The major move Timberwolves needed to make in 2022 NBA offseason

In 2021-22, the Minnesota Timberwolves enjoyed a pretty strong season. They achieved their first winning season since 2017-18, and they qualified for the 2022 NBA playoffs as the Western Conference’s seventh seed. Looking ahead to the 2022-23 season, Minnesota understood it needed to upgrade with some Timberwolves offseason moves.

Over the 2022 offseason, many teams remained on the sidelines and built around the edges, but the Wolves leaped off the cliff without a life jacket. They shook the offseason and set market standards by exchanging a smorgasbord of selections and players to acquire three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. They plan to pair the Stifle Tower with their recently extended superstar Karl-Anthony Towns. It’s a top-heavy roster that can potentially provide excellent results throughout the regular season.

Of course, Gobert also comes with a lot of questions. His postseason impact (or lack thereof) and how he will age until his monster deal expires in the summer of 2026 are the big unknowns. The Timberwolves also picked up Kyle Anderson, who allows the Wolves to play small if required. They also extended Taurean Prince, who will provide shooting.

Overall, Minnesota rolled the dice big time in the Gobert deal. If the outcome is advancing past the first round of the 2022 playoffs, however, then it would be worth it.

Having said that, bringing in Gobert, extending Towns, and adding Anderson were all wise choices. Nonetheless, the Timberwolves appear to have overlooked the most essential move they needed to make. They really should have traded D’Angelo Russell.

Timberwolves offseason move they needed to make

Trade D’Angelo Russell

During the 2019-20 season, Minnesota acquired D’Angelo Russell in exchange for Andrew Wiggins. Russell and Towns were supposed to be a strong offensive tandem, but that hasn’t really happened.

Russell has struggled terribly on offense throughout the playoffs, while he is also not much of a defender. In the 2022 postseason, he scored 12 points per game on 33.3 percent shooting from the field and 38.7 percent from three. He also averaged 2.8 turnovers per game, which was highly detrimental to their offensive flow.

Keep in mind that now that the Timberwolves have the 30-year-old Gobert, time is of the essence. They have committed to a core of Gobert-Towns-Anthony Edwards, with the caveat that Edwards is still on his rookie contract. Gobert and Towns, on the other hand, are both on long-term, exorbitantly priced deals.

Gobert is scheduled to earn $ 38 million in the 2022-23 season, while Towns will get $ 33 million. With Edwards earning only $ 10 million over the next two seasons, the Timberwolves actually only have two seasons to figure out how to utilize their minimal budget space. This gives even more urgency for them to trade D’Angelo Russell.

Russell, of course, is not a bad player. He scored 18.1 points per game in 2021-22 but was an important component of the Timberwolves’ journey to the NBA playoffs. He is, however, making $ 31 million this season and is on an expiring contract. Clearly, the Timberwolves must prioritize Edwards over Russell.

They can always potentially try to keep Russell in Minnesota, playing him next season alongside the core of Edwards-Gobert-Towns. That, however, would essentially be a waste of money. After that, Russell can also walk for free, leaving the team with no recompense.

Again, all this boils down to one move they should have already made, which is to ship out Russell perhaps even for a bit of a loss. They could have dealt him for a first-round pick or even a cheaper veteran to round out their roster.

The reality is the Timberwolves will not win a championship with these four players as their core at their current and future salaries. Russell is especially expensive given what he brings to the table for this team.

Keep in mind that the Timberwolves are on the edge of something spectacular. They must have the chutzpah to leverage their assets and fill the roster’s gaps. While Russell has been solid since his arrival, he is not a championship piece for this squad. As such, the Wolves must make a move now if they want to complete their playoff puzzle.

Minnesota has shown Timberwolves fans what it’s like to be in the playoffs. Edwards, Towns, and Gobert have the skill to bring them back, but it’s now time to enhance the squad in order to make a deeper run.

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