Bill Simmons started off his Monday podcast by talking to Ryen Russillo about the Minnesota Timberwolves’ recent blockbuster trade for Rudy Gobert.
Warning: He doesn’t love it for Minnesota.
“I’m gonna start you with this, I think I hated the Rudy Gobert trade more for Minnesota than any trade for the last 30 years that I’ve hated for any team,” he told Russillo.
“Wow,” Russillo responded.
“I’ve thought about it for two days,” Simmons continued.
I’ve looked at what they got. I’ve looked at my feelings for ‘can you win with Gobert?’ For the reasoning behind it. And I just don’t get it. I rarely plant my flag. I’ll plant my flag really hard when I feel really strong about something.
Like Luka was a good example, Luka falling to 3. I just didn’t understand it. I planted my flag on that.
I hate this trade for Minnesota, Russillo. I hate it, I can’t defend it. We’ll go through everything they gave up, but my initial reaction is, ‘What is going on?’ and then I looked at it for 48 hours, and I’m even more confused.
If you had told me that they had just given up two unprotected picks, with everything else they gave up, to take Gobert and his money back, I’m still not positive I love it for Minnesota, and I’ll go into all the reasons why.
But that was my initial reaction. What was your initial reaction? What is it now?
“I hated it then,” Russillo concurred. “I hate it now. I don’t know if it’s the worst trade in 30 years, that seems aggressive.”
“No, I’m saying I hated it the most of any … and I’ll go through some of the other trades,” Simmons clarified. “But I just vehemently dislike this trade.”
“It depends on how you feel about Gobert, right?” asked Russillo.
So whenever you’ll talk to a team, and you’ll be like, hey, are you Gobert guys, or are you not?
I think we all know what this camp has been for years. I remember for the first time remembering how truly insane his impact was on the floor over the course of a season.
I remember Zach Lowe one time calling me, because I was at ESPN, and he’s like, ‘I’m doing some different things, I just like to check in with different people, and he’s like, did you see some of this Gobert stuff?’
And I go, ‘Yeah, I thought something was wrong when I saw the on/off [stats] with him, because it was so dramatic, and it was such a significant number that showed you what his value was.’
So I felt like I defended him a lot. I don’t like guys who you don’t have to guard. That’s like a fundamental belief I’m always gonna have about basketball players. I kinda want you to be able to score sometimes, and I kinda want to worry about it a little bit.
So as this has played out, and you start asking about like a Gobert market…some people loved him, and there would also be other groups that would be like, ‘Look, we like him, but our fuckin’ analytics department comes screaming down the hallway about how amazing this guy is.’
And I think that’s part of the Gobert divide and the confusion. So there’s a really good part of this for Minnesota that’s like, ‘Maybe it’s okay.’ Maybe they have a good little run here for four or five years.
Maybe these picks they loaded in, maybe it doesn’t matter because they all end up being in the 20s, and like we talk about for years, they all can be a little overrated. But now I think they’ve shifted to being completely undervalued.
But it’s a very, very dangerous game to get into when you start kicking these picks years down the road, unprotected, when we’ve learned, if we’ve learned anything the last couple years, you have no fucking clue who you’re gonna be, and who’s gonna be on your roster on your roster in the next couple of years.
“And what stars are gonna be on that roster,” added Simmons.
“Exactly,” Russillo said in agreement.
So to say, ‘We’re gonna be good,’ that’s what Houston thought when they traded for Russell Westbrook. That’s what Brooklyn thought when they trade for Harden.
Milwaukee is a better bet because Giannis seems to be the kind of personality that’s like, ‘I fuckin’ love it here, trade for whoever for Jrue Holiday.’
So the only part of this that I can understand is that there was such an analytic drive from it that Connelly’s awesome, the new guy running it, and Matt Lloyd, who he brought in from Orlando. Those are really good front office guys, and I know that their opposing field goal percentage at the rim is like 67%, 25th in the NBA. They wanted to fix that.
But then what? But then what? Okay, cool, maybe then you win a ton of regular-season games. Maybe you’re a 4-seed. But Bill, I’d ask you this, like you just locked into this, moved this many unprotected picks, and you’re gonna pay Gobert $47 million in 2026. Are you guaranteed next year? Can you sit there today, in July, and say, ‘I guarantee they win a first-round series next playoffs?’
In this podcast, Simmons and Russillo also discuss the price the Wolves paid, went more in-depth on Gobert, and talked about how Minnesota is locked into three guys. Simmons also listed multiple bad trades in the last 30 years that he liked more and explained why.
It’s a must-listen for Wolves fans, even though they disliked the Gobert trade.