This blockbuster trading does not exactly fit into the “winners and losers” paradigm we use to measure trades on this site.
It is possible for the Timberwolves to have gotten better by landing three-time defensive player of the year Rudy Gobert and still overpaid for his services. It’s also reasonable to wonder how this roster plays out in the regular season versus the playoffs.
And while the Jazz take home a treasury full of trekking picks, this is just the first step in Utah – they say they’ll be rebuilding in no time Donovan Mitchell, but a lot of people across the league think Mitchell can be on the move and a full rebuild is coming. How we ultimately view this trade depends on the moves that follow.
That said, let’s try to break down this trade, which looks like this:
Receiving Timberwolves: Rudy Gobert.
Receiving Jazz: Malik Beasley† Patrick Beverley† Walker Kessler† Jarred VanderbiltLeandro Bolmaro, four first-round picks (unprotected first-round picks in 2023, 2025, 2027 and a top-five protected first-round pick in 2029).
WINNER: Rudy Gobert
This new setting will better show what a defensive game-changer he is. There had been a complacency about how he anchored a team of mostly poor perimeter defenders in Utah — even Anthony Edwards came in the act and said he was scared… Kristaps Porzingis more like a defender than Gobert.
This new setting—and the obscuring of Edward’s youthful defensive flaws—will better showcase Gobert’s strength as a rim protector and defensive quarterback in the paint. Karl-Anthony Towns is not a great defender and will now have to guard more on the perimeter where he will be a turnstile. D’Angelo Russell is not a good defender. Gobert will clean up a lot of that – he ended up on a team that needed exactly what he’s bringing to the table. Gobert could be lining up for a fourth DPOY this season, and this trade will ultimately be good for his perception among fans.
WINNER: Timberwolves in the regular season
Adding Gobert makes Minnesota better, especially in the regular season. Towns is an attacking force, Anthony Edwards is not only well on his way to becoming one, but is on the cusp of becoming the Timberwolves’ best player, they have some shots and Gobert is good as a roll man or if he is out of the dunker spot. Minnesota had a top-10 attack last season and should be better this season.
And this trade should improve their mid-defense as well. This keeps the Timberwolves – number 7 from a season ago – a top six team in the West and avoiding the playin (even with a healthy Clippers, improved pelicans and generally a deep conference). This is a good squad.
LOSER: Timberwolves play-off versatility
Gobert’s battle for the playoffs is somewhat exaggerated: he was still an excellent defender in the postseason. However, Utah’s lack of good perimeter defenders put him in a tough position against five-out fouls – should Gobert protect the rim after a Jazz defender was just blown past, or stick with his shooter in the corner who can knock that 3 down?
Teams will put the Timberwolves in the same position, and with Towns playing the four things, the four things could be a little worse. More and more, the trend is to play small in the playoffs — both Boston and Golden State relied on smaller formations to make it to the finals — and the Timberwolves will be tested in ways they may not be able to answer. It can be difficult to keep Gobert and Towns on the field during key playoff minutes.
Will the Timberwolves have the kind of flexible roster that thrives in the postseason?
INDEFINITE: The Utah Jazz
It’s just too early to tell if the Jazz won or lost this trade as we’ll have to see what’s next. Because there is clearly another one coming. More moves coming.
That doesn’t mean they’ll trade Donovan Mitchell. Yet. My guess is that even if they think about swapping it and stripping it all off for a rebuild, CEO Danny Ainge and the Jazz won’t do it before the 2023 All-Star Game in Salt Lake City, where Mitchell would host. and star. A more likely scenario is that this season is set in Utah, and both Mitchell and Ainge come to an agreement, and then Mitchell is traded (smart money makes him go to the Knicks).
Or maybe Ainge can stick the needle in and do an on-the-spot reconstruction around Mitchell and make this team a bigger threat in the West under new coach Will Hardy. There are certainly some big names floating around in the trading market.
We need more information before calling this for the Jazz.
WINNER: Jaden McDaniels
The second best young player on the Timberwolves and a lock down defender, he is now a starter after this trade and will be spotlighted on the wing alongside Edwards. More McDaniels is a good thing in Minnesota.
LOSER: Minnesota’s Future Flexibility
The Timberwolves don’t seem very agile anymore.
One part of this is the payroll administration. Cities just signed $244 million contract extension, Gobert will earn $170 million over the next four years, and Anthony Edwards’ maximum contract extension is just a few years away. Right now, Russell’s $30 million a year is hiding the books. This is an expensive list.
And they don’t have many choices in the first round now.
The best organizations try to remain flexible and agile. Boston did a pretty good job, and it got them signing Danilo Gallinari and exchange for Malcolm Brogdon after the NBA Finals. The Clippers, the Raptors, and even the Suns have built in some flexibility that allows them to chase a star like Kevin Durant if they want. Minnesota is not that team now, and they may regret it later.
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Winners, losers from the Rudy Gobert trade to the Timberwolves originally appeared on NBCSports.com