Execs Believe Wolves Prefer To Trade No. 1 Pick

Executives around the NBA believe the Timberwolves would prefer to trade the No. 1 pick, moving down from – or entirely out of – that spot in order to bring in a win-now player, says Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer in his latest mock draft.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard that Minnesota is open to trading the top pick. In fact, trade rumors have swirled around the No. 1 selection since the team won the draft lottery in August. However, O’Connor’s assertion that the Timberwolves would be targeting a “win-now” player to complement Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell provides a hint of what sort of deal they’ll be seeking if and when they shop that first overall pick.

The Wolves don’t project to have cap room this offseason and don’t have any useful trade exceptions available, so they won’t be able to trade the pick straight up for a veteran player (or for a veteran and another pick). However, James Johnson‘s expiring $16MM contract could be used as a trade chip to match salaries if necessary.

With no clear-cut top prospect in this year’s draft class, the Timberwolves won’t have an easy decision if they keep the No. 1 pick. As Sam Vecenie of The Athletic observed earlier this week, LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, and James Wiseman are widely viewed as this year’s highest-upside prospects and are the top contenders for the No. 1 pick, but none of them are ideal fits for Minnesota’s roster.

The Wolves could badly use a strong two-way player who would help make up for Russell’s and Towns’ defensive shortcomings. Ball and Edwards aren’t strong defenders, so they don’t really fit that bill. Wiseman has more upside on that side of the ball, but might have a hard time playing alongside Towns, as Vecenie writes.

Since the league as a whole isn’t overly enthusiastic about this year’s top prospects, it will be a challenge for Minnesota to find a favorable trade involving the No. 1 pick, per Vecenie. Still, The Athletic’s draft guru feels as if a deal might be in the Wolves’ best interests even if the return is “a bit more muted” than it would’ve been for the first overall pick in another draft.

President of basketball operations Gersson Rosas has turned over nearly the entire Timberwolves roster since assuming control of the front office in 2019, so he won’t be hesitant to make a splash if he gets an offer he likes. The NBA’s transaction moratorium remains in place for the time being, but with five more weeks until draft day, Rosas has plenty of time to see what’s out there.

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69 thoughts on “Execs Believe Wolves Prefer To Trade No. 1 Pick

    • Appalachian_Outlaw

      I don’t hate it, as a Charlotte fan. Of the 3 consensus top prospects, Edwards is the most intriguing, I think. I’d hope they’d be doing it to land him. If not, I’d sooner see Charlotte attempt to trade down and add an extra pick next year.

    • phillyballers

      What does that even do for the Wolves? Both players are trash.

      • Appalachian_Outlaw

        Zeller is a serviceable front court player, good for 10 and 5 a night. Monk has made strides. They’re not stars, but they’re not trash either. I mean Philly just paid 100m for what is now a 10 & 5 guy in Horford.

        • phillyballers

          They’re trash. I didn’t sign Horford. Horford wasn’t always trash, but at age 90, now he is trash. Only problem is Horford has no relevance to my comment about the Wolves acquiring 2 trash players for the #1 overall pick.

          • Appalachian_Outlaw

            Sure it’s relevant. Philly had championship aspirations, did they not? They obviously didn’t feel Horford was trash because they gave him 100m dollars to come there, which shows players of the ability (Zeller included) have value to competing teams. There aren’t 25 Anthony Davises floating around, but other guys can help you.

            • phillyballers

              Horford isn’t on the Hornets and he isn’t getting traded for the #1 overall pick so… your not connecting the dots.

              The few times that the #1 overall pick was traded for an established player since 1980 it netted Robert Parish (HOF), Roy Hinson, and Kevin Love (74% HOF probability).

              Parish avg’d 17 and 11 over 2 years before the trade.
              Love was a 3x All Star. Hinson was averaging almost 20 pts and 8 rbs before the trade, he looked like a future All Star – didn’t pan out like that unfortunately.

              So you’re trading the #1 overall pick for two trash heap guys in Zeller and Monk when previously it was used to net 2 HOF players and what looked like a breakout player. Monk won’t even get the QO next year. Zeller may get the vet min next year. If you’re a Hornets homer… I’m sorry but there’s a reason you’re in the lottery each year – bad draft picks like Zeller and Monk.

              #1 Pick + James Johnson + Culver + Layman (25.91M) is the premise for a trade for a Top-30 player to play with KAT and DLo.

              • hiflew

                Well, in fairness, neither Robert Parish nor Kevin Love were not HOFers when the deals were made. Plus, Love was dealt for much more highly regarded #1 pick in Andrew Wiggins. And Wiggins was dealt along with the previous year’s #1 in Bennett (when he was still a prospect) and Thaddeus Young through the third team in the deal. And the Parish deal was not 1 for 1 either. It was Parish and #3 for #1 and #13. Sure that deal turned out to be one of the best in Celtics history, but not on the day it was made.

