After the Timberwolves traded for D'Angelo Russell in February 2020, there was always a better than 50-50 chance that draft night 2021 would be a quiet one in Minnesota.
After the Wolves ceded their second-round choice and what turned out to be the No. 7 overall pick in this year's draft to the Golden State Warriors to complete that Russell-for-Andrew Wiggins trade, the Wolves enter Thursday night without any picks.
The Wolves could still make noise. President Gersson Rosas has said trades or sign-and-trades will be the main vehicle for tweaking the roster this offseason, and draft night is often when trades get made.
Ricky Rubio's second coming to Minnesota was sealed in November's draft, for instance.
"Based on our stage of our team and the market that we're in, trade will always be the primary platform of team building for us," Rosas said earlier this month.
The Wolves will also be monitoring any opportunities to trade into the draft, like in the back half of the first round or the second round.
During this time period, with free agency to follow beginning Monday, the Wolves are entering a pivotal offseason, perhaps the most critical of Rosas' tenure so far.
After a disappointing season that featured a coaching change, the Wolves enter Season 3 of his regime needing to show tangible progress that the franchise headed in the right direction.
Throughout his tenure, Rosas has preached patience as it related to the roster building around Karl-Anthony Towns. He has said it is paramount for the Wolves to find players who are on a similar career timeline to Towns, 25, so they can peak as other Western Conference teams fade. In an ideal world, the Wolves would have plenty of time to do that, and Anthony Edwards' emergence last season buoys their hopes for the future.
But patience can be a rare commodity in the NBA, and it can cause teams to make short-sighted moves that might sacrifice the long-term health of their franchise. This remains important to those in the front office that the Wolves stay on a track that is best for long-term growth.
There are pressures Rosas has to navigate. There's the always looming possibility that Towns, who has repeatedly professed his desire to win in Minnesota, could ask for a trade to a team more suited now or in the immediate future to make a title run. There is new ownership coming aboard in Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore, and perhaps their vision for the franchise potentially differs from that of Glen Taylor. Rodriguez and Lore have yet to publicly discuss their plans or expectations for the franchise.
Ownership changes can create pressure for all involved to try and win now, to show that things are headed in the right direction for the sake of everyone keeping their jobs, but Rosas has said ownership has been supportive of any moves he has wanted to make.
The next week will show just how much pressure there is on the Wolves. With Chris Finch at coach, they played better after the All-Star break and won seven of their last 12 games.
Rosas stood pat at the trade deadline during the season and didn't give up assets like young forward Jaden McDaniels for a power forward like Aaron Gordon at the deadline, and upgrading power forward was the focus of Rosas' eye headed into this offseason.
The 76ers may be open to dealing point guard Ben Simmons, who at 6-10 can guard many positions and is one of the best defensive players in the league, but there are some around the league who are skeptical the Wolves could string together enough assets to get Philadelphia to pull the trigger on a deal.
The Wolves had interest in Atlanta's John Collins at the trade deadline, and Collins is a restricted free agent and could be one of the potential candidates Rosas means when he talks about potentially remolding the roster via a sign and trade. Rosas said he envisions a lot of sign and trades happening this offseason
"Free agency has been a very sensitive stage," Rosas said earlier this month. "I think teams are more creative, they're more proactive, they're more open to working together to address their needs and to help other teams at the same time. And that's opened conversations that typically weren't in place."
Atlanta chose to keep Collins and it paid off in the form of an Eastern Conference finals appearance. Collins proved his worth on the boards and the defensive end throughout the playoffs, and if Atlanta has designs on being a perennial contender, he figures to play a prominent role in that future.
The Wolves have reportedly had interest in Indiana's Myles Turner as well.
Any deal comes down to cost in the end. What will the Wolves have to give up to execute a trade? Would the price be sacrificing too much of the future for a chance to be more competitive now? This is a dynamic that could linger for a while.