Timberwolves

The Wolves Have A Decision To Make With Naz Reid

Photo Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Every NBA team strives to have depth at all positions. Recent champions like the 2018 Golden State Warriors and the 2021 Milwaukee Bucks had one thing in common – roster depth. However, sometimes teams can have too much of a good thing. Last season, the Minnesota Timberwolves found themselves dealing with a log jam at the 2-guard position off the bench.

Malik Beasley was Minnesota’s clear-cut sixth man last season. He put up 12 points per game on 39.8% from deep, making him more than deserving of the role. On the other hand, you had Jaylen Nowell, who also deserved to be a consistent part of his team’s rotation. However, there just wasn’t enough playing time to go around. In response, Tim Connelly traded away Beasley in the infamous Rudy Gobert blockbuster, which opened up a greater role for what looked to be a blossoming star.

The Wolves decided to go younger and keep Nowell on the roster this past off-season. Now, they are in a similar predicament with big man Naz Reid. However, the decision this time around isn’t as clear-cut as before.

Reid has been a fan favorite since signing with the Wolves as an undrafted free agent in 2019. It started as somewhat of a joke; the expression “Naz Reid” with no other context was born early in his career. However, Reid’s game has developed and has more than past the meme phase of his career. The 23-year-old has become a genuine offensive threat thanks to his mobility on both ends, open jump-shooting, and even his defense. He’s good enough to possibly be a starting-caliber forward or center.

Reid has been developing in the shadow of his predecessor Karl-Anthony Towns through his first three seasons in the NBA. Once Reid added reliable defense to his impressive offense game, it seemed like the Wolves found their backup big man of the future. However, after acquiring Rudy Gobert, it has been hard for Reid to find consistent minutes when the Wolves are fully constituted.

Ahead of the February 9th trade deadline, Reid has been drawing heavy interest from the Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets, and Brooklyn Nets. No Wolves fan wants to hear Reid’s name in trade chatter. However, we may all need to come to terms with the fact that the beloved big man is on his way out of the Twin Cities.

Reid is in the final season of a four-year, $6.1 million deal and will hit unrestricted free agency this summer. Normally, when an undrafted player reaches the end of their rookie deal, the front office is in full control of whether or not he returns the following season. However, things feel different between Reid and the Wolves.

The talent level is there for Naz; it always has been. And now, he’s putting all the pieces together. Teams like the Clippers, Nuggets, and Nets all need a backup big man to play consistent minutes for their respective clubs. Putting myself in Naz’s shoes, I would be salivating at the potential to have a significant role on a contending team. Now, that’s not to say Reid wouldn’t want to remain in Minnesota long-term. However, when Towns and Gobert are in the lineup, it’s pretty hard to picture a world with Naz also getting consistent minutes.

On top of this, Reid is in for a pretty big payday this offseason. And with the cap issues the Wolves will face shortly, that may be yet another roadblock in attempting to re-sign Reid. However, KSTP’s Darren Wolfson reported “nothing close on the Wolves’ desire to sign Reid” ahead of this off-season.

It’s always hard to say goodbye to a fan favorite. However, Reid has been stuck in an understudy role for long enough and looks ready for the chance to make a larger impact. Reid has been able to impact winning this season for a Timberwolves squad without KAT for an extended stretch. Still, Connelly may need to look at what’s best for Reid and the Wolves by finding him a new home before this summer rolls around.

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