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Minnesota Timberwolves looking to buy before NBA trade deadline

Andrew Buller-Russ

The Minnesota Timberwolves are in a rare position ahead of the Feb. 10 trade deadline. At 20-22, they are currently in line to make the playoffs, which hasn’t been done in the Twin Cities since the 2017-18 season. It would be just the second postseason appearance since Kevin Garnett led the franchise on an eight-year run beginning in 1996 and ending in 2004.

With a young core that’s still developing its chemistry with one another, the Wolves are looking to become buyers ahead of the NBA trade deadline, but they don’t want to make a move, just to swing a deal. And no, any potential trade wouldn’t include any of their stars like Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, or Anthony Edwards. President of Basketball Operations Sachin Gupta is looking to add to his roster, not make drastic changes.

This is what he alluded to in a recent interview with Star Tribune’s Chris Hine, who covers the Timberwolves.

“For me, I’m not just looking to make a trade for the sake of it or to make a splash to put my name on it,” Gupta said. “I feel really good about this team, and at this point I think we’re on track to achieve the goals that we set out.”

Sachin Gupta, speaking about the Minnesota Timberwolves

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Minnesota Timberwolves keeping eye on future, not just 2022

Gupta went on to mention how he feels the Wolves want to build a roster that can contend to further the ceiling of this core over the next five years, not necessarily just to add a player to help for the rest of this season.

“We do see an opportunity to get up to maybe the five [seed], to work our way out of the play-in to just secure a playoff spot outright, which would be great,” Gupta said. “Given that opportunity, I’d say we’re more buyers. But generally I would say we’re buyers over the long term.”

While they’ve been linked to several players this past offseason, if the Wolves add anyone, Gupta makes it clear he’d like to add someone who fits the current timeline of his roster, not necessarily a piece that is a short-term rental. This re-opens the idea of adding someone like a Myles Turner or John Collins. At the same time, he’s also quick to point out how defense isn’t as big of a concern as it initially was and the play of power forward Jarred Vanderbilt is a major reason why.

“He’s been really impactful. In a lot of ways [Vanderbilt] has been a good frontcourt partner for KAT,” Gupta said. “That has changed a little bit how we look at things. He’s gained a real starting role, playing big minutes and he’s really earned that. I think we need to be cognizant of that, to look at other potential acquisitions to see how that impacts his minutes because he’s really earned the minutes that he’s playing right now.”

Minnesota Timberwolves still need to improve defensive rebounding

One area Gupta did hint they’d like to improve is their defensive rebounding, where the T-Wolves rank third-worst in the league according to rebounding rate.

Another area is their foul rate, which Karl-Anthony Towns currently leads the NBA, averaging 3.7 could per game. Bouncy forward Jaden McDaniels ranks fourth in the NBA, averaging 3.41 fouls per game. McDaniels is just 21 years old and is in his third season. KAT is not. At 26 years old, in his eighth season, KAT should know better by now.

As a team, the Timberpups rank dead last, averaging 22.2 fouls per game, the next worst team, the Detroit Pistons average 20.7 per game. Needless to say, it’s an area the Wolves need to work on if they hope to make an impact during any playoff run.

Related: NBA Power Rankings – Warriors and Celtics remain at the top after first wave of free agency