The NBA draft is this week.
Oddly, the Minnesota Timberwolves don’t have the No. 1 overall pick.
Oddly, Wolves don’t need it.
This time, the Timberwolves don’t need to look for a savior.
This time, they probably won’t want to go after the NBA’s shiny objects.
One of the historical problems with Wolves is their history. When you’re one of the worst and worst-run teams in sports, every draft becomes a process of finding a transition rather than a simple process of selecting the best available players.
Wolves are no longer and have no reason to behave like a hopeless team.
There is hope for management, and Maklor has built a strong front office.
There was hope at the coaching level, with Chris Finch showing his worth and getting a contract extension.
Promising on the court, double stars (Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards), seasoned veterans (Patrick Beverley), commitment (Jaden McDaniels) and depth (Josh Okogie) is your 11th player man.).
There is hope for long-suffering fans who packed goal centers in and out of the playoffs.
On Thursday night, the Wolves acquired the 19th overall pick in the draft, plus three second-round picks. They have a new basketball owner, Tim Connery, who selected Nikola Jokic with the 41st pick in the 2014 draft.
If they trade D’Angelo Russell, the Wolves can use a good enough point guard and a big man who can help with defense and rebounding.
Because the 19th pick usually doesn’t make an immediate contribution, if anything, Connery’s first offseason will likely be judged by how he handles Russell.
Russell was one of the reasons why Wolves improved significantly last season. He also came off the bench in the playoffs of the knockout round.
The old, dysfunctional Wolves would react in desperation, trading Russell just to get him out of town.
That might be the wrong move.
If Connery can trade Russell for value, he should.
If he can’t trade Russell for value, he should show the kind of patience and intelligence that many of the best people in his career have shown.
Russell is entering the final year of his contract. He will make about $31 million this season.
Try to trade him now and you’ll enter the negotiation in a weak position.
Let him go in a year, and you’ll give Russell a chance to redeem himself, and you’ll have cap space to spend, just as Edwards and McDaniels are coming to NBA maturity.
Beverley signed for another season, worth $13 million. Malik Beasley has been signed for another season for $15.4 million, and the club has an option to renew his contract for another season for $16.5 million.
If the Wolves feel they can operate like real contenders in free agency, and they allow Russell, Beverley and Beasley to fulfill their contracts and leave, the Wolves will theoretically be freed up for the 2023-24 season. $60 million.
Russell’s value is currently at a low ebb. Trading him would be a logical response to his playoff performance, but it won’t necessarily help the 2022-23 Wolves, a team that can’t take the regular season for granted.
Russell is a terrible off-ball defender. He’s a versatile shooter.
He also plays well around Towns, is selfless for a shooting point guard, and can occasionally lead the Wolves offense.
It’s also possible that Russell will learn from the playoff defeat and return this fall with greater determination.
If Connery can trade Russell for a good passing point guard — similar to Tyus Jones — then he can make the Wolves better this offseason, no matter what he picks in the draft Who.
If he can’t make a good trade this summer, he shouldn’t make any trades at all.
NFL scouts like to say that needs to be a bad evaluator.
Wolves’ history shows that despair is worse.