Minnesota picked up its biggest win of the season Tuesday night, going with its coach to his old stomping grounds in Chicago, where the Timberwolves showed the tenacity and grit they have lacked much of the season. They also played strong defense for three quarters, another nice change of pace.
That’s a nice step, but there are still roster issues with the Timberwolves, some of that along the front line. The Timberwolves have a foundational piece in Karl-Anthony Towns, and they recently re-signed Gorgui Dieng, and Tom Thibodeau seems to trust them — but when those bigs are paired on the court this season the Timberwolves have been outscored by two points per 100 possessions because they allow 110.4 points per 100 on defense.
Which has Thibodeau and the Timberwolves looking for front-court help via trade, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on The Truehoop Podcast with Rachel Nichols Tuesday.
The questions here are twofold. First, what is Minnesota offering? Let’s assume they are not going to surrender either Andrew Wiggins or Zach LaVine, then what they have left are Ricky Rubio, Shabazz Muhammad, and Cole Aldrich. The Timberwolves also don’t have a first-round pick they can move before 2019, and by then that should be late first rounder with this team on the rise. That’s not much to entice other teams.
Second, who can they get? Expect them to call Sacramento — no, not for DeMarcus Cousins (he wouldn’t fit next to Towns, plus Cousins’ isn’t available anyway), but for maybe Kosta Koufos or Willie Cauley-Stein. The Kings will be looking to deal, and those guys will be available. Of course, Milwaukee’s Greg Monroe and Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic are available, but neither of them helps on the defensive end (and the Timberwolves can score plenty). One interesting name that becomes available Wednesday: The Lakers’ Luol Deng. It’s a healthy contract to take on, but he had success in the Thibodeau system before, and the Lakers will listen.
Deals are tough to make, but know that the Timberwolves are frustrated and looking to do something to shake up a roster that has been slower to come around than expected.