It has been nearly two months since the NBA postponed its season following the positive coronavirus test of Jazz center Rudy Gobert.
In that span, the league has released little information about the future of this season. Resuming the season at a bubble site is a possibility. So is delaying the start of next season until December. In the mean time, you have questions about the Timberwolves and I’ll do my best to provide answers. I made one stipulation: Nobody could ask the “Will the Wolves trade for Devin Booker?” question, which I addressed in two previous mailbag iterations. If you’d like to read the answers to those, give me extra clicks by clicking here and here. Here we go:
Q: Is [Indiana’s] Myles Turner one of the best fits for our team ? Pretty sure [President Gersson] Rosas might go for him during the draft. -- @TWolvesNationFR
A: Bonjour à TWolves Nation France! J’espère vous êtes bien. That’s about the limit of the French I retained from high school and college. That and if I’m ever in need, I can ask someone where the library is.
As for this question, I got a few about who might be best to partner with Karl-Anthony Towns in the Wolves’ frontcourt at the four. Someone asked about Aaron Gordon, and of course the Wolves will likely have two first-round picks in this year’s draft to either use or trade, so let’s address all those here. I like Myles Turner and I think there’s some potential there to fit alongside Towns. He’s a very good defender, he’s an OK three-point shooter, he’s 24 so he fits in the Wolves timeline, and he’s on a reasonable contract, making $18 million a year through 2023, per Early Bird Rights.
But Turner is a five, and so is Towns. Will there be room for both on the floor at the same time? I’m not as sure about that. Especially since Towns already stretches the floor offensively with his three-point shooting ability. Turner is a very good defender, but where exactly do they both fit together on both ends of the floor? Who’s guarding the four, especially if that four is smaller and quicker? Turner might be able to pull that off, but on an every night basis? If you wanted to make that trade – and the Wolves have draft capital to make a potential trade work – I’d need to be sold on how all that is going to mesh. I’m not ruling it out, but I’m skeptical. But I don’t have a scout’s eye, so who knows? I’m just spitballing here.
Gordon, at least, is a four, so it’d be a more natural fit positionally. That would seem to be more natural than Turner would be from that standpoint. Gordon is also 24 and making similar money to Turner on a contact that expires one year sooner. He and Turner have similar Real Plus-Minus numbers, per ESPN.com. It’ll be interesting to see just what Orlando decides to do with their team. They’re one of the teams in the Eastern Conference kind of treading water without a definitive direction beyond being a bottom seeded playoff team. Maybe they try to cash in some of their chips.
Let’s not forget someone who hasn’t come up in this question – the current starter at that position, Junacho Hernangomez. The Wolves and Rosas like Hernangomez and want him to be around for a while. He’s a restricted free agent and we’ll see what his price tag is after the season. One thing not to overlook with Hernangomez – he came to the Wolves and in 14 games with them his three-point percentage jumped from 25% in Denver to 42% with the Wolves. He’s a fit for what the Wolves want to do and he took advantage of the increased opportunity. He put up similar rebound numbers to Gordon and Turner. Defensively is where the deficit is, but perhaps the Wolves are thinking they don’t have to splurge at that position and Hernangomez will do just fine for their purposes. Fans seem eager to find someone at the four to go along with Towns. Maybe the Wolves think they have someone already.
Q: Where do you see Naz Reid fitting in the Timberwolves timeline? -- @dylan_hedeen
A: It’s clear the Wolves are investing long term with Reid. Everything they’ve done as an organization from the beginning has hinted at that. When the Wolves signed Reid and introduced him after summer league, he was at the press conference with their two draft picks from last year, Jarrett Culver and Jaylen Nowell. Whenever Rosas or coach Ryan Saunders talk about players of the future, they are quick to make sure Reid is mentioned in those conversations and they didn’t hesitate to give Reid starting minutes when Towns went out with a wrist fracture before the season was postponed.
The Wolves like Reid’s athleticism, his shooting ability and he has committed himself to getting in better shape. He has the tools they think can thrive in their system. He was undrafted, but the Wolves still signed him to a four-year deal (with team options in future years). They didn’t hand those out to any of their other undrafted players, nor did they sign anybody in free agency to a multi-year deal besides Jake Layman. Reid’s development in year two will be something Wolves fans should watch carefully.
Q: Could a starter be had in a trade without giving up either first round pick? Is holding on to the firsts something the [front office] would even consider, given their early tendencies to swing hard and reach high? – @SideburnTalk
A: I suppose you never know given what the salary cap may do as a result of the coronavirus, but I don’t know who the Wolves may deal to get a starter. I guess in that scenario, you’re likely re-signing Malik Beasley, so perhaps somebody like Josh Okogie or Jarrett Culver gets thrown in a deal for a power forward? A lot of variables in that question.
This question also gets into a little draft discussion, and I’ll try to address some of the questions I got along those lines here. Anything is on the table as it pertains to the Wolves and their draft picks. Rosas is excited that the Wolves will likely have the most draft capital in the first and early second round of any team.
“[It’s an] opportunity to continue to build out the roster,” Rosas said recently. “Whether it’s young players you continue to add to our talent base, or using those pics in trades to acquire players that may be more ready to help us now. It puts us in a very strong position.”
Wheeling and dealing with that many picks is a very real possibility. Just what shape that takes is anybody’s guess? Will they just try to move up if they end up picking somewhere like fifth or sixth? Will they try to cash in those picks for a more proven player? Some combination of both? But I think the original question put it well. Count on the Wolves and Rosas to swing big, whether they connect or not.
I also got a question that asked if the Wolves got a high pick would they draft for talent or need. I always say draft the talent, especially when you’re still a team building a foundation. You can always trade a good player if you don’t have room for him, but if you go for need and miss, then you have no way to make another deal to fill that void.