Timberwolves

What Are Minnesota's Options After the Trade Deadline?

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

It was a relatively quiet night at the deadline for Tim Connelly and the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Wolves only made one move, trading Troy Brown Jr., Shake Milton, and a 2030 second-round pick to the Detroit Pistons for veteran point guard Monte Morris.

The move wasn’t surprising, given their ongoing turnover issues. In Morris, the Wolves traded for an experienced ball-handler, a career 38.9% shooter from three. He should help the team limit turnovers and improve their spacing.

It’s highly likely that Morris slots in for Jordan McLaughlin’s minutes in the rotation and may even take some from Kyle Anderson. McLaughlin has averaged less than ten minutes a game this season, and it seems realistic that Morris will at least play 15 to 18. That means the Wolves will likely cut Anderson’s minutes somewhat from the 22-a-night he has been playing.

The debate about what the Wolves should have done at the deadline focused on Anderson. Many fans argued that his evident offensive issues meant trading for a more offensively secure wing would improve the team. Anderson is converting a career-low 19.4% from three, and teams often leave him completely unguarded.

But the front office and coaching staff viewed things differently. They valued Anderson’s defense and locker room leadership and retained him at the deadline. The issue is that opponents will neglect his broken shot, which has been an issue since his eye injury in the 2023 playoffs, in the postseason. It’s difficult to know how much his intangibles the coaching staff value can help in the playoffs.

However, the Timberwolves have several post-deadline options they can pursue to improve their perimeter shooting and solve the spacing issues that have plagued them all season. Unless the Wolves are going to move one of their rookies or second-year closer to the rotation, it’s likely they do make a move, given they only have 13 fully contracted players.

Marcus Morris is one potential option. The Philadelphia 76ers recently traded him to the Indiana Pacers, who waived him. Morris has averaged 6.7 points and 2.9 rebounds for the Sixers this season, shooting 40% from three. He’s a 34-year-old forward who would offer more playoff experience. Morris made long playoff runs with the Boston Celtics in 2018 and the Los Angeles Clippers in 2020 and 2021. But Indiana bought him out of a $16 million-a-year deal, and it’s unclear how much money Morris would want as a free agent.

If Morris isn’t an option, the Pistons waived Joe Harris, and Connelly might look at him. Harris is a career 43.6% shooter from three. However, given his difficulties in getting into Detroit’s rotation this season, it’s uncertain that he could get any minutes at all in a team battling for top seeding in the Western Conference. Still, he would be a cheap option as a ninth or tenth man who can space the floor.

Beyond Morris and Harris, there aren’t many more enticing options on the buyout market. The Toronto Raptors will likely waive Spencer Dinwiddie after they got him from the Brooklyn Nets. But as an underwhelming three-point shooting guard, the Wolves seem unlikely to be especially interested. Another team will likely move to get him anyway.

Elsewhere, guards Killian Hayes, James Bouknight, and Victor Oladipo, and center Robin Lopez are other names available on the buyout market. None of them fit what the Wolves need. The Miami Heat will likely waive Kyle Lowry, but Minnesota doesn’t need a guard after acquiring Morris.

After adding a small point guard to the roster, the Wolves will likely only reduce Kyle Anderson’s minutes, given that Naz Reid and Nickeil Alexander-Walker are the sixth and seventh men in the rotation. Morris, Anderson, and a potential player from the buyout market would battle to be eighth and ninth because it seems unlikely the Wolves would use more than a nine-man rotation in the postseason.

But the Wolves have options to bolster their roster in the coming weeks. Alternatively, they might just do nothing because of choice or circumstance. But if they do nothing, they’ll be asking a bench point guard to solve a lot of the consistent issues. That may not be possible, given that a backup point guard won’t feature in the fourth quarter.

We can trust Tim Connelly to fix this team’s holes, given how much success he’s had adding players in Minnesota. He’s either made successful moves or rectified them quickly, like after the Shake Milton signing.

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