The first rule for a GM in “winning” a trade is to make the other GM think he’s winning it. Even if you think you’re fleecing him.
The swap sending Derrick Williams to Sacramento and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to Minnesota — which has become official — would have been an easy sell for both GMs. Both these teams are in different places with different goals. The trade works for both teams because of that.
For some Timberwolves fans there’s an emotional part of this — Williams was the No. 2 pick, they drafted him on potential and in theory that potential is still there.
But Minnesota has moved on from “we’re a young team waiting for our potential to develop” into “we need to make the playoffs” mode. This trade fits with that — Minnesota gets a solid veteran they can count on off the bench to help them make the playoffs. Williams is not that.
Mbah a Moute gives the Rick Adelman a defensive specialist to turn to off the bench. Put him in a rotation with Chase Budinger and Ronny Turiaf once they get healthy, plus Dante Cunningham, and that’s a pretty good bench front line.
Williams got run last season as the Timberwolves power forward because Adelman was out of bodies — Kevin Love and Andrei Kirilenko missed a lot of time — but by the end of that season Adelman had made his decision and was done with Williams. Williams is a tweener really and he doesn’t create good shots for himself or defend well. Then two things happened that really signaled the end for Williams in Minny: 1) Flip Saunders came in as defacto as GM for David Kahn (who always defended his draft picks); 2) Robbie Hummel emerged as a solid option off the bench. Williams became expendable and has gotten just 14.7 minutes a game and shooting just 35.2 percent when he does get on the floor.
Consider this the “change of scenery” move for Williams, and occasionally those work out. Sacramento is still trying to develop its talent and is looking to the long term. Expect Williams to get run in Sacramento, but remember coach Mike Malone has options — John Salmons, Jason Thompson, Patrick Patterson and Travis Outlaw, plus eventually Carl Landry will return from injury and be better than any of them.
Williams has not been a good defender, if that continues he’s not going to get past those guys ahead of him on the forward list. But he’s going to get a chance to show off that athleticism and figure out how to fit it the Kings offense. He has his option for next season already picked up.
Williams gets a chance, Minny gets a defender.
Both sides get something they can use.