While the Minnesota Timberwolves watch the NBA playoffs from their couches at home, they must be hoping to follow in the footsteps of the Atlanta Hawks, who went from missing the postseason last year to playing in the second round this season.
It’s not far-fetched to think Minnesota could have a turnaround like the Hawks did. They already have plenty of the pieces in place. Still, they need to do more this offseason if they want to compete for a spot in the Western Conference playoffs next season.
There are many avenues for the Wolves to explore, including free agency, the draft, and the trade market. One big step in the right direction would be trading for Danilo Gallinari.
Gallinari is still showing at age 32 that he has the sharpshooting ability that made him a threat in the league for so long. In Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, Gallinari chipped in 21 points on 7-15 shooting, including 5-9 from 3-point land, off the bench.
There’s no reason to believe the Hawks will want to trade Gallinari this summer, but with young talent emerging from all angles and the need to free up space to re-sign John Collins, Gallinari could become available. The Hawks previously offered Collins a $90 million extension, but he turned it down in hopes of securing a max offer this summer. It’s one of many decisions the Hawks will have to make.
Because of that, they could look to offload the $20 million Gallinari is owed next year. And it would provide a team like the Timberwolves a chance to pounce. In return, the Wolves could give up cheap, young options like Jarrett Culver along with future second-round picks. But, of course, if the asking price is substantially higher, there’s no need to take the bait.
Gallinari would bring Minnesota exactly what they are missing.
They have the future of the franchise in Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards. They have the 3-point specialist at the guard spot in Malik Beasley, and D’Angelo Russell is a perfect No. 3 option to have on offense. What they are missing is a veteran forward who can heat up like a microwave from the perimeter. Gallinari provides that, plus plenty of playoff experience.
His role in Minnesota would figure to be larger than the one he currently occupies in Atlanta. The Hawks have an abundance of options, from Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, De’Andre Hunter, and Bogdan Bogdanovic, to name a few. Pepper in the bigs like Collins and Clint Capela, and oftentimes there aren’t that many chances for Gallinari, at least not like he saw in Game 2 against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Minnesota has a bunch of young talent. Edwards and Towns have inspired faith in the fanbase that they can help be the foundation of a playoff team. They showed how lethal they could be as a group in the second half of the season when Towns, Edwards, and Russell were finally all healthy at the same time under head coach Chris Finch.
This offseason isn’t a time for Minnesota to sit back and relax. It’s also highly unrealistic to expect the Wolves to be in the market for superstars like Damian Lillard. They have rarely ever been in real contention for players of that caliber. That’s where finding the happy medium with realistic expectations comes into play.
Gallinari fits the mold.
It won’t solve everything, but trading for Gallinari would be another big step forward and address a significant position of need.
Despite dealing with an injury at one point, Gallinari played in 51 regular-season games for the Hawks this year. He averaged 13.3 points per game while shooting 40% from downtown. The defense isn’t great, and Minnesota certainly needs an uptick in that department. But you can never have too many shooters in today’s NBA.
The domino effect that takes place every summer in the NBA is wild, and the Hawks have drastically improved very quickly. This summer, if they want to keep one of their key pieces in Collins, they may have to part with others on the roster. That could open the door for Minnesota to jump in, part ways with Culver or Josh Okogie plus a couple of future second-round picks, and add a quality forward who can still fill it up from the outside.
It figures to be an exciting offseason for the Timberwolves. They have an array of options to add to a young and genuinely talented roster. If they want to reach the next level — or the next after that — adding a player like Danilo Gallinari could go a long way.