The NBA draft will take place this week.
Ironically, the Minnesota Timberwolves don’t have a top pick.
Oddly enough, the Wolves don’t need it.
The Timberwolves don’t need to look for a savior this time.
This time around, they might not be tempted to go after the shiny NBA facilities.
One of the historical problems of the Wolves was their history itself. When you become one of the worst and most mismanaged franchises in the sport, every draft becomes a search for transformation rather than a simple process of picking the best player available.
Wolves is no longer a hopeless franchise and no longer has a reason to act like that.
There is hope at the management level as Mark Lohr builds a powerful front office.
At the coaching level, there is hope: Chris Finch has shown his worth and received a contract extension.
There’s hope on the court in the form of double stars (Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards), veteran savvy (Patrick Beverley), promise (Jaden McDaniels), and lineup depth (Josh Okogi is a hell of a player who should be your 11th player) . human.).
There is hope for the long-suffering fans who filled the Target Center throughout the game and into the postseason.
On Thursday night, the Wolves have the 19th pick in the draft, plus three second-rounders. They have a new basketball boss, Tim Connelly, who selected Nikola Jokic with the 41st overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
The Wolves could use a good enough point guard if they trade D’Angelo Russell and a big man who can help with defense and rebounding.
Because 19th picks don’t always benefit immediately, if at all, Connelly’s first offseason will likely be judged on how he handles Russell.
Russell was one of the reasons the Wolves improved dramatically last season. He was also on the bench during the knockout playoff game.
The old, dysfunctional Wolves would react desperately and sell Russell just to get him out of town.
It would probably be the wrong move.
If Connelly can trade Russell profitably, he should.
If he cannot trade Russell for value, then he must exercise the patience and wisdom that distinguishes many of the best in his profession.
Russell enters the final year of his contract. This season, he will earn an estimated $31 million.
Try to trade it now and you will start negotiations in a position of weakness.
Let him go in a year and you’ll give Russell a chance to redeem himself, and you’ll have an empty cap spot when the Edwards and McDaniels come of age in the NBA.
Beverly signed for one more season for $13 million. Malik Beasley signed for one more season for $15.4 million and the club has an option for one more season for $16.5 million.
If the Wolves felt they could act as a true contender at large and let Russell, Beverley and Beasley win out their contracts and leave, the Wolves would theoretically free up about $60 million for the 2023–24 season.
Russell’s value is now low. Swapping him would be a logical response to his playoff performance, but it wouldn’t necessarily help the Wolves in the 2022-23 regular season, and this is a team that can’t take the regular season for granted.
Russell is a bad defender with the ball. He is a sharp shooter.
He also plays well with Townes, is disinterested to an offensive point guard, and can sometimes lead the wolves on the attack.
There’s also a chance Russell will learn from his playoff failure and return this fall with more determination.
If Connelly can trade Russell for a quality point guard like Tyus Jones, then he can make the Wolves better this offseason, no matter who he picks in the draft.
If he can’t make a good trade this summer, he shouldn’t make any trades at all.
NFL scouts like to say that need is a bad estimator.
The history of wolves shows that despair is even worse.