This is a three-part series detailing the three mediums through which the Wolves can improve their roster: Free agency, trades and the draft; and who they could possibly target via those outlets.
Part I of this series focused on the approach the Wolves should take heading into free agency as well as a few names they could go after. Part II is going to focus on potential trades.
If free agency isn’t the way to look for immediate impact from a great player, then perhaps the Wolves look to the trade market. Big names such as Dwight Howard will float around all summer. The problem is the Wolves don’t have the extra assets to sweeten any deal. Rubio, Love and Pek are likely untouchable, leaving very little left to swing a trade.
The biggest piece they have to build a deal around is Derrick Williams. Williams’ rookie campaign was neither a homerun or a strikeout; it was sort of like a hard-hit liner to right field, so it only came out as a single. He showed that he is strong enough to battle underneath but possesses that soft touch to hit some threes when he has to (Maybe a little too often even). His defense isn’t good and it’s mostly a problem because Adelman couldn’t figure out what type of player he can guard. There’s no question that he has the moves on offense to play a small forward and attack as well as hit the jump shot, but he certainly can’t guard the opposition on the other end.
Because Williams is still full of potential, he’s the likeliest candidate of this young core to be dealt away, probably paired with the 18th pick. Now the question is what can they get for a package like that. Before I get into that, let’s look at Kahn’s trade history thus far. He made the deal for Michael Beasley, shipping away a second-rounder and a peanut butter sandwich — Not actually — which was certainly worth the price of giving Beaz the audition. Kahn also swung multiple deals last draft to accumulate some cash and stayed away from picking a player they really didn’t need.
So clearly Kahn has a knack for getting some good value out of trades. It’s been nothing extraordinary but good. This offseason could be drastically different, as Kahn will look for bigger names in a more headlining type of deal. Of course he can still take it easy and just look to break even by bringing in a simple role player just to shake up the roster. But I believe it’s time to dream bigger than that.
With that, here are five potential trades that could mean immediate impact both on and off the court.
#1: Derrick Williams, #18 pick and Luke Ridnour to the LA Lakers for Pau Gasol
Gasol’s name has been floating around the trade rumor bin for a while now. It’s about time someone does something about it. There are likely going to be more glitzy packages out there for Gasol but this one makes a lot of sense for both sides.
The Wolves are indeed giving up a lot but what people need to start realizing — again — is that Gasol is a former all-star and one of the NBA’s best big men. He had an incredibly down year but there’s no reason to think that it’s the start of a trend. Lakers head coach Mike Brown implemented, well, nothing in terms of offense. Switching from the extravagant triangle offense in which Gasol excelled to a simplified pick-and-roll offense is like transferring from aeronautics to algebra; it’s so simple that it’s actually difficult. I don’t think all of the pressure in LA and the rumors swirling helped that team’s chemistry either.
Gasol would fit in much better here than he does currently in LA. The Lakers of old are done, and once they realize that, bringing in Williams to groom would be a very good addition. Just like the Lakers, the Wolves of old are now done and moved on with a youthful roster but need a veteran or two sprinkled in to gain a sense of leadership and guidance.
Gasol has all the intangibles to fit in nicely with fellow Spaniard and friend Rubio as well as the rest of the crew. Although his defensive skills aren’t exactly what the Wolves are looking for, you just can’t pass up the opportunity to grab one of the game’s elite big men to form a scary frontcourt in Love, Pekovic and then Gasol.
#2: Derrick Williams, #18 pick and Brad Miller’s contract to the Memphis Grizzlies for Rudy Gay
I mentioned in Part I at how OJ Mayo is a legit target to go after in free agency. Well, if the Grizzlies indeed want him back, they may need to shed some cap space to do it, which means Gay could be on the outside looking in.
Gay was part of the strong recruiting class Kahn attempted back in 2010. But before he could board his plane to Minneapolis, the Grizzlies called back and said they’d offer him the max to stay in Memphis. Game over. Now the Grizzlies have their hands tied behind their backs because they have a lot of money invested into just three players, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Gay (Even Mike Conley makes a hefty paycheck). In order to balance out the budget and roster, one of those guys will have to move, and the easiest would have to be Gay.
