The Timberwolves will get a great package if the Kevin Love trade goes through as reported.
I would have dealt Love for just Andrew Wiggins if it were allowed and all I could get, but Anthony Bennett and a future first rounder are nice assets, too. Minnesota did really well for itself, no question.
But the Timberwolves won’t unload any of their bad contracts – someone like Kevin Martin (three years and $21,255,000 remaining) – in the deal with the Cavaliers.
Flip Saunders hasn’t given up, though.
Minnesota still has a goal of freeing itself of J.J. Barea, Luc Mbah a Moute and Alexey Shved, league sources said.
Barea ($4,519,500), Mbah a Moute ($4,382,576) and Shved ($3,282,056) all have expiring contracts. So, “freeing itself” is strange wording considering Minnesota can just let all three walk next offseason.
Assuming that’s an accurate portrayal of the situation, though, I see a couple possibilities:
1. The Timberwolves know they won’t contend for a playoff berth this season, and they believe Barea, Mbah a Moute and Shved can help teams now. So, Minnesota wants to flip those three for future assets like draft picks(and maybe the expiring contract of a worse player to satisfy trade rules) while still possible.
2. The Timberwolves are so desperate to trim salary – even beyond the $4,644,503 they drop in the Love trade – they want to deal those three players now.
Quite possibly, a combination of both factors is in play. If Minnesota doesn’t believe its roster is playoff-worthy, drawing fans won’t be easy.
None of the three players has much value, though.
Shved, 25, regressed from his rookie year – a troubling sign for a low-efficiency gunner. It seemed he’d settle into NBA play, but he’s just getting further from the target.
Barea has trended downward since helping the Mavericks win the 2011 NBA Finals. The undersized point guard just doesn’t finish at the rim like he used to. That might be due to a lack of burst as he’s passed the wrong side of 30, but there’s at least a little hope he could thrive again in the right system.
Mbah a Moute seems to have slipped from his defensive peak, though he’s still pretty good in isolation. He still can’t shoot or serve as a playmaker, bigger issues when his defense isn’t as stout.
Minnesota has a chance to move any of the three if it finds a team with very specific needs, but none of the three will generate much buzz league-wide.
If they’re are really desperate to unload the trio, the Timberwolves could always offer draft picks as sweeteners. Or maybe they can attach one to Bennett in a Thaddeus Young trade. The 76ers have the cap room to absorb a bad contract (or three) if it nets a positive asset.