The All-Star break has come and gone. We learned Alexey Shved is a quiet leaper who can throw down Shawn Kemp-esque in-game dunks (reverse alley-oops, anyone?) and Ricky continues to be awesome. Tonight the Wolves awkwardly resume their season against Philadelphia in what is a very winnable game. However, at this point, do we want meaningless wins? Is it better to ride some positive momentum into the offseason, re-tool, hire a new training staff and try again? Or is it best to hope for the ping pong balls in a draft class with many a talented 2-guard available to help the Wolves fortify their future in a position of weakness since the dawn of time? It is always a burning question, generally asked by an abused fanbase, and with the playoff hopes all but dead, a top draft prospect never hurts (unless you are Kahn drafting, of course…hahahah! #first #newjoke #hilarious #creativity).
In terms of Philly, most of their scoring comes from the backcourt which is going to be a concern for Minnesota. Luke Ridnour vs. Evan Turner is going to be another one of those matchups where you just feel sorry for Luke. It isn't his fault. He tries. He is perhaps the most dependable scorer on the team (and with that said, I have no idea why we are trying to unload him), but as a starting SG by proxy, he has no choice but to get eviscerated by his matchup, and as a result his reputation defensively has, perhaps falsely, suffered.
The other necessity for the Wolves to end the season strong, is Pekovic getting rid of the inner-Darko that has been unleashed onto his game this past month. So many missed bunnies. So many non-dunks. Pek, you are enormous and are supposed to be intimidating. Destroy your competition and unleash some nasty dunks and finish strong. It was Pek's misses throughout the game that essentially cost the Wolves a win against the Jazz last Wednesday evening.
A final team note: Chase Budinger is likely very close to a return. It is going to be extremely pleasant to have him back in the lineup.
And now, on to fake trades! I hate fake trades. They typically are a manifestation of homerism, primarily from insane fans of teams such as the Lakers, Blazers and Knicks, rarely come to fruition, and more often that not approach such a level of absurdity on message boards where upwards of 6 teams and 37 players are involved in a potential mid-season transaction, and yet they are labeled by the poster as realistic. Fans typically overvalue their home-team players to such insane degrees, that it makes the discussion moot, and laughable especially from an outsider's perspective (e.g. Pau Gasol for Kevin Love, as offered by Misc. Lakers fan X). However, given the Wolves are active in talks, I thought it might be worthwhile to look at some potential deals the Wolves may actually be after with their current set of "assets" and apply some of the rumors that have circulated throughout February.
Please click "Read More" for all the fake trades of awesomeness…
1. MIN trades: Brandon Roy, Greg Stiemsma and a first round pick (MEM) to Denver for Timofey Mozgov and Wilson Chandler.
Last night, rumors circulated that Denver turned down a trade offer of Roy and a 1st for the wildly overrated, chief of the stiff clan Timofey Mozgov. This is not a great trade as-is for Minnesota, but I have two comments here: 1. The rejected rumor isn't even possible salary-wise. It had to have included more from Denver coming out, and thus was definitely a leak from Denver's end in an effort to drive up Moz's value. This happens constantly around this time, and as such I am guessing the trade rumor was actually something more resembling the above 2. In principle, although maybe not talent-wise, the initial trade rumor makes sense. Mozgov is on the Wolves' radar this offseason as a replacement for Stiemsma in free agency. He is a restricted free agent. Acquiring, essentially, the right to audition a free agent prospect for a 30-game stretch while also getting right of first refusal on his contract extension is smart GM-ing. The Nuggets GM did this very thing last year with JaVale McGee.
But Mozgov is not very good, so there's that.
As for the above trade, it is a big stretch for Denver to give up Wilson for little return, but he would be an excellent fit here in Minnesota as a 6th-man wing who can shoot it. He potentially clashes with Bud off the bench, but those two would form a nice tandem long-term, although then Shved gets buried. Denver considers this move to get rid of Wilson's contract, which the Wolves absorb. Regardless, Denver probably wouldn't do this trade without a better player coming back in return.
2. MIN trades: Luke Ridnour and a future 1st round pick. CHA trades: Gerald Henderson
Charlotte is a logical trade partner for the Wolves, for they have a nice SG in Gerald Henderson. They also have a raw, defensive big man in Bismack "Bitchsmack" Biyumbo who could perhaps be acquired in an extrapolated version of this trade. Rumors of Charlotte's willingness to trade Henderson for a first round pick are out there, and the Wolves could very well jump on it. Ridnour is essentially a placeholder here. The trade could also be something along the lines of Roy and a first for Reggie Williams and Henderson, but the goal would be for the Wolves to get Henderson while shedding a redundant guard on the roster. Another option could be to add DWill to this equation in return for Biyombo, as we have discussed in the forums here ad-nauseum for nearly two years.
