The Feb. 9 trade deadline is just over two weeks away, which means trade season is officially in full swing. While some front offices are waiting patiently to see if middle-tier teams like the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls are willing to part with their top-tier talent, others are beginning to make moves on the margins to improve their depth.
This week, a new set of Minnesota Timberwolves-related trade rumors have begun to circulate around Naz Reid. While Minnesota’s front office has not been reported to be “shopping” Reid as they were with D’Angelo Russell, there is reason to believe the Wolves would trade Reid if given the right offer.
Darren Wolfson reported that there’s “nothing close on the Wolves’ desire to sign Reid and Jaylen Nowell to extensions, at this point both guys will hit the unrestricted free agency market in July.” This could simply indicate that the Wolves are playing hardball. Maybe they are willing to pay Naz but want to let the free agency market dictate his salary so they don’t “overpay” him when they are already nearing the luxury tax. However, given that this path incurs the risk of Naz walking for nothing, it could also suggest that they are hoping to move him before the trade deadline to create a more well-balanced roster.
Regardless, on Monday, HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto reported that “Reid has drawn interest from various teams on the trade market, including the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets.” Then Tuesday morning, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor reported that he “heard from league sources that the [Brooklyn] Nets have also inquired about Reid, so there would be competition for him if Minnesota chose to move him, though the price for the upcoming free agent wouldn’t be significant.”
I’m not sure I agree that the “price” will not be “significant” if there is “competition.” In this case, significance is in the eye of the beholder, and one change on the margins of the Wolves’ roster could make a big difference as they work to find consistency before the playoffs begin. Even though I’m a huge Naz Reid fan and would be heartbroken to see him go, good teams inevitably have to trade some of their good players to create a well-rounded roster. Thus to prepare for potential heartbreak, let’s look at what each interested team has to offer in a theoretical Reid trade and how it could help the Wolves.
Los Angeles Clippers
In Scotto’s article, he suggests that Terance Mann could entice the Wolves to trade Naz in a package deal. T Mann would be a nearly ideal target for the T-Wolves, as he is an incredibly versatile young wing. At 6’5”, Mann can guard 1 through 3 and some 4s. Although Ty Lou has expressed he feels Mann is best suited to play the 3, Mann has shown steady growth in other positions. Recently, Mann has begun to take on point guard duties on offense. According to The Athletic, the Clippers’ front office believes Mann could be “the team’s starting point guard beyond this season.”
While this makes T Mann all the more enticing as a trade prospect for the T-Wolves, it is also why many reporters around the league are skeptical that the Clippers would be willing to trade him. Marc Stein reported that the Clippers “continue to swat away external interest in Terance Mann,” suggesting that they are unlikely to trade him unless a package truly wows them.
Still, other players on the Clippers’ roster could be helpful in Minnesota’s rotation. Veteran 3-and-D wings Robert Covington and Nic Batum would instantly help shore up some of the bench’s wing defense and provide more versatility with their size than Naz. Luke Kennard is shooting 46.2% from three-point range and could provide the Wolves a shooting boost off the bench. All these players make around $10 million a year, so there would have to be some extra salary going out to acquire any of them.
However, if you wanted a closer salary match, you could take a flier on Amir Coffey, mostly because he’s from Minnesota, and I’m biased. But also because he’s a 6’7” combo guard with a well-rounded skill set. He’s been a solid backup for the Clippers amidst their injury woes and may still have some untapped potential if given a better-defined role.
Scotto’s also suggests Bones Hyland could work in a Naz Reid trade. Trading for Hyland may not be as ideal as getting Mann, makes more sense to me for both teams. Mann and Hyland are offensive oriented bench players who can score in bunches, and fit a position of need for the other team. Bones is shooting 38.9% from three-point range on 5.9 attempts per game, and could give the Wolves bench some of the shooting consistency it needs. Additionally, he is a solid creator for teammates, averaging 3.1 assists this season in under 20 minutes per game. He could also take on some backup point guard duties. Meanwhile, Denver’s only backup center is DeAndre Jordan, and they could use Naz’s scoring punch at the 5 when Nikola Jokic is resting.
Still, given how well Bones has played in his first two years with Denver, they may be hesitant to part ways with him so soon. If so, then it might make more sense to look at other teams. As good as the Nuggets are, they don’t have a ton of other players that would likely be getable in a trade for Naz, and would help the Wolves.
Denver’s starters are basically untouchable, and so is Bruce Brown, who has averaged near-starter minutes this year and played phenomenally. The rest are mostly unproven young players and 36 year old Jeff Green. I would approve of a package that brings home Minnesotan Zeke Nnaji, whose combination of hustle, rebounding, and three-point shooting potential could help the Wolves at the 4. However, this is once again due to my bias, and it’s likely that the Wolves would prioritize proven bench guards who can help them balance their roster instead.
While Brooklyn doesn’t have a flashy young guard to headline their pursuit of Naz Reid, they have a handful of players whose salaries match Reid’s, and could help the Wolves. Yuta Watanabe‘s name that stands out the most to me. Though he may be famous in Wolves world for being dunked on by Anthony Edwards, Watanabe is known in Brooklyn for his three-point shooting. In limited minutes, Yuta is shooting 48.8% from downtown on 2.5 attempts per game from the small forward position. While he’s not the greatest defender, his height at 6’9” gives him more positional versatility than some of the Wolves current bench shooters. It also allows him easier access to rebounds, averaging 2.7 per game this season.
Markieff Morris is another Nets player making approximately the same salary as Reid that could fit into the Wolves roster. Markieff is a savvy veteran who could provide a mentorship presence in the Wolves locker room, and toughness on the court. While he may not have the future upside that Watanabe offers, Markieff has been shooting great this year, averaging 45.2% on 1.9 attempts per game. Markieff may also not be the defender he once was in his youth. However, he still has the fifth-best defensive rating on the Nets at 112. His size (6’9”) and strength allow him to body up bigger wings and some centers, which would help provide defensive versatility to the Wolves bench.
While all of these players could potentially prove helpful to the Wolves roster, it may ultimately make the most sense to just pay Naz what he deserves and worry about fit later. Even if the Wolves were able to get Mann or Bones, both players will soon be getting paid a similar amount or more than what Ried will be demanding when he hits free agency. That won’t help their tight cap sheet either, if that is indeed the motivation for trading Naz. Still, if the front office has already decided they are going to let Reid walk, then they better figure out a trade package that works before February 9th.