On Tuesday evening, the Wolves solidified the inevitable and secured the 9th pick in the draft. As lottery non-winners for the 15th-ish time, this likely came as no surprise to a team that had roughly a 95% chance to not move up. The Cavs won pick #1 again. Life goes on. The only real solace we can gain out of this is not having moved back a spot. So what should the Wolves do at pick #9? The immediate gut instinct is to push for a trade-up, right? Sorry to burst any bubbles, but it may not even be worth the time to consider the possibility.
Look, as soon as the lottery results are revealed, the fact of the matter is dozens upon dozens of folks, including myself, start spewing out fake trades on how the Wolves could move up in the draft. It is sort like a new "season" of sorts, similar to hunting, fishing or intramural badminton, with the ideas generally becoming more and more preposterous, unlikely, impossible, homerish, or even anti-homerish (such as trading Kevin Love to move up, just wait, someone will come up with the idea) as time goes on.
Let's think of things this way. Why would the Wolves move up in the draft? I can think of only one player truly worth moving up for that might be an option due to draft positioning: Victor Oladipo. Victor has shot up the draft boards and at the very least is all but guaranteed to be drafted in the top 5. Otto Porter? Perhaps, but he may go even higher than Victory O. So, let's play a little game. Since 2005 (when I stopped looking or trade records were getting harder to find or decipher from internet 1.0 pages), see if you can take a guess on how many trades have been made involving a team moving from pick 6-10 into the top 5?
Hint: It rhymes with "Euro"
Yup, zero times! No team has done it in at least the last eight drafts, and probably more. What we have seen are only two post-lottery transactions involving top 5 picks, coincidentally both involving the Wolves and both being arguably two of the top 3-4 moves in franchise history: Kahn sending Randy Foye and Mike Miller to the Wizards for the #5 pick in 2009, and in 2008 the Wolves moving back from 3 to 5 and acquiring Kevin Love for OJ Mayo. Aside from that, there have been a total of zero moves involving top 5 picks after the lottery, and a total of zero moves involving a team moving into the top 5 by packaging an inferior pick with players.
Why might this be the case? It takes two to tango. The team with the higher pick is usually young, bad, and wants to build its roster with a potential stud/unknown and will only move back if it gets a legitimate stud/star-level veteran in return (unless of course you are the 2009 Wizards, and let's just pretend Flip didn't have a say in that move). The team with the lower pick, in turn, sees value at their poorer position but is unwilling to part with a key rotation player since it was a better team to begin with, perhaps on the cusp of a playoff berth the previous season but plans were derailed for whatever reason (such as your Wolves). This, in turn, is a dreadful matchup in trade and, thus, it almost never works. The only real move-up and move-backs involve picks that were both higher to begin with, among teams completely rebuilding.
Needless to say, it remains exceedingly unlikely we will see the Wolves move up. The slightly more likely (yet still pretty unlikely) scenario would be the Wolves trading some existing players and acquiring a new pick outright, or trading out altogether. We have seen a few of these moves over the years (Rubio, and Ray Allen to Boston for Jeff Green the 5th pick in 2007), but the fact of the matter is outside of Kirilenko the Wolves don't exactly have a good package to put together to make such a move, nor does it fit at all with the current strategy of the front office. And if anyone thinks D-Will is worth a top 5 pick in any draft….well, yeah. Get real.
But let's pretend the Wolves were going to take a crack at altering modern draft history; I mean we have to at least go there right? It's "preposterous fake trade season" after all. The most likely trade partner would probably be the Charlotte Bobcats, currently with the #4 pick. Charlotte is rumored to be open to dealing the pick (as always) despite the fact that Victor Oladipo would be a really good fit for them with Gerald Henderson entering free agency. In order to make a trade worth it with Charlotte, the Wolves would have to offer up two players at the very least in order to make the inevitable occur: acquiring the pick while absorbing the contract of Tyrus Thomas, who has two years and $18 million left on his deal. This would mean the most likely package would be something along the lines of pick #9, Derrick Williams and Greg Stiemsma's non-guaranteed deal in exchange for pick #4 and Tyrus Thomas. And I don't know about you, but I can totally see why neither team would be overly excited about making that trade.
So, the inevitable remains: the Wolves are more than likely standing pat this draft, as that is simply just what happens with teams in the top 10. Prices are too high for buyers and offers too low for sellers. A spiral that typically ends with a perfectly clean top 10, and a dozen or so trades involving cash and future picks after the lottery. This is why it may make sense for the Wolves to simply go after bench help this draft and round out the shooting guard position through trade and free agency. Or simply trade out of it outright (Arron Afflalo, anyone?!?). We will discuss early draft options at #9 and other offseason stuff next week.
Until then, enjoy your Memorial Day weekend.