Of course, the reason Charlotte wants to off Henderson is because he is a free agent, albeit restricted, and thus his salary would likely double starting next season. Alas, starting SG's are not cheap and Henderson is not a bad look. Still, and as you will soon see in the other realistic scenarios, the long-term salary implications hurt the chances of the Wolves making a quality, forward-looking trade and that caveat certainly applies to the above deal.
3. MIN trades: Derrick Williams. DAL Trades: OJ Mayo
Let this be the starting point of a mayonnaise-based roster move. It is no secret that Mark Cuban was the first owner to understand the long-term ramifications of the luxury tax. He let Tyson Chandler go after a championship, and let JJ Barea go on to pretend to star in Minnesota. He followed that up this summer by somehow landing two solid free agents (Kaman and Mayo) on 1-year deals to minimize his long-term salary commitments while still remaining competitive in the short-term. That being said, it makes sense for the Mavericks to heavily shop OJ in an effort to get a return on a short-term investment, as they are probably not going to be in line to sign him to a long-term contract this summer. OJ fits the bill in Minny, as he always sort of has, but the massive risk is that OJ could very well bolt as an UFA and land with the highest bidder. While it would be nice if extensions could be signed prior to trades, such an option as the above (with perhaps other sweeteners added) is probably too big of a risk. You could substitute "Orlando" and "JJ Redick" throughout most of this paragraph and have the same logic apply, so we will avoid the redundancy with Redick.
4. MIN Trades: Derrick Williams, Malcolm Lee, future 1st round pick. ORL Trades: Arron Afflalo
This might be my dream trade among those realistic. Afflalo is such a brilliant fit and provides the Wolves with a solid, very above-average shooting guard for years to come. This allows Orlando to make some room for Redick as well. The main issue affecting the Wolves' trade prospects with Orlando is they have Glen Davis and the rising Andrew Nicholson manning the PF spots, so Orlando probably passes on DWill or mandates the Wolves take on Big Baby in return in some capacity. Dare I say it, but a deal around Alexey Shved and our own first round pick or even AK47 would be worth the price to get Afflalo here long-term. He is perhaps the most underrated player in the league not named Marc Gasol. Among the trades listed here, this is perhaps the most sensible for the long-term outlook of the team and doesn't add in the "free agency" factor to any of these discussions. It actually is a trade prospect that makes sense, even if the Wolves were still in the playoff hunt, and isn't just some off effort to trade Luke Ridnour for an inferior player just for the sake of doing so.
However, more "issues:" The Wolves' unwillingness to take on long-term salary hurts any chances of a trade for someone actually good, like Afflalo. This logic also applies to acquiring Courtney Lee, although on a smaller scale (but it sure makes sense for Boston to get a PG such as Luke for the rest of the year, doesn't it?).
Glen Taylor, everyone!
5. MIN Trades: Luke Ridnour. UTA Trades: Alec Burks, Jeremy Evans, the rights to swap 2nd round picks in 2018
Minnesota and Utah are linked in trade discussions, with the Wolves eyeing Hayward primarily, who has had his role reduced this season. Hayward may look like he is 7 years old, but he plays a good game and would be a good trade prospect. However, since Alec Burks rumors circulated a few weeks ago, the above is an option. I'm not sure the point of trading Luke for an unproven prospect at this point, but Utah sure needs the backcourt help in a bad way and thus the Wolves do hold some leverage in trade discussions with the Jazz.
Others to consider: Kyle Korver, Anthony Morrow, Jordan Crawford, Steve Novak, Iman Shumpert, Carlos Delfino
Net, net, barring a miracle, the options for the Wolves to make a deal that makes sense both short-term and long-term are minimal. Poking around the interwebs, it seems as if other teams are asking for absurd amounts of compensation for role-players, and those prices are not ones the Wolves should pay. It just isn't a buyers market at this point given how many teams are still in the playoff hunt.
Personally, I have zero interest in trading our own pick at this point (with exceptions of course, see: Afflalo, Arron), given the SG talent in this draft is quite solid. It also seems to make little sense to move Luke, one of our most dependable players for, well, going on three years now. Ideally, with a healthy roster, Luke resumes his role as a very solid backup PG next season. I just don't see how the Wolves are going to make a deal before the deadline.
Odds of the Wolves making a deal: 10%