Some might call it tanking, others rebuilding. The Minnesota Timberwolves won’t be competing to make the playoffs next season, instead relying on young players while trying to offload of the expensive ones, which means looking for someone to trade Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic to.
Kevin Love, allegedly, will be making his way to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Andrew Wiggins and a first round pick. The Philadelphia 76ers, according to the “rumors” about this upcoming trade, will take Anthony Bennett while Thaddeus Young makes his way to the Minnesota Timberwolves. That’s not such a bad team to have, but it’s a growing notion among NBA people that the Timberwolves will try to get rid of contracts they don’t like, and build a team around Wiggins, Ricky Rubio (who needs to be extended) and Zach LaVine.
The problem might be the contracts, or age. Pekovic has four more years worth just under $48 million on his deal. He is 28, but injury problems, missing 48 games over the last two seasons and a bad defensive reputation (to hurt his 17.5 points, 8.7 rebounds impression), might make him difficult to move. Kevin Martin? Volume scorer (19.1 points per game last season while shooting 43% from the field), who has three more years worth $21 million, including a player option he’ll obviously trigger and opt in to for the 2016-2017 NBA season.
The Timberwolves are going to be a very good offensive team with the current group of players, but it’s hard to see who is going to help out on defense, which is similar to the situation they had last season. With Love as good as gone, it’s probably time to start building around a new core, which they seem to have in Rubio, Wiggins and hopefully LaVine. With plenty of cap space as well for next season, moving Martin and Pekovic might be something of a long shot but it could pave their way to make some interesting moves.
So tanking? The Timberwolves might turn out to be one of the worst teams in the Western conference, which is pretty much a reality for the last decade, including the final seasons of Kevin Garnett before bolting to Boston. But there is potential for at least some very enjoyable basketball. If they can actually get rid of the bad contract they have pulling them down right now, maybe the turnaround from losing their best player won’t take too much time.