                Although the Roy Hinson deal brings up a close comp. Hinson was pick #20 3 years prior to that deal and accumulated 15 win shares in his first 3 years. A similar player to that would be John Collins. He was pick #19 3 years ago and accumulated 16 win shares in his first 3 years.

              • Appalachian_Outlaw

                No, I get it, you think the Wolves are going to move the #1 in a weak draft, plus James Johnson (who is similar to Malik Monk in that they’re young and working on their game) and TWO 10 & 5 a night guys in Culver & Layman for a top 30 player. I just find that stance odd. This isn’t a draft where there is a LeBron, or even a Zion at the top. No one is stepping immediately into that star role. You’re proposing that asset is valuable enough when paired with Minnesota’s serviceable parts to get a star; but the OP’s original idea of two serviceable players plus the #3 pick and a 2nd rounder isn’t valuable enough for the Wolves to move down two spots?

                No one is proposing just Monk and Zeller for the #1 pick, naturally.

                • Appalachian_Outlaw

                  *Sorry, not James Johnson, meant to say Culver is young. Early and got crossed up in my thoughts.

  1. Noel1982

    Somehow pick 1 is of no interest but pick 2 and the negative asset Wiggins can get warriors whatever superstar they want lol

    • Gary

      You keep saying the same thing in every Warriors article… and also in the two bucks articles that appeared this year. We get it, you don’t think it’ll happen. In fact I think you said it twice here in one article !! We get it.

        • Gary

          We’ll see. Not too many Executives keep their jobs when free agents walk out the door for nothing when their contract is over. Either Giannis signs an extension this offseason before the season starts.. or he gets traded now or at the deadline. There’s no way the Bucks let him walk for free. Then it’s up to Milwaukee to find the best deal possible.

          Not too many teams can put together a package that’s acceptable without destroying the Hub of the team. Remember, you have to send out 25 million dollars in salary. That usually means one of your core guys unless you’re the Warriors. Bingo. Introducing Andrew Wiggins.

  2. Sillivan

    Two players want out
    Oladipo and Hield

    Try to make 3-team trade, and will be tougher than expected.

  3. 13Morgs13
    13Morgs13

    Nobody wants the 1st pick in a weak draft. The best prospect in this draft is Wiseman.

    • Noel1982

      So how do warriors fans expect to get Giannis by the draft for the weak pick 2 and. Terribly negative contract and player in Wiggins

      • Gary

        If I knew the answer to that I wouldn’t be sitting here typing with you in my underwear in my living room. That’s why they pay Bob Myers big bucks. Just watch it happen, relax and enjoy.

      • The Howler

        Wiggins closest comp player is Danny Vranes who played 7 years in the 80s. Enough said.

        • Gary

          When did Danny Vranes average DOUBLE FIGURES in points for a season? EVER? Wiggins averages 20 points every year. Did you just pluck that name out of Seattle’s history books for the 80s? I’f you’re going there, I’d say Wiggins is more like teammate Tom Chambers LOL.

          A lot of scoring, not so great teammate, and selfish. Made an All-Star team though. Couldn’t rebound or play defense or hit a shot in the closing minutes of a ball game. There’s your comp. Put Tom Chambers on the Warriors though and the guy’s a stud as he learns how to play basketball for real.

          • El Don

            Tom Chambers in a great legend, the guy was unbelievable good… a super star! Wigs will never be as good in all his career as Tom was in a single year as a matter of fact!

            • Gary

              El Don you’re giving me nothing to support what you’re saying. You’re just stating he was great and nothing behind it? What made Tom Chambers so good besides anything I said above? He could score in a variety of ways. So can Andrew Wiggins. Tom Chambers never made it past the second round even though he had Kevin Johnson and others as part of great teams. He was not a Primetime player, he was a guy who could get you 20, but he couldn’t get you two.

    • hiflew

      What makes it a weak draft is that no one knows which prospect is the best. This is not a Zion draft. It’s not a Ben Simmons draft. It’s not even an Andrew Wiggins draft. Anthony Edwards is a decent prospect, but in a normal year, he would barely qualify as a top 10 prospect. Same with Ball and Wiseman.

    • Sillivan

      IMO
      The best trade for Horford is

      76ers get Hield
      Kings get two young players from third team
      Third team get Horford and 2 Firsts and 2 seconds

      • Lefty_Orioles_Fan
        Lefty_Orioles_Fan

        You don’t know what is good.
        Also, I could throw in Ben Simmons

    • phillyballers

      Someone that actually pays attention. That’s the guy they want.

      #1, Culver, Johnson l

      • hiflew

        They can want all they want, but the Suns would be fools to do that. They are just starting to come out of a long rebuild and look like they might have a decent team built for the next few years. Why would they trade their best player for another unknown, even the #1 unknown, before they even get started with this rebuilt team?

  4. fishy 9 dogs

    NY gets: #1
    Wolves get: #8, 2021 unprotected 1st

    NY gets their flashy star pg
    Wolves restock the cupboards and get a lot more flexibility in the trade market.

    Not a flashy trade, but I think it works well for both sides.

