The Minnesota Timberwolves finally got their prized target in D’Angelo Russell after several days of constant insistence with the Golden State Warriors front office in packages centered around forward Andrew Wiggins.
Following undoubtedly the biggest splash of an otherwise quiet trade season, here are some grades to see how these teams fared:
Received: D’Angelo Russell, Omari Spellman, Jacob Evans
If there was a better grade than A-plus, the Timberwolves would get it. There is simply not a better feeling than chasing a player for as long as the Timberwolves have, and finally getting hands on him.
Minnesota chased Russell since this past summer, even getting owner Glen Taylor to come along in a helicopter ride alongside Karl-Anthony Towns in hopes to woo Russell, who was then a free agent. That ride came as reports of his interest to join the Golden State Warriors in a sign-and-trade, making the rest of it quite awkward in nature.
Yet the Timberwolves never stopped, always keeping in the back of their mind that a trade would still be possible.
The Warriors were able to one-up the Wolves in free agency by offering roughly $10 million more over a four-year span, making it a no-brainer decision for Russell, who has now been traded three times during his five-year career.
Yet the opportunity was there, so long as Minnesota could pay the price for it. It turns out new president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas doesn’t fall far from the Daryl Morey tree, willing to fight and keep at it until he gets the right deal. Rosas envisioned a duo of Towns and Russell excelling in the pick-and-roll and developing as two good friends that have known each other since his AAU days.
Not only does this deal bring Rosas his dream tandem, but he also sends a strong message to a disgruntled Towns that the new brass is willing to do anything and everything to get him the pieces to become a contender.
Received: Andrew Wiggins, top-3 protected 2021 first-round pick, 2021 second-round pick
This trade makes little basketball sense, but it makes a ton of financial sense for a team reeling from a half-decade of glory and massive spending.
Andrew Wiggins might not be the shiniest name available, but he has a lot more value than he’s had in the past two years. A fresh start could help him regain his footing and fit alongside this team — or… the Warriors could use him as a piece to flip in the summer, now armed with a war chest of draft picks after acquiring three second-rounders from the Philadelphia 76ers after dealing Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III.
The Warriors saw a unique opportunity to cut costs and shave their tax bill, now no longer bound to be a tax-repeater team. Golden State’s total tax went from $85 million to around $55 million, according to ESPN Insider Bobby Marks, shaving more than $30 million in tax payments — a huge deal for a team that is hoping to build their future.
That first-round pick could wind up being a potential top-five selection and it if falls outside of those top three picks, the Warriors get to keep it — potentially giving them more than one draft of top-tier talent.
Not only is that a massive weapon to have in the arsenal, but it’s an even more threatening asset to a team that has Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green locked up for at least two more seasons (Thompson signed a five-year deal this summer and Green signed a four-year extension).
Golden State also got rid of Jacob Evans, who clearly didn’t develop into the backup point guard they expected him to be, along with cashing in on the value of a revamped and slimmed-down Omari Spellman.
No trade the Warriors made would bring as much immediate value to the team as Russell had on the court this season, but considering this is a gap-year campaign, any trade made before the deadline would constitute the front office’s eyes on next season.