The Minnesota Timberwolves are in the midst of yet another offseason after missing the playoffs. This time around, there are no incoming rookies from the 2021 draft class to help the Wolves improve. Other than their in-house options improving from within, the Timberwolves’ only path to a better team is via free agency signings or trades.
Right now, the Timberwolves have roughly $7.95 million to spend. However, offloading players such as Juancho Hernangomez and Jarrett Culver could bring that number up to $24 million. Recently acquired Taurean Prince accounts for another $13 million. Basically, there are plenty of possibilities available to offer more spending space. But how many impact free agents remain on the open market? Not many.
After finishing with the sixth-worst record in the NBA, the Wolves need to find a way to win more ball games if they hope to get back to the playoffs. Here are five blockbuster trade scenarios general manager Gersson Rosas has likely considered to improve the Timberwolves.
1. Lauri Markkanen puts on the Wolves cap again
The Timberwolves have looked under every rock in search of a frontcourt partner to pair with Karl-Anthony Towns. After seemingly striking out on every other target, it may come down to a sign-and-trade with the Chicago Bulls for Lauri Markkanen, the Finnisher. That sound you hear is a collective groan from Timberwolves fandom.
Technically a Timberwolf draftee, Markkanen may be a marksman from deep, but he doesn’t offer much as KAT’s defensive partner. Who would be the intimidator in the paint? While Towns and Markkanen would form some tall trees in Minnesota at 6’11 and 7 feet, they haven’t proven to be stoppers in the NBA.
Though it would leave much to be desired as far as rim protection, acquiring Markkanen may give the Wolves one of the sweetest shooting frontcourts in basketball. With the failed experiments of Dario Saric and Juancho Hernangomez, Rosas has a history of pairing stretch-fours next to Towns. It’s possible Markkanen becomes the latest floor-stretching big to get a chance.
- Timberwolves get: Lauri Markkanen
- Bulls get: Juancho Hernangomez, Jarrett Culver, 2023 first-round pick (lottery protected)
- Timberwolves get: Kyle Kuzma
- Wizards get: Josh Okogie and Jarrett Culver
New Wolves lineup after trade – D-Lo, Ant, Jaden McDaniels, Markkanen/Kuzma, KAT
For many Wolves fans, acquiring Markkanen or Kuzma isn’t very exciting. Don’t worry, it gets a lot spicier.
2. Ben Simmons reunites with high school teammate + Towns
It doesn’t seem like Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers are a good match anymore. With the Sixers seemingly at a crossroads, general manager Elton Brand may look to move Simmons in an attempt to surround Joel Embiid with more shooters. While there should be no shortage of interest in the three-time All-Star around the league, Simmons’ trade value has never been lower.
When Simmons was in high school, he was teammates with Wolves star guard D’Angelo Russell. The thought that both guards couldn’t coexist in a starting lineup has already been debunked. In fact, it’s already proven to be a winner. While at Montverde Academy, D-Lo and Simmons won back-to-back national championships.
While high school and NBA competition are drastically different, D-Lo and Simmons are an ideal match on the basketball court. Simmons lacks shooting, but brings strong defense and amazing court vision. Whereas Russell is more of a shoot-first point guard, who doesn’t frequently make outstanding defensive stops.
In Philly, Simmons was asked to do a lot, both as a ball-handling distributor and scorer. With the Wolves, D-Lo, Ant, and KAT could reduce the workload of Simmons on offense. Pairing the quartet together could be the perfect recipe to become a legitimate playoff contender.
- Timberwolves get: Ben Simmons
- Sixers get: Malik Beasley, Jaden McDaniels, Juancho Hernangomez, Jarrett Culver, two future first-round picks, and a 2022 second-round pick
Wolves lineup – D-Lo, Ant, Taurean Prince, Simmons, KAT
3. Kristaps Porzingis gives Timberwolves two frontcourt unicorns
Another dreamy frontcourt pairing would be putting Kristaps Porzingis next to KAT. The 7’3” Latvian star has already been traded twice in his young career and could be on the move once again after reportedly clashing with Mavericks star Luka Doncic.
When healthy, Porzingis brings length, rebounding, shot-blocking, and long-range shooting potential. Averaging over 20 points per game the past three seasons, Porzingis can score in a variety of ways. Play him at power forward or center, either way, the Wolves will be able to take advantage of several mismatches thanks to his size and skill.
Rosas has mentioned trying to target players on a similar age timeline as their young stars, at 26, Porzingis would fit that mold. The Unicorn has battled several injuries and has never made it through a full season in the NBA, which could also hamper his trade value. In that sense, having a viable backup such as Jarred Vanderbilt, Jaden McDaniels or Naz Reid would be vital should Porzingis be acquired.
- Timberwolves get: Kristaps Porzingis
- Mavericks get: Malik Beasley, Naz Reid, Josh Okogie, Jarrett Culver, and 2023 first-round pick (lottery protected)
Wolves lineup – D-Lo, Ant, Jaden, Porzingis, KAT
4. Pascal Siakam packs his bags for Minnesota
The Toronto Raptors are in a bit of a funk since winning the NBA Finals in 2019. Now that both Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry have moved on, the Raptors’ franchise cornerstones are Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam. They also just drafted Scottie Barnes at No. 4, a 6’9” point forward with sky-high potential.
Could the Raptors look to move off Siakam’s contract with plans on giving heavy minutes to Barnes? There have also been reports of Spicy P being upset with Nick Nurse in the past. Maybe Siakam would look fondly upon a reunion with former Raptors assistant Chris Finch in Minnesota?
As far as the fit, Siakam would perhaps be the most ideal frontcourt partner to pair with Karl-Anthony Towns in the entire NBA. Spicy P offers three-level scoring without slowing down the offense and could help improve the Wolves’ terrible defense.
Both Towns and Siakam can operate either in the low post or on the perimeter. It would be a pick your poison situation for opponents. Spicy P also offers additional playmaking abilities, which the Wolves could use after trading away Ricky Rubio. Siakam should be the top target for Rosas in trade talks if he’s available.
- Timberwolves get: Pascal Siakam
- Raptors get: Malik Beasley, Jaden McDaniels, Jarrett Culver, two future first-round picks and two 2022 second-round picks
Wolves lineup – D-Lo, Ant, Prince, Spicy P, KAT
5. Myles Turner brings a defensive presence to Minnesota Timberwolves
If Pascal Siakam is too much of a pipe dream, trading for Myles Turner would be a fine alternative. Turner, a two-time NBA block leader, would bring a physical presence that would make slashers think twice before entering the paint. If Turner came to Minnesota, he’d line up at center, moving Towns to power forward.
While Turner is most appealing from what he offers defensively, he would also help stretch the floor, fitting the 3-and-D archetype. Turner shouldn’t be expected to be a team’s first, second, or even third-best scoring option, but in Minnesota, he wouldn’t have to be.
Turner could fit right in next to Towns, continuing to offer top-notch defense in the paint, without hurting the spacing of the offense. In fact, a Turner trade may even open up more of Towns’ offensive game, without having to exert so much energy on being the team’s last line of defense.
However, if acquiring Turner were as easy as offering Malik Beasley and loose change, it would have likely been done long ago. Parting with any piece of D’Angelo Russell, Anthony Edwards or Jaden McDaniels may not quite be worth it to trade for Turner. Or maybe Towns doesn’t want to switch to power forward? Tough to say.
- Timberwolves get: Myles Turner, Jeremy Lamb
- Pacers get: Malik Beasley, Naz Reid, 2023 first-round pick (top-10 protected)
Wolves lineup – D-Lo, Ant, Jaden, KAT, Turner