The Timberwolves are currently devoid of cap space and roster spot, which for many NBA teams would mean that their offseason is effectively over from a transactional standpoint.
But there’s almost an expectation that Minnesota will make another splash sometime in July. He would have to come through business.
And, after the Walker Kessler draft pick further suggested that the Timberwolves’ preference was actually to move Karl-Anthony Townes into the power forward position to play with a defensively-oriented center, the reason being that the team was a center. Will be looking to add.
From Miles Turner of Indiana to Clint Capella of Atlanta to Rudy Gobert of Utah, a few names have circulated through the rumor mill. The latter is easily the most skilled player, yet the idea of acquiring Gobert is a source of concern for Timberwolves fans on social media.
And his point is justified. Gobert is already 30 years old with four and about $170 million remaining on his current deal. Pair that with Town’s new maxed out expansion, and the Timberwolves will sink a large portion of their current and future budgets into two legitimate big ones in an era when championship-caliber teams are focused on versatility.
Can Town-Gobert defend himself against smaller lineups in a front court playoff game? that remains to be seen. And the acquisition of Gobert will wipe out the maximum cap space Minnesota is currently set to hold the title on next summer. So maybe panic is necessary.
But that’s part of the reason for Minnesota’s current interest in the big man from Utah. It’s easy to forget the type of game-changer he is. The 7-foot-1 center is a three-time All-Star and a three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year. He is the best defensive player in basketball by almost every metric. He is consistently one of the most influential regular-season players by most metrics. He is the primary reason why Utah finishes in the top five in the Western Conference every season.
Utah allowed just 104.5 points per 100 possessions defensively on the floor last season with Gobert. When he was on the bench, the number increased to 112.3. The offensive numbers were roughly the same when he was on or off the court.
Whether or not you agree with the Timberwolves growing up is one thing. There are certainly questions here about the viability of such a choice ultimately leading to a championship. But if that’s the direction the franchise chooses to travel, there’s no better way to do so.
Having Gobert in position defensively would help ease Towns’ trouble concerns and take some of the pressure off purely defensively throughout the regular season. And when someone with Gobert’s rim finishing and aggressive rebounding skills waits in the opposite dunker spot, doubling down on Towns becomes more difficult.
Few teams have quality wing depth, where defending cities on the periphery would be an obvious issue. Sure, there’s potential for Gobert to limit Minnesota’s ceiling at a certain point in the future, but he’ll undoubtedly raise the team’s current floor as well.
New Timberwolves basketball boss Tim Connelly has repeatedly stated his goal for this team to be a home-court playoff advantage team—meaning finishing in the top four in the West in the regular season. Once you reach that height, you take your chances post season.
The acquisition of Gobert would move Minnesota closer to that goal very early in Anthony Edwards’ career. It would be a win for the Timberwolves. And if coach Chris Finch can crack the riddle that’s been defending with the big guys in the postseason, maybe Minnesota can actually score a run in May for the first time in 19 years.
And while Gobert would have been 34 by the end of his current contract, the defensive centers age pretty well. Marc Gasol was 34 years old when he acted as a major catalyst in Toronto’s title race.
As far as the salary cap space, it’s always a good concept to have the money to sign the big names, but as history has shown, being able to actually do it is another thing. Many elite players are drawn to the shores when given the opportunity to sign wherever they please. For Timberwolves, the most likely way to get a max player will always be through a trade.
And Gobert is a max player who can help turn the Timberwolves into a defensive legend. What a wild idea.