When the Minnesota Timberwolves pulled off a D’Angelo Russell trade with the Golden State Warriors about midway through the 2019-20 season, the expectation was that he’d form an elite pairing with best bud Karl-Anthony Towns.
While Minnesota had a tremendous amount of success in their second full season together, Russell himself now might be on the outs.
According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, Minnesota is looking at Russell trade scenarios leading up to next week’s NBA Draft.
If true, this is a rather interesting development. Minnesota made its way through the play-in tournament and took the Memphis Grizzlies to six games in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. It’s just the second time these Wolves have earned a spot in the postseason since the end of the 2003-04 season.
However, Russell struggled big time in said playoff series. The former No. 2 pick of the Los Angeles Lakers averaged 12.0 points on 33% shooting in six games. He was also benched late in Minnesota’s Game 6 loss to the Grizzlies after shooting 3-of-7 with four turnovers in 27 minutes of action.
While vice president Sachin Gupta did work under former Timberwolves President Gersson Rosas when they made the trade for Russell back in February of 2020, he was not the ultimate decision-maker. The addition of Tim Connelly to oversee the front office also changes the dynamics here big time.
For Minnesota, it might make sense to pull off a D’Angelo Russell trade this summer. There’s no telling how well he’s going to work with electric young guard Anthony Edwards moving forward. Finding a better piece to go with Edwards could be the thought process.
Below, we look at three ideal scenarios that would send Russell from the Twin Cities this summer.
Related: Updated NBA trade rumors
D’Angelo Russell trade to the Washington Wizards
- Wizards get: D’Angelo Russell, two 2nd-round picks
- Timberwolves get: Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
We’ve known for some time that the Wizards have been looking to get Bradley Beal that perfect fit at point guard. Russell Westbrook proved that he wasn’t that during the 2020-21 season. It took less than a full season for Washington to realize Spencer Dinwiddie wasn’t an option before they moved him to the Dallas Mavericks back in February for Kristaps Porzingis.
For Washington, the Porzingis’ acquisition is interesting. It has the team set up pretty darn well in the frontcourt with youngsters Rui Hachimura, Deni Avdija aand Corey Kispert. Being able to add Russell to the mix for two forwards would round out this roster pretty well assuming Beal re-signs in free agency.
- D’Angelo Russell stats (2021-22): 18.1 PPG, 7.1 APG, 41% shooting, 34% 3-point
From Minnesota’s perspective, getting more frontcourt help for Karl-Anthony Towns (assuming he’s not traded) makes a ton of sense. Caldwell-Pope would provide even more defense out on the perimeter to go with Patrick Beverley, who would then replace Russell in the starting lineup. Kyle Kuzma is a capable four next to Towns, too. Still only 26, he averaged 17.1 points and 8.5 rebounds on 45% shooting for Washington a season ago.
D’Angelo Russell trade to the Los Angeles Clippers
- Clippers get: D’Angelo Russell, 19th pick
- Timberwolves get: Norman Powell, Marcus Morris
Minnesota gained a ton of veteran experience and grit by acquiring Patrick Beverley back in August of 2021. In reality, it’s one of the reasons the team earned a surprise playoff appearance. Why not double down by bringing in another tough enforcer in that of Marcus Morris to the frontcourt? It makes too much sense.
However, the centerpiece here would be Powell heading to Minnesota. The Wolves have missed that three-and-D wing since trading Wiggins. With an ability to average 20 points, Powell would be a great addition.
- Norman Powell stats (2020-22): 18.7 PPG, 47% shooting, 41% 3-point
In return, Los Angeles brings a major upgrade at the point guard spot. It’s a position that has not performed well since Chris Paul’s departure. This would also balance out the Clippers’ roster assuming wings Kawhi Leonard and Paul George return healthy.
D’Angelo Russell trade to the New York Knicks
- Knicks get: D’Angelo Russell, 19th pick
- Timberwolves get: Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson, Alec Burks, 11th pick
This hypothetical trade would enable Minnesota to move into the lottery while selling off Russell’s contract to a Knicks team that’s in need of a point guard. With the 11th pick, these Wolves could potentially flip it and other assets for another proven player.
As it stands, Minnesota adds three veteran rotational pieces of the mix. Both Rose and Gibson have played for the team before and were considered fan favorites in the Twin Cities. It would certainly be a depth move, one that’s aided by the addition of wing Alec Burks (40% 3-point shooting in 2021-22).
From New York’s perspective, this would be a boon. Sure Russell has fallen out of favor at multiple stops. But he’d be the most-talented point guard this team has had in eons. It would enable the Knicks to keep a first-round pick while building a core three of Russell, Julius Randle and R.J. Barrett.