Q: How much pick-up ball do players play during a normal off season? Presumably they've been play less but I've been wondering how much less both w/ the restart and the young T-wolves players? -- @Dharmabum13
A: Most players have workout plans in the offseason with trainers. A lot of players spend time in Los Angeles playing pickup games as part of those workouts. Needless to say, this has all gone out the window this summer. Wolves players have been able to go back into the Wolves facility for individual workouts for about two months now and the team re-convened in Minnesota over the last week. But these individual workouts can only go so far.
It’s one of the reasons the Wolves, along with the other eight teams who didn’t make the Orlando bubble, are trying to get a secondary bubble going. They are likely to go more than nine months without playing a game. That’s a long stretch to go without any kind of competition or organized team activities. So I get why they want to hold something like this. I just don’t know how feasible it’s all going to be, especially if you try to compel players who are set to be free agents to put their bodies on the line for essentially nothing.
Q: How likely is it that [Malik] Beasley or Juancho [Hernangomez] remain with the Wolves? -- @MrMikeMQ
A: If the Wolves and President Gersson Rosas had their way both would be back. Of course getting down to the numbers is easier said than done, especially as the Wolves will have to evaluate where things stand with next season’s salary cap. Reminder, as we’ve covered in previous mailbags (this is what happens when you go months without anything happening), both are restricted free agents, meaning the Wolves can match any offer that comes in for them.
Other teams are also going to be up against the likely reduced cap and that could suppress the market for both of them. As it pertains to Beasley, he’s never had an opportunity like this in his career and his short stint with the Wolves raised his profile considerably. He has a chance to be a starter here for a while, a role he long craved with Denver but never got.
Hernangomez figures to command less money than Beasley. The question with him is if he’s good enough to be the Wolves’ starting four alongside Karl-Anthony Towns. It’s a big if and I don’t know that anybody knows that answer for sure. But Hernangomez looks the part for what the Wolves want to do offensively at least.
Q: If the universe aligns just right what percentage of scenarios do the Sixers implode in the playoffs, Wolves get #1 pick and trade LaMelo [Ball] , [Jarrett] Culver, James Johnson or Juancho (possibly plus 2023 1st) for Ben Simmons? And is there a better outcome for the universe? -- @BrianKoskey
A: I’d like to thank Brian for submitting this fever dream of a question because it certainly spices things up – and it talks about the Wolves acquiring a star OTHER than Devin Booker!
I get where this is coming from. Perhaps things aren’t that great in 76ers land and changes could come if there’s another playoff exit in the second round or sooner. Let’s say Simmons becomes available. Is he really the right fit for the Wolves alongside D’Angelo Russell? The Wolves like to shoot a lot of threes. Simmons has taken exactly 23 total for his career. The 76ers are 22nd in three-point attempts this season.
As talented as Simmons is, he wouldn’t seem to be a fit in how the Wolves want to play – and it’s for the same reasons his and Philadelphia’s success has hit a bit of a ceiling. That being said, having a point guard with the size and athleticism he has is always going to be intriguing. But I just don’t see it being a perfect match.
Perhaps foolishly, I allowed Devin Booker questions in this mailbag, so let’s rip the Band-Aid off on those.
Q: Devin Booker trade talks are heating up again. But do you see Devin Booker in a Timberwolves jersey this year or in a couple years. -- @EssonEastman
A: First off, I’m unaware of any kind of trade talks. I did see the one report that indicated Booker was upset the Suns didn’t pursue Russell last season but to go from unhappy to trade talks happening is still a long leap. So that seems like internet rumors. As I’ve said before this is all just very hard to picture. You’d be tying up A LOT of salary cap space in three players, and let’s be honest, three players whose track record on defense leaves a lot to be desired.
How are you going to supplement that core with enough talent to compete on both ends of the floor? Besides, the dynamics of Booker’s situation are not the same as the dynamics of what Russell went through. The Nets parted with Russell because they had Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant walking through the door. The Warriors still have Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green in their core.
Booker is the most important player the Suns have. Russell was hardly that wherever he was. It’s one reason why the fit with Russell here in Minnesota makes sense, but just what incentive do you have to do this deal if you’re Phoenix? Even if Booker ultimately asks for a trade, would the Wolves have enough in return to pull it off?
Q: How would acquiring Booker move the Wolves in the NBA Swag Power Rankings? Thinking they were probably a lottery team in that category last year. (Jeff Teague's busted Tims didn't help.) Made a nice push at the deadline w/ the acquisition of James Johnson. -- @DaneMooreNBA
A: First off, I hope everyone is following Dane and will follow him to whatever his next venture is! All Wolves fans should appreciate his coverage of the team and how in-depth he is with what he writes.
James Johnson has the nicest collection of winter jackets of anyone I know. He’s already catapulted them significantly. Just off the top of my head, I’m trying to think of the swaggiest teams. Far be it from me to rank people in terms of swag, the guy who watches re-runs of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and listens to Carole King.
I know some may not like his fashion sense, but I appreciate Russell Westbrook’s flair and James Harden has the beard, so for me the Rockets are No. 1 on the swag list. Winning definitely adds to your swag, so until the Wolves start winning on a regular basis, it's hard to put them too high. I’d probably put the Clippers at No. 2, the Lakers No. 3, Portland and Damian Lillard, rapper extraordinaire, No. 4 so no Wolves in the top four. Sorry, Dane.