Gersson Rosas said there were high-profile trades he could have made if he'd been willing to part with some of the Timberwolves' young talent.
But a year after making major moves at the NBA trade deadline, the team president decided not to make any moves Thursday.
"You don't make a trade for the sake of making a trade," Rosas said. "We haven't seen this group together enough starting with our best two players and everybody else. That played a big part in it. We want to see what we have in order to make the best educated decisions we can make."
By "two best players," Rosas was referring to Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell, who have played just five games together since Russell came to Minnesota at last season's deadline.
For the sake of organizational continuity and stability, Rosas said, he decided not to make any moves so he could evaluate what the Wolves will have headed into this offseason, specifically now that Chris Finch is the coach. Russell is due back soon from arthroscopic knee surgery while Malik Beasley's suspension ends Saturday.
"We could've acquired those high-end guys today, but it's short term," Rosas said. "From a long-term perspective we're very excited about our young guys and what the future holds for them. That's why we weren't as active as we potentially could've been."
A target Rosas passed on was Aaron Gordon, who went to Denver. Acquiring Gordon would have come with risk because he is an unrestricted free agent and the Wolves would have given up significant assets.
A major steppingstone to the Wolves acquiring Gordon was the availability of rookie Jaden McDaniels. The Wolves and Magic were engaged in talks around Gordon for several weeks, and a source said the Magic wanted McDaniels almost right up until they made the move with Denver, but the Wolves and Rosas were unwilling to part with him.
The Wolves received interest on McDaniels from multiple teams and when Rosas fielded those calls he realized a deal might not materialize.
Another target, Atlanta's John Collins, is still a Hawk. He is a restricted free agent after the season, so Atlanta can control where he lands, but don't expect the Wolves to stop monitoring Collins' availability. The Wolves have shown a willingness to get creative to land a player they want.
The Wolves, a source confirmed, could have made deals for veterans Ricky Rubio and Ed Davis, but Rosas opted not to make any moves because the potential return wasn't worth the shake up of the roster. Rubio has been instrumental in the development of rookie Anthony Edwards and one of the reasons the Wolves acquired Rubio was to help mentor Edwards.
Rosas has said the main instrument to exact change on the roster is via trade, especially in a market that traditionally does not attract top free agents.
Both Gordon and Collins are power forwards, and Rosas said that position remains a priority for the team to address.
"We tried to develop the answer to that question internally, through our roster," Rosas said. "We've shown signs of potential, but we've also shown signs of failure. I've been focused on making sure that we can get a front-line guy — a guy that is an upgrade to what we have, if we can't develop it internally."
Along those lines, the Wolves are high on the potential of Jaden McDaniels, who drew trade interest. When Rosas said the Wolves could have pulled off high-end moves, he likely meant if they were willing to part with McDaniels; they weren't. The Wolves still haven't figured out whether he is a three or four long term, but power forward still will be at the top of Rosas' wish list this summer.
"The one thing we don't want to do is plug a long-term hole with a short-term solution that's not going to be there when we need it," Rosas said. "So we'll continue investing in and developing our young players to see if the answer is there. Jaden gives us a lot of excitement and a lot of optionality there, but it's a need."
The Wolves have the rest of the season to figure out where other needs may be. They hope they will have their full complement of players available to help them figure out those needs.
"We believe there's more value in leaving this group together," Rosas said. "There's been a lot of change on the court, a lot of change off the court. We need a period of stability and development to see what's there."