Although the Timberwolves were encouraged by last season’s success, there was an “overwhelming feeling internally” that the team would hit a wall before becoming a legitimate title contender if it didn’t make at least one more major upgrade, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.
That line of thought was the motivation behind the team’s blockbuster trade agreement for three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. As Krawczynski explains, the front office had a hard time identifying another player around the NBA who could address so many of the club’s weaknesses and would be available for the package Minnesota was willing to offer.
The Timberwolves anticipate Gobert will make life easier for his new teammates, allowing them to take more gambles on defense and giving D’Angelo Russell a pick-and-roll partner who sets good screens and can be a lob threat.
The Wolves also believe they can make Gobert’s life easier — Minnesota has stronger perimeter defenders (Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels, Kyle Anderson, Taurean Prince) than Utah did, and Karl-Anthony Towns‘ ability to make outside shots will complement Gobert’s inside game, Krawczynski notes.
Here’s more on the Wolves and their roster shake-up:
- Sources tell Krawczynski that Gobert has expressed excitement about playing with the Timberwolves and that Towns was especially supportive of the move.
- According to Krawczynski, Wolves sources were pessimistic throughout the process that an agreement would actually be reached, and a deal looked to be “in peril” as of Friday morning. Minnesota was prepared to shift its focus to other targets like Myles Turner or Clint Capela before the Gobert talks gained traction again later on Friday when Utah agreed to do a deal without McDaniels included.
- Before striking a deal for Gobert, the Wolves made “several calls” to the Nets about Kevin Durant, sources tell Krawczynski. However, Minnesota was unwilling to give up Edwards or Towns for Durant, so those talks didn’t go far.
- The Timberwolves were also in the mix for Dejounte Murray and could have outbid the Hawks for him, but the fact that they didn’t shows that they valued Gobert more, observes Krawczynski.
- Chris Hine of The Star Tribune takes a closer look at the impact the acquisition of Gobert will have on the Wolves both offensively and defensively, as well as from a salary cap perspective.