For months, Timberwolves President Gersson Rosas has said the team needs to bolster its power forward position in order to complement Karl-Anthony Towns better.
"High defensive impact, and that takes into consideration defensive rebounding, rim protection or overall ability to impact on the defensive end," Rosas said when asked to describe the skills he's looking for to play alongside Towns. "Unfortunately, a lot of those guys I'm describing are premium talents and abilities, so those guys are hard to acquire."
Rosas then mentioned the possibility that some players they could bring in to complement Towns may not be power forwards. They might actually be other centers.
"We're open-minded, because it comes down to options," Rosas said. "Sometimes it might be a center with KAT's versatility that would allow you to add a center who's more of a rim protector, rebounder, a defensive impact big that we can put next to KAT."
Rosas cited coach Chris Finch's work as an assistant in New Orleans, when Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins played together for parts of two seasons. The Wolves have been looking at how best to utilize Towns on the defensive end of the floor.
When Finch took over, Towns was playing in the pick and roll defensively more frequently than he had in recent seasons. Finch also wasn't hesitant to play Towns and center Naz Reid on the floor together. Before the All-Star break, Reid and Towns played just 10 minutes together. After the break, they played 150 minutes over 29 games and had a positive net rating of 0.8.
"The reality is you want to develop them, and we have some guys on our roster that potentially can become those players," Rosas said. "Or you do what you can to get premium upgrades, as aggressive as you can be. Those players are pretty rare when they become available in the market."
The Wolves will be adding Taurean Prince in the deal that sent Ricky Rubio to Cleveland on Thursday. Prince, 27, can play power forward and has shown to be a capable defender throughout his career, but that trade doesn't mean the Wolves are done looking for players who can play next to Towns.
"We have to address defense and rebounding," Rosas said. "Karl gives you so much offensive ability that you can take players that maybe don't have that ability next to him, whether that's at the four or whether that's, unconventionally, at the five, and maximize it. The versatility he gives us on offense gives us a luxury on defense that most teams don't have."
What to do with cap room?
The Rubio trade netted the Wolves approximately $4.8 million in cap space, since Prince is set to make $13 million this season and Rubio $17.8 million. That space helps them stay under the luxury tax threshold, assuming they pick up the options on Jaylen Nowell and Reid. It also gives them some room to maneuver in other trades or to use a mid-level or bi-annual exception, should they choose to sign someone using those.
Rosas has said all along the main driver of roster reconstruction would be trades and he expected to see a lot of sign and trades in the days to come.
"Flexibility was very important to us," Rosas said. "As we move forward and in both of those stages, you really want to see what the market has to bear with a trade perspective and from a free-agent perspective. We talked about it, there was a lot of players that re-signed in this class, which is a little concerning in terms of shortages in free agency, which is going to lead teams to be aggressively involved in trades."
Prince had arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle in April that ended his season. But earlier this month on his Instagram account, Prince posted a video of himself working out and said he was feeling much better.
"[Zero] pain walking, or running, waking up with a clearer/happier mental, and no longer have to limp to use the restroom every morning," Prince said. "This is the best I've felt since 2018."
• The Wolves are signing Isaiah Miller out of UNC Greensboro to an Exhibit 10 deal, which is a training camp deal where the team will also have his G-League rights.