    • BG99

      The end of the article states the Wolves are in a win-now situation. Win-now teams don’t put importance on restocking their cupboard.

      In fact, it’s the anti-thesis of win-now.

      • hiflew

        They could always use the 8 to trade from a player to help them now and pocket the likely great pick in 2021.

        With the 8 paired with Johnson you could probably pick up a very good player to fit in. Myles Turner comes to mind. As does Eric Bledsoe.

      • fishy 9 dogs

        Restocking the cupboards means trade flexibility to go for a big fish.

        • El Don

          Out there they ain’t bigger fish than KAT, he is a megastar if I ever saw one! They lookin’ for a 2nd/3rd guy not a superstar!

  5. The Howler

    I believe that had a strong two-way player two seasons ago…what was that guy’s name…oh yeah…Jimmy Butler. He flew the coop because some players were mentally soft.

  6. Jason Lancaster

    Beal is probably a long shot, but it makes sense for both teams. Washington needs to get younger and cut long term money, and Minny isn’t going to give up a first overall pick for a player that can leave in a year or two (like Oladipo).

    Johnson + Beasley S&T + #1 overall for Beal makes the math work.

    Of course, the Wizards can trade Beal anytime they want for a haul, so they have no incentive to do this now. Minny probably just holds the pick, or does something stupid with Danny Ainge…

    • phillyballers

      No one else will give the the #1 overall pick for Beal, all the teams that want him won’t have it before his contract is up.

    • Jason Lancaster

      Why would Phoenix break up the team that went 8-0 in the bubble?

      • The Howler

        I think they also had two 7 or 8 game losing streaks before the bubble. Confirmation bias!

        • Jason Lancaster

          I’m not saying that they should or shouldn’t, I’m saying that I don’t think they will. Trades are risky, and the owner in Phoenix isn’t super understanding. I guarantee they stand pat.

    • masisk33

      great for the wolves, terrible for the suns
      would be nice to have rubio back

  7. greg1

    Wolves should be looking to make the Knicks their Huckleberry. Knicks want Ball, and a guy like Okoro would make more sense for the Wolves. No reason why the Wolves couldn’t get multiple picks, including #8 from the Knicks along with someone like Frank to play switchable defense.

    • stevep-4

      Yes, I was thinking the same thing. Culver + Johnson for Ntilikina + Julius Randle, and a swap of picks.

      But Al’s comment below also has some truth to it.

      • phillyballers

        Ntilikina and Randle have negative value. Why would they do that?

  8. KnickerbockerAl

    Thibs is not taking Ball. Leave the koolaid alone. Get a real thought. Minny is not trading out. Beasley could be gone and really should be gone. Edwards is god given right now. A trade for an injured Oladipo, why. Edwards is considered a true talent. With big time 2way potential. He’s bigger than most if not all 2 guards now. He’s still growing. They are not passing on that. I don’t see a big trade that would get them to do it. I guess there’s a chance someone could blow them away. But they are fools if they pass on Edwards. Minny also has the 17th pick. And ca get a D 4 there. A good one,’like Achiuwa or Carey Jr, Stewart. They are not trading out. It’s all smoke. Warriors are a team with biggest chance to trade out.

  9. I’m sure the Wolves, like almost every team at the top of this draft, would prefer to trade down.

    Knicks shouldn’t bail them or GSW out. The new FO needs to build the asset base, not deplete it for one consensus high pick in a draft with no consensus. There are plenty of future quality starters at #8. Impress by finding one they like and picking him. If they can trade down and get one, that’s even better. But they don’t need to trade up from #8 to get one. They can impress with a trade up from #27.

  10. x%sure

    I would like to see Lamelo added to Deangelo. But maybe neither one likes the idea, nor Edwards if he’s the pick. Actually few other prospects would probably like the idea of being drafted by the Wolves, and that their two stars are friends does not help. In a prospect’s dreams, if there’s a conflict, it would always be 2 to 1 against him. Kind of spoils the dream!

    It might then be a good call by Rossas to trade the pick… if questions were asked, and answers heeded. He needs someone established, unafraid… Jimmy Butler! Oops.
    Gotta keep thinking.

    • x%sure

      Some people think the pingpongballs are manipulated by the league, but I can’t imagine Silver would want to have arranged this much instability.

  11. Dodgethis

    While they have a new coach, they are ultimately still run by the same guy. New York has been desperate for a star for forever now. Because it’s such a terrible idea is exactly why the Knicks will trade up for ball. Across town they have durant, irving, and jordan, they need a name. Ball is the only player who brings name power and excitement. The Knicks would also greatly benefit from a gifted ball handler. They will try to trade up to 1 or 2 to get him, probably with a 3 team trade because min and gs both need a veteran.

  12. Would the Pelicans/Wolves/Ingram consider a sign & trade? Wolves get a win-now player, Pels get #1 pick plus other draft capital and Johnson’s expiring. Pels stock young assets and free cap room for future

  13. masisk33

    Wolves take Wiseman #1! Move KAT to the 4. Or trade down for Okoro! Obvious fits with this roster.

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