The trade deadline never feels real until there’s a completed transaction involving a star or rumors begin circulating that a player on your team could be on the move. Now there’s a report out there that the Toronto Raptors have interest in acquiring Ricky Rubio. Who cares how valid these claims are. The Minnesota Timberwolves have the worst record in the NBA and already fired their coach, so why not spice things up a bit?
Rubio is struggling this year. He’s averaging a career low in points (7.6) and rebounds (3.1). He’s averaging 6.3 assists coming off a season where he averaged nearly nine. Perhaps the best part of Rubio’s return to Minnesota so far was the outpouring of joy the day he was traded for. Everything since then has been a dud, not just for Rubio but the team as a whole.
The idea of trading Rubio certainly can’t be off the table. He’s making $17 million this season and $17.8 million next year. While it initially seemed more than reasonable coming off the season he had with the Phoenix Suns, that amount now seems disastrous for a guy who’s playing more like a backup point guard.
His recent comments about the rebuild were welcome. Everyone assumes the Wolves have some self-awareness about sputtering from the get-go this year, but it was refreshing to see Rubio talk about the endless repetition of the same mistakes.
Realistically, what do we think the Wolves have in terms of how many dudes they definitely wouldn’t trade in the next three weeks before the deadline? Three? Four?
- Anthony Edwards. The first overall pick has shown a lot of promise, and he’s not going anywhere the next few weeks. It’s comical to even bring it up.
- Karl-Anthony Towns. There have been whispers, but Towns has reiterated that he wants to turn things around in Minnesota. Time will tell how long that lasts, but the trade deadline is on March 25, and Towns isn’t going anywhere.
- Malik Beasley. Beasley has been a flat-out stud for the Wolves this season. Yes, he’s currently serving a 12-game suspension, but he was in the midst of probably his best season yet. He’s become a pure knockdown shooter for Minnesota. Beasley is only 24; after signing an extension this offseason, it’d be shocking to see him sent out in the next few weeks.
- D’Angelo Russell. Folks, for better or worse, we need to see him and KAT on the court at the same time. It’s been over a year, and they’ve only played five games together. It’s miserable. KAT was dealing with COVID-19 this year, Russell was injured. The Wolves owe it to themselves to see how this duo works for an extended period of time.
Everything else is on the table. You could probably safely put Jaden McDaniels on the above list because he’s a rookie and has shown flashes at times — but it’s no guarantee.
This is clearly a lost season for Minnesota. If you can send Rubio to Toronto and get some help — any help — for the future, explore that path. If it’s someone else on the roster, so be it. Don’t trade just to trade, but someone who’s willing to take on Rubio’s contract and send something in return other than Kyle Lowry (age, expiring contract), entertain the call.
Nobody expected the Wolves to be title contenders this year. But I don’t believe anyone expected it to go this poorly, this quickly. Gersson Rosas and the rest of the front office have another chance at this deadline to make moves that will lay further groundwork for improvement next season.