica and/or Brandon Rush. I mean, I’m talking about small deals, like future seconds for both. Sometimes, playoff teams want to round out their rotations with shooters. Why not dangle them and see what you can get in return?
Tim: Bazz is the easy answer. He brings in extra value and is going to be getting paid this summer. Getting rid of his deal now relieves Thibs of the burden of having to choose to keep or hold onto a decent bench piece.
Andy: If we assume a Ricky deal does happen, then it wouldn’t shock me if either Bazz or Bjelica were also included in the deal. With Bazz it would be a sweetener, and with Bjelica it would be the Wolves ditching a little more salary. I think Pek will go through the waiver and “career-ending injury” exclusion process soon, and because the Wolves are the only team that can exercise that option, I do not expect him to be traded.
Lucas: I could see Shabazz Muhammad being moved, but that’s about it. I don’t know if I really see anything happening before the deadline, to be honest. The off-season may be a different story, but everything we’re hearing from the local reporters seem to indicate that the Wolves aren’t necessarily pushing for trades. They’re testing the waters and if a good deal comes their way they’ll bite, but I don’t think they’ll make a move(s) to push for a playoff spot this season. I think we’ll see those moves over the summer. So, to answer the question, no I don’t think they should (or will) be sellers right now.
Patrick: Maybe Pek? (Eds. Note: Okay, maybe not.)
Zach: I think if the Wolves make a deal, even a crazy Rubio for Rose deal, it’s simply to create cap space. That seems to be Thibodeau’s M.O. so far. He loves the idea of cap space. He wants to make sure he has enough to make serious runs at veterans who may consider signing with the young guys. Clearing Rubio’s deal does that, and Pekovic’s cap number isn’t long for this world. Maybe we see that bridge point guard happen if they have an expiring deal.
On the flip side – say the Wolves do decide to be a “buyer.” Name one feasible target you’d like the Wolves to add. What would you give up for him?
Bill: If this stupid New York thing happens, I’d love for the Wolves to at least end up with either the Knicks’ first-round pick (top-three or -five protected is fine) or Willy Hernangomez, who is putting up a per-36 minute line of 15-14-3 on 54% shooting. That’s almost certainly a ridiculous pipe dream. But whatever. Don’t judge me.
Tim: Damian Lillard. I saw his name pop up in a tweet so I assume the Wolves are going to get him tomorrow.
Andy: This is probably dodging the question, but I’d prefer the Wolves “buy” future draft picks as part of any trade that goes down, as opposed to (realistic) players they might acquire. As the young core approaches their first contract extensions, the Wolves salary cap management will become trickier. If they can pick up an extra draft pick or two to be used down the road, it might help provide them with cheap depth when they need it most.
Lucas: Depends on your definition of feasible. I’d really like if they acquired P.J. Tucker, Patrick Patterson, or Patty Mills (I know I was only supposed to name one, but math was never my strong suite). Tucker is probably the only truly gettable one of the three at the moment and all of these players will be free agents this coming summer; I think they’d probably be better off snagging them then. I think there’s a misconception that the Wolves need to trade for or sign another borderline star/star for them to make the next jump. What I think they need most is quality depth, especially bench depth, and all three of these players would provide that and then some.
Patrick: [nods toward Zach Harper] Ricky Davis. He’s priceless.
Zach: Patrick Patterson. You risk him walking in free agency, but the Raptors have a lot of bigs and need a wing. I’d offer Bazz and a second for Patterson and just hope Masai Ujiri has been day drinking.
And finally… How many more years do you think it will be until a free agency/trade deadline period passes without every random former Bull being connected to the Wolves “because THIBS”? Will it ever stop? Or is this our new reality?
Bill: This is our life, now. Waits for Kirk Hinrich to get a 10-day contract.
Tim: I’m looking forward to Thibs pursuing Joakim Noah Jr. when 2-time MVP KAT is in his latter years, looking for a successor.
Andy: The rumors will continue until all of those former Bulls have undergone knee and hip replacement surgeries. Based on the wear and tear some of those guys are showing these days, it might not be as long as you’d think.
Lucas: It’ll never stop. I’ve never completely understood this narrative. Is Thibs interested in some of his ex-players because they’re his ex-players or because some of them are actually still good/serviceable and potentially fit a need? The ones that he was able to sign last summer (Noah and Deng, specifically) he passed on because they demanded too much money and/or are no longer as effective as they were in Chicago. For all the talk of him wanting his old players, none of them are currently on the roster (yet). I think it’s just a good (and I use good loosely here) way to drive traffic.
Patrick: I believe this will be the new-normal. It’s a negative externality of getting into the market for Thibs. Still, even if we prefer not to admit it, don’t we deep down believe that it’s Denzel Valentine’s destiny to play here before it’s all said and done?
Zach: It gets the clicks and the clicks rule our world. When do all of the Bulls who have played for Thibs retire? Does that happen before he’s no longer running this organization? That’s when I think it’ll end.