The Wolves have been pleading for a player of Gay’s caliber ever since Garnett left. Sure, we found one in Love but nothing beats having a versatile and freakishly athletic wing player who can score all over the court. We’ve never had that, unless you count JR Rider.
Again, the price could be steep but with this one you may even need to sweeten the deal that much more because of Gay’s age compared to Gasol. And, just like Gasol that I forgot to mention, Gay is owed a lot of money, $15+ a year for the next four years. That crimps any chance of resigning Pekovic and maybe even Rubio. GASP!
So is it worth it? Probably. You have to look at it in the short term. Could Gay, a fantastic scorer and stout defender, propel the current roster to championship hopes within the next 3-4 years? I think so.
#3: Derrick Williams, #18 and Luke Ridnour to the Indiana Pacers for Danny Granger and Darren Collison
D-Will, and good draft pick and cool-hand Luke all for Granger and Collison? Yup.
Williams, again, is the easiest piece to formulate any sort of trade, and in this one, just like #2, they get back a wing who can score religiously and may be on the fritz with their current squad. Granger, despite posting great numbers for the last six years in Indianapolis, is ready to be moved aside for a younger, bigger, more athletic player in Paul George. And now at 29 years of age, a lot of teams may look to Granger with a sense of caution. But not the Wolves. Not a team so desperate for a scorer at the 2 or 3 positions.
Granger would come into Minny and immediately start at the 3, keeping Wes Johnson at the 2 — Yikes. Just imagine the size of that perimeter, though, Rubio at 6’4″, Johnson at 6’7″ and Granger at 6’8″. Granger possesses all of the tools to get to the basket as well as hit open threes more consistently then our former small forward, Beasley.
Now, I’m sure many of you are wondering why exchange Ridnour for Collison. My answer: Why not? Ridnour would be missed indeed but Collison is a cheaper option as a backup with more defensive capabilities. JJ Barea and Collison may seem redundant but not when it comes to defense, and that’s why it’s worth the switch. It’s just a way to shake things up a little bit but also bring another dynamic to the backcourt at a cheaper price tag.
#4: Derrick Williams, #18, future first rounder and Luke Ridnour to the Sacramento Kings for Tyreke Evans
I’m dreaming now. The others are more than plausible, but this, this right here, probably not. But hear me out because it’s not completely farfetched.
Tyreke Evans, since winning the Rookie of the Year award in 2010, has seen a steady decline in his production. You can blame the injuries but I also have to point out that the Kings just aren’t the team for him; as much as he thinks he’s a point guard, he still needs a true ball-handler at the point to set him up for success. That point guard can be Ricky Rubio, no doubt. Rubio and Evans could form a fearless backcourt, strong enough to hang with any of the West’s guard combos. They would be big, fast and a steamrolling monster on offense with a plethora of ways to score.
The Kings would get a special deal here but they also take a risk. First off, they pair DeMarcus Cousins with a true power forward next to him in Williams and also score with the two first rounders headed their way. But shipping off Evans puts a serious dent in their plans for a true point. Can tiny Isaiah Thomas fill that role? Or even, dare I say, Jimmer Fredette handle the bulk of responsibility at the point?
That’s the art of trades, though. In a league full of intelligent businessmen, you have to sacrifice value to gain value. It’s all in the eye of the beholder.
#5: Derrick Williams and #18 to the Golden State Warriors for Klay Thompson and #7
Now back to reality. This is arguably the most realistic, fair and probably my favorite deal. It’s not a groundbreaker only getting the sure player in Thompson but he’s a darn good one at that. Thompson would come in and fill that huge need of a sharpshooting guard to pair with Rubio. That duo could combine for 100-plus dimes-to-treys easily, considering how deep Rubio can penetrate the lane and kick the ball out to a likely wide-open Thompson. It could be deadly.
The sweetener in this deal is obviously the draft pick coming back from the Warriors. I believe it’s possible they move out because Williams was the second overall pick last summer and Thompson was taken at 11. To balance out the trade, the two squads exchange draft picks and both teams go home happy. The Wolves move up for a chance to improve their front court and the Warriors move back to 18 in a very good draft from picks 1 thru 20.
Now I just want to finish with this disclosure: None of these trades are actual rumors at the moment. Some were formed off of rumors and that’s it. The likelihood any of these happen are about as likely as David Kahn reading this himself and writing me a letter thanking me for my recommendations.