The NBA’s trade deadline still is four days away and the Timberwolves already have sent away veterans Corey Brewer and Mo Williams while Kevin Martin and Thaddeus Young remain.
So the question is … why?
Wolves coach/chief executive Flip Saunders says he’ll listen to offers but doesn’t intend to do much more by Thursday’s 2 p.m. deadline because he’s already made moves aplenty since last summer and wants to let his roster settle.
Both Martin and Young have value to contenders who believe one extra piece might make the difference come springtime. Neither probably fetches a first-round pick — which the Wolves gave Philadelphia via Cleveland last summer to get Young — but each could bring back a young former lottery or first-round pick.
Young, 26, is still, well, young enough to be part of a young team’s future, but a clause in his contract allows him either to opt out this summer or opt in for nearly $10 million, either of which could be problematic. The Wolves just acquired Atlanta’s Adreian Payne because they needed more size at Young’s power-forward position.
Young said he still wants to be, and can be, part of the Wolves’ future, even if he might fit better on a contender such as Toronto.
“Definitely,” he said. “My wife and kids, who wants to keep picking up and moving? But I know it’s a business.”
Martin, in particular, is a veteran whose contract expires in two seasons, just when his young team might be ready to challenge for a playoff spot.
In one moment, Martin pledges loyalty to Saunders and owner Glen Taylor for all they’ve done and promises he is dedicated to fulfilling the final two seasons of his contract as the team’s starting shooting guard.
“I feel like I’ve got a lot of good years, so it’s not really like I’m 35 and have two years left in me,” he said. “I’m 32 and still play and move like I’m 27 sometimes.”
But in the next, he talks about this elongated All-Star break being the proper time to reassess his situation. Martin said he’s focused only on healing his broken wrist fully, but he also acknowledges a team being built around Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and its youth will be ready to win about the time, using his imagery, he’s in a rocking chair on his front porch.
“It’s definitely different, especially a guy, a win-now player, in my position,” he said. “We know what’s going around here. Flip has said it a couple times the last couple months, but you have to go in that direction when you’re missing your three best players and then all the losses add up. It’s the smart thing to do. I’ll reflect a bit.”
That’s code for working with his agent to push harder for a trade that’d send Martin to a contender — Chicago, Washington, Dallas, Phoenix all probably, just to name some — now.
Saunders insists he’s not trading Martin.
“I think he’s more valuable to us,” said Saunders, who in a lesser move could trade Chase Budinger or Anthony Bennett by Thursday. “That’s where we’re at right now. Those two guys were not starters when the season started. Brewer was coming off the bench behind Martin and Wiggins, and Mo was backing up Ricky. Martin was a starter. So from our perspective, I place a lot of value on Kevin, what he can do and how he can help Wiggins and these other guys.”
When asked what Martin — an 11-year veteran who can score 20 points nightly in his sleep — offers that nobody else on his team does in the near term, Saunders declined to elaborate.
“You’ve been to games,” he replied. “I think you know that answer. You can answer that one.”
NBA SHORT TAKES
Pau, left, and Marc Gasol
Hola, hermano, cómo estás?
Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio isn’t playing Sunday, but you can bet he’ll be watching when this year’s All-Star Game tips off at Madison Square Garden and brothers Pau and Marc Gasol will be jumping for the opening tip between East and West teams.
“It’s going to be fun,” Rubio said. “I have to be proud not just because I’m Spanish, but they are my friends. I have two friends starting on All-Star.”
Steve Kerr picks one of his own to start
Golden State’s 101-98 victory at Target Center barely ended Wednesday before Warriors coach Steve Kerr named his own Klay Thompson as a West backcourt starter alongside teammate Stephen Curry for Sunday’s All-Star Game.
He chose Thompson and Houston’s James Harden to replaced injured starters Blake Griffin and Kobe Bryant.
“I think it’s only right that Coach gets to pick his guy and reward Klay for what he has been doing this season,” Curry said.
‘‘... It’s a cool honor for Klay to have, with his head coach on the team.”
Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge also joined the starting lineup Saturday, chosen by Kerr to replace the injured Anthony Davis after he initially selected Kevin Durant.
Wiggins is clear-cut Rookie of the Year
Kerr was one of the voices within his organization who was unwilling to include Thompson in a trade for Kevin Love last summer, so the Wolves went and made a deal with Cleveland for No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins instead.
The Warriors own the league’s best record, and the Wolves possess the runaway Rookie of the Year.
“I don’t even know who else would be in the conversation,” Kerr said. “He’s going to be an All-Star. He’s a terrific player, a good talent, and it looks like he’s figuring out the NBA game. … He’s really going to be a good player.”
WOLVES' WEEK AHEAD
Friday: 7 p.m. vs. Phoenix (FSN)
Player to watch: Markieff Morris, Suns
You’ll probably never see him play on All-Star Sunday, but he’s still a vastly improved and underrated power forward who’s averaging 15 points and six rebounds a game and is shooting a league-best 57.7 percent in the final two minutes of one-possession games.
Voices: "Dang, that’s crazy. That’s a lot of points right there." — Wolves rookie Zach LaVine on his team, which in the past six months has traded three players — Kevin Love, Corey Brewer and Mo Williams — who have scored 50 points in a game.