The Minnesota Timberwolves have had two different Hall of Fame power forwards on their roster in the last 10 years, and both have tried muscling their way out of town as opposed to sticking with the team that drafted them. The Timberwolves traded Kevin Garnett in 2007 for a package that included a replacement forward in Al Jefferson, numerous young players who never panned out and a first-round pick that ended up being Wayne Ellington. Essentially, the Timberwolves downgraded their roster and added the 28th overall pick in the 2009 draft in hopes of getting better, but they never did.
When the Timberwolves traded away Garnett they said goodbye to their only superstar as well as any hopes of making the playoffs. They tried to keep the team competitive by trading for assets instead of high draft picks, but in a competitive Western Conference that simply won’t work. The ultimate decision the Wolves must make this time around is should there be a complete rebuild or should the team trade for assets and stay in win-now mode?
The hire of Flip Saunders as “temporary” head coach leans towards the complete rebuild model, but then why are the Timberwolves once again going after players and picks? The reported deal with the Denver Nuggets includes Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler and the 11th overall pick, a package eerily similar to what the Celtics constructed in 2007. While this package would give the Wolves a long-term solution at power forward with Faried, Kevin Martin is reportedly also included in this deal meaning the Timberwolves would have the crucial shooting guard position to fill once again and would also be trading away their only two offensive weapons.
Another option would be to do business with the Golden State Warriors and receive Klay Thompson, David Lee‘s expiring contract as well as a future draft pick that will likely be towards the end of the first round. The problem with this deal is that although the Wolves would be able to compete for a playoff spot in 2014, they would let Lee walk after the season and once again have a downgraded roster with a future pick that holds little value.
Instead of dealing with the two popular and most-talked about trade destinations, the Timberwolves instead must fully commit to the rebuild and get into talks with the Boston Celtics once again. The Celtics hold both the sixth and 17th overall picks in the upcoming NBA Draft, and both would be available in a trade along with replacement forward Jared Sullinger.
While Sullinger would start for the Wolves on Day 1, they would also have three picks in the top 20 in one of the deepest drafts in years where they would be able to address the power forward position early and take a chance on a high-upside player like Zach LaVine later.
While the Nuggets’ trade package appears to be the best on the table at the moment, simply because Faried is an up-and-coming big man who plays defense, the Timberwolves are facing the biggest franchise decision since the trade of Garnett in 2007 and simply can’t repeat the same mistake twice. It’s hard to sell a rebuilding franchise to a fanbase after you’ve failed to make the playoffs for 10 straight seasons, but the Timberwolves are going nowhere fast if they trade away their best player and may as well do the rebuild correctly instead of living in mediocrity for 10 more years.