The NBA trade deadline is behind us, and to the casual fan, the local team’s roster might be pretty unrecognizable.
It was a crazy deadline week for the Timberwolves which started with Robert Covington being moved to the Rockets in a four-team deal. Two days later, Andrew Wiggins and draft picks were flipped to the Warriors for D’Angelo Russell.
After the dust settled, the result was an entirely remade roster with eight new players.
As if there hadn’t already been enough excitement, the Wolves then played one of their more memorable games in recent years, blowing out the Los Angeles Clippers in the first game with the new roster.
So, what’s next?
Can we simply just expect the Wolves to be instantly better because of these trades?
This is a complex equation, but general manager Gersson Rosas seems to be the place to start.
Given some of the general managers this franchise has had over the past decade, it’s fair to be skeptical.
Remember David Kahn, who is now president of the club Paris Basketball in the second division in France? Yeah he was actually running the Timberwolves in 2013. Or the most recent boss, who’s main priority seemed to be recreating the 2011-12 Chicago Bulls?
Despite that history, it’s time to let go. If these trades are any indication, Rosas knows what he’s doing.
It’s still far too early to tell if Rosas actually got anything useful from last week’s flurry of moves. However, there’s almost no chance he did anything he’ll regret.
Wiggins and Russell each had three years remaining on max deals, and it was time for the former to go. Maybe working with a coach as good as Steve Kerr will rejuvenate a career that was going nowhere in the Twin Cities.
Is Russell going to markedly improve this team? The jury is still out on that, but it’s almost impossible to imagine him making it worse. And it does seem like he’s the type of guard Rosas needs to run the up-tempo style he’s trying to implement.
It’s possible the draft picks given up could come back to bite them, but it seemed worth it to get out from under the Wiggins contract.
As far as Covington, the Nets’ first round pick seems far more valuable given where this franchise is at. When it comes to Malik Beasley, Juan Hernangomez, James Johnson and the rest of the new additions, again, nobody knows. But it’s hard to see them making the team worse.
As long as Rosas presides over the Wolves, he will be fighting an uphill battle. The structure of the NBA is not conducive to small-market teams having sustained success, especially ones in cold weather cities.
Take note of where Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis and Paul George each landed this summer. Take note of where Russell signed this summer when it was actually up to him.
If the Timberwolves are ever going to have sustained success, it will be because of a great general manager. One that is able to consistently identify the right kind of player for a certain system, and then acquire that player via the draft or trade.
There will be no help from free agency, and if you draft a player as good as Karl-Anthony Towns, he’ll probably leave in the middle of his prime.
Is Rosas the GM that will be able to identify those types of players for the Wolves?
Only time will tell. But it certainly seems like he has a plan, and it’s yet to include Jonny Flynn or any of the 2011-12 Bulls.
Maybe there’s hope.