NEW ORLEANS – When the Timberwolves made the trade for Rudy Gobert, one of the tangential questions related to the move was: What will happen to Naz Reid?
Reid, undrafted out of LSU, had developed into a solid rotation piece in three seasons for the Wolves. He was entering the final year of his contract, and now he was looking at getting buried on the depth chart behind Karl-Anthony Towns and Gobert.
Reid refused to linger on the bench, and every chance he got to play early in the season, he made it harder for coach Chris Finch to pull him off the floor.
"We started the season not really sure what his role was going to be," Finch said. "If there was going to be one at all other than just an emergency."
Then, of course, that happened when Towns went out because of a right calf injury. As a result, Reid has seen significant, regular minutes again off the bench and started seven games as Gobert has dealt with various injuries. Even if his last few games were not up to his standard, Reid and his 10.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game have been valuable in keeping the Wolves at .500 (25-25) with Towns out.
His play has also been of value in the trade rumor mill, and with two weeks to go, multiple reports have emerged with teams like the Clippers, Nets and Nuggets interested in Reid. This interest comes as no surprise to Finch, given what others around the league have said about Reid.
"He's got a lot of skill offensively. Underrated rim protector with his shot blocking," Finch said. "He's a heck of a story, having been an undrafted guy, remade his body, developed confidence, excellent system fit. Really a modern center now, a modern big.
"As for the specifics or any of the chatter, I don't know, but I can tell you he has won a lot of fans around the league and a lot of other coaches and people I've talked to really like him."
Reid, who is headed for unrestricted free agency at season's end, hasn't been letting the trade talk get to him.
"Whatever happens is going to happen for the better," Reid said. "I just try to play basketball, focus my mind on basketball and not so much what's going on outside of basketball. I mean, hopefully everything goes full circle and comes the right way."
Reid's contract status means the Wolves, who start a six-game homestand Friday night against Memphis, could lose him for nothing when they might be able to deal him for something in the next two weeks. The Wolves sacrificed a lot of assets and draft capital in the Gobert trade, and a deal involving Reid might be a way to recoup something, or get a player at another position of need — like if the Wolves don't think guard D'Angelo Russell, who is also headed to free agency, is in their long-term plans.
The Wolves have centers behind Reid in Luka Garza and Nathan Knight. Do they think they can get by with them backing up Gobert and Towns?
Reid hopes no matter what happens, the league and the team have noticed what he can bring to a roster.
"I've been through a lot, and it's about being able to fight, keep moving forward and put myself in the best predicaments I can for myself," Reid said. "It's not easy, especially when you have two guys ahead of you that are really great players. You kind of got to just buckle in and get whatever you can get done. I just focus on basketball, be the best I can be, and hopefully everybody has seen that."
Reid said his biggest improvement this season has come mentally, how he's been able to handle adversity on the court and within a game.
"If something isn't going to go your way, just being able to dial it back in, being able to put yourself in the best position, whether times are tough, times are going well," Reid said. "Have that mind-set where you're going to be all right, you'll be fine, just keep being you. My mental was definitely my biggest growth. I haven't even reached my peak yet."
But just where will he be when he reaches that peak?