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Minnesota Timberwolves interested in Clint Capela: How a trade could look

Andrew Buller-Russ

Looking to get bigger in the frontcourt, while adding rebounding and interior defense, the Minnesota Timberwolves appear to be targeting Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela.

Capela is under contract for $18.2 million through the 2022-23 season, meaning the Wolves would have to swing a trade for the Switzerland native.

Here’s how a Clint Capela trade might look this offseason.

Assessing Clint Capela’s fit with Timberwolves

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Indiana Pacers
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

One area the Wolves mentioned wanting to improve over the offseason was their ability to rebound the basketball. They ranked 25th out of 30 NBA teams in defensive rebounding, a clear weakness. Well, rebounding is a strength for Capela, who led the NBA with 14.3 rebounds per game two seasons ago.

But that’s not all. Capela also averages 1.5 blocks per game in his career, chipping in 12.4 points per game. He sounds like a great asset to add to the Wolves’ frontcourt, but where would he fit?

At 6-foot-10, he’s smaller than Karl-Anthony Towns, who stands 6-foot-11. Would the T-Wolves have Towns play power forward, or Capela play the four? Or would Capela come off the bench? It’s not clear at the moment, but if I had to guess, Capela would start next to Towns, technically as the center who defends the paint, staying in position to grab rebounds.

Offensively, their roles would not change. Capela would still be a rim-running big who does the dirty work in the paint, cleaning up the glass and finishing the occasional alley-oop. The same goes for Towns, who could still lurk along the perimeter, receiving plenty of touches inside the paint when the opportunity presents.

While the Wolves have been hesitant to pair KAT with a true big in the past, Capela isn’t all that different from Jarred Vanderbilt, just a few inches taller, and he has a more polished offensive game, with a stronger ability to finish at the rim. He could be a perfect fit.

  • Clint Capela contract: $18.2M in 2022, $20.6M in 2023, $22.2M in 2024

As mentioned, Capela is currently under contract with the Hawks for one more season, but he does have a two-year $45 million contract extension that kicks in at the start of 2023, keeping him through 2025. This is a fair contract for someone of Capela’s caliber, who’s been a full-time starter for the past five seasons.

Related: 3 Minnesota Timberwolves trade scenarios in 2022 NBA Draft

How a Clint Capela Timberwolves trade could look

The Wolves could be looking at adding a talented defender who can help solve their rebounding woes, while making Towns a more effective player that allows him to place a stronger emphasis on his strengths. But what would the Wolves have to give up for Capela?

Atlanta’s not going to just give him away. Capela’s formed a powerful duo with Trae Young, and his defensive abilities help hide some of Ice Trae’s inefficiencies, but the Hawks do have a few young bigs ready for a bigger role, which could make Capela expendable.

As Capela’s cost continues to grow, the Hawks may feel a reshaping of the roster is needed since they already have Onyeka Okongwu, the sixth pick from the 2020 NBA Draft waiting in the wings. This could work to Minnesota’s advantage.

  • Timberwolves get: Clint Capela
  • Hawks get: Malik Beasley, Leandro Bolmaro

The Timberwolves benefited greatly from Malik Beasley’s flamethrowing ability from three-point land last season. He finished with the fifth-most three-pointers made in the entire NBA, but he doesn’t have a path to a starting role on the team ever since Anthony Edwards took over and the Wolves also have Jaylen Nowell who’s itching to prove he can be a microwave scorer off the bench.

So at $15.5 million per season (a respectable amount for his talent level), Beasley becomes expendable. Add in that, despite his effort, Beasley’s not a plus defender. The Wolves are looking to become less one-dimensional, adding more players who can defend multiple positions.

Sure, Beasley might not be an ideal fit next to Ice Trae for all the same reasons listed above (defensive liability), but he’s still a valuable piece. Hitting threes at a 37.7% clip with such a high volume of attempts (8.1 per game) is no small feat. Beasley can repeat his same sixth-man role off the bench for the Hawks, sending him to his hometown in Atlanta and the trade offers the Hawks better roster balance.

At first, the trade may seem confusing for the Hawks as they too are looking to improve their defense, but adding a legitimate shooting scorer next to Young can help take pressure off their young star too.

Adding the additional asset in Leandro Bolmaro, the 23rd pick from the 2020 NBA Draft is a nice bonus. Bolmaro has yet to make his mark, as he spent a year overseas and came to the NBA last season, appearing in 35 games. At 21 years old, there’s plenty of room for growth which could still lead to Bolmaro being a valued member of the rotation. Bolmaro can shoot, handle the rock, and has shown feisty competitiveness playing on-ball defense, which might make him hard to part with.

But if parting with one bench player in Beasley, plus an unproven commodity in Bolmaro for a player to add to the starting lineup with Capela is the cost, Tim Connelly should do the deal.

Related: 3 ideal D’Angelo Russell trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves with guard likely on the move