A trade is pretty much out of the question. But after a summer of speculation and action on the value each Wolves player has on the open market, where does the current roster sit?
We’re either at (or near) the nadir of the NBA offseason. The biggest trades (well, maybe) are completed, free agents are mostly signed, and rookies are finding their way after June’s draft and first summer league.
But I think I can speak for everyone that even after the Gobert trade, I was still working the trade machine pretty heavily, even though the Wolves’ work was pretty clearly done.
Around that same time, Bill Simmons released his seasonal league-wide trade value list. Always a hot button topic in the season of speculation. In particular, Anthony Edwards was put under the microscope, given his salary, age, and obvious talent level.
— The Ringer (@ringer) July 12, 2022
Jaden McDaniels, Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert, and Ant notably made the list. But naturally, I wanted to dig a little deeper team-wise and tier off the trade value I believe players on the current roster possess. I’ll go by similar criteria:
Oh, and production. That helps too. To be clear, I’m not speculating on likeliness of being traded, just the value each player would hold categorically on the trade market, in the team’s eyes. And who knows? Come the deadline will the Wolves be looking to wheel and deal to make a final push for home court? Maybe, and your assignment at that point will be to come back to this and tell me how wrong I am.
Tier 1: Don’t Even Think About It
1) Anthony Edwards
2) Karl-Anthony Towns
3) Rudy Gobert
Rationale: Towns literally can’t be traded because of the parameters around his extension, and everything aside from that (comments from himself, coaches, Connelly, ownership) has shown he’s going to be here for a very long time. If the Gobert experiment fizzles, will either he or Gobert be revisited? Potentially, but plenty of things have to break catastrophically for that to happen. Do I even need to provide an explanation on Ant?
Tier 2: Break Glass in Case of Emergency
4) Jaden McDaniels
5) D’Angelo Russell
Rationale: McDaniels was kept on the roster in exchange for extra first-round picks for the Gobert trade. Russell is clearly here to stay for the season to work his playmaking chops with the twin tower lineup, and was maybe thought of a little higher internally with the Wolves than what fans thought after a disappointing playoff run. Both are entering big years with different circumstances.
Russell will be a major reason why things either work or don’t work in the KAT/Gobert experiment. Assuming things do, his ability to maximize the lineup, along with his expiring max contract, make him incredibly interesting, especially heading into potential negotiations next offseason. McDaniels is expected to make a sizable jump in his development after an encouraging second half of the season in 2021-22, and I think he will. Both players will be here for the forseeable future, McDaniels’ status much safer than Russell, but I don’t see them on the same tier as the above.
Plus, McDaniels is a Polite King. His manners alone almost bumped him up a tier.
My dark horse for best moment of the evening: Jaden McDaniels finishing his postgame interview with @McNuttMonica by saying:
“Thank you, thank you. Have a good day.”
That got a literal “Aw…. reaction” pic.twitter.com/2GjI3Kq3eC
— Leo S (@Y0Leo) August 10, 2021
Tier 3: For The Right Price
6) Jaylen Nowell
7) Kyle Anderson
Rationale: Both role-type players with good contracts, Nowell has the opportunity to move up a tier with a good season moving more into a sixth-man role. Around December of last year, Nowell probably would have been a tier lower, but a good second half of the season paired with an apparent expanded role makes him a little more intriguing. Nowell’s age is an underrated aspect to him as well, still just 23 years old, clearly still having plenty of upside. Anderson has a skillset that pretty much every team needs (the ability to shoot the three, ball handle, defend four positions), and his contract makes him a positive asset to attach and sweeten the pot in a trade.
JAYLEN NOWELL POSTER pic.twitter.com/SmNZMuPgBC
— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) January 4, 2022
Tier 4: Let’s Talk
8) Naz Reid
9) Taurean Prince
10) Jordan McLaughlin
Rationale: Reid is the most likely to be moved in this pod if minutes become few and far between, but there’s a lot to like with this offensive approach and minuscule contract. He’s still young and can work into being a pretty polished offensive player. Prince means more to the team than his placement indicates, with multiple player citing how important his leadership ability is to the younger players on the roster. I also think it’s hard to quantify the veteran plays Prince makes defensively as well. His contract is non-guaranteed, which gives his intangibles a little more merit on the value front.
Another off-the-beat note/take on Reid – his contract expires at the end of the year. If Connelly and co. believe a re-sign isn’t in the cards, and let’s be honest it may not be, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the phones worked around deadline time to find Reid a team with a bigger role available on a slightly worse team.
Tier 5: The Wild Cards
11) Wendell Moore Jr
12) Josh Minott
13) Austin Rivers
14) Nathan Knight
15) Bryn Forbes
Rationale: The hard truth I had to come to in the midst of my excitement for Minott and Moore Jr.’s summer league and pro-am appearances, is that they really don’t hold any value until they flash at the NBA level. Right now, it’s pretty stupid to even put a value on what they could be on the open market (especially Minott). Same goes for Rivers. What is his role on this team? With a one-year, veteran minimum deal, does he play his way into a notable role?
Interesting note from last year – out of all Nuggets five-man lineups that played at least 70 minutes together, Rivers was in two of the top three, and Jokic was NOT in one of the lineups that Rivers was associated with. It’s clear Connelly likes him, but his value is impossible to even speculate on right now.
There’s still a lot that needs to be established with the roles and playing styles of this team, and from that we’ll get an idea of if there are traits/needs the Wolves could go after at the deadline in order to push chips further into the center.
I think Tier 1 might be the only one that’s 100%. Feel free to let me hear about it below.