After mortgaging much of their future in the hopes of improving their present, the Timberwolves finished the 2022/23 season with a middling record and a first-round playoff exit. Now, the team faces questions about its roster ahead of an uncertain offseason, writes Michael Rand of The Star Tribune.
Rand wonders how Minnesota will deal with the NBA’s impending CBA, which will impose significant restrictions on big-spending teams. Paying three players on maximum salaries could severely limit the Wolves’ ability to build around those players, and it remains unclear just how well Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert and the extension-eligible Anthony Edwards fit together. Rand also wonders if Gobert can improve next season, how good the team as currently comprised can realistically be, and more.
Bobby Marks of ESPN spoke with Rand on The Star Tribune’s Daily Delivery podcast about Minnesota’s outlook.
“You have one of the top wings in the NBA on your roster [in Edwards], and there’s still a huge upside to him,” Marks said. “You have a very trade-able player in Karl if you ever wanted to pivot. You have one of the better defenders in the league in [Jaden] McDaniels… The downside is that you’ve boxed yourself into a corner a little bit.”
There’s more out of the Northwest Division:
- The Jazz have a fascinating team with some intriguing young players, as well as a cadre of future draft picks. In a lengthy new piece, Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune (subscriber link) breaks down several star trade options the team could consider to surround incumbent All-Star power forward Lauri Markkanen. Walden floats Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine, Mavericks point guard Luka Doncic, and Nuggets small forward Michael Porter Jr. as potential targets.
- If the Trail Blazers ultimately opt to trade All-Star point guard Damian Lillard, executives believe Portland would also want to attach center Jusuf Nurkic in a deal, per Sean Deveney of Heavy.com. Nurkic is currently in the second season of a four-year, $70MM contract with the club. “I would not say it would be a package deal or anything like that,” an Eastern Conference GM told Deveney. “But Portland is going to prefer where they can trade Dame and say, ‘Here’s Nurk, too.’ … Put (Nurkic) into a deal and you have some more flexibility in terms of what you’re getting back, and you can get yourself really set up for rebuilding.”
- The Trail Blazers have made some new hires in the front office of their new, as-yet-unnamed G League affiliate club, the team has announced in a press statement. Longtime Portland executive Danny Connors is the club’s new GM, while former University of Portland standout Pooh Jeter will work under him as the assistant GM.