(Image courtesy of: HoopsHype)
Just recently, did a Hoops Provider co-blogger relay a report that Karl-Anthony Towns is “not in a good place” with his current team. Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst from ESPN discussed this briefly during their most recent podcast. In fact, the trustworthy and always in-the-know Lowe predicted that a big change could happen in Minnesota this offseason, although he did not go into specifics. So, what change could this be? KAT is too damn good to trade so, how can we keep him happy in Minnesota?
Step 1: Fire Tom Thibodeau
Why drag this on? Coach Thibs is known for two things: 1. Player Development and 2. Defense. Did either of these things happen this year?
Jimmy Butler’s Ast%, PER, Offensive and Defensive Win Shares, and 3P% all decreased, while his other stats did showed minimal increase. To be fair, Butler is who is he is as this point however, Thibs did not unlock an extra level in his game. With Wiggins it was much of the same. I will include a chart to show his drop in box and advanced stats but, the eye test proved this as well. The former #1 pick did not show any change in shot selection; something that has been hampering his development. Regardless, the numbers (below) don’t lie.
Take a look at his advanced shooting numbers too. Wiggins actually cut down on the shots he took between 16 feet and the 3 point line. Yet, when he did shoot from there, his percentage dropped a ton. It is a good thing he cut back, because he actually got worse from the midrange. Yet, he did not scale back his shots from 10-16 feet, one of the least effective places to shoot the ball from. What is worse, is that Wiggins regressed in his FG% from there as well. Oddly, he also decided to take less shots from 0-3 feet (dunks, layups, some post-ups) despite seeing improve there. To summarize, Wiggins was a mess last year. Even Thibs couldn’t coach him up.
I suggest moving on from Thibs and looking elsewhere. Some prospects? Coach Cal and Jay Wright come to mind. It is a players league and coaches who can connect on a personal level with their roster tend to succeed (see Kerr, Steve or Stevens, Brad.) JAy Wright is losing just about everyone at Villanova and may want to cash in now. Becky Hammon would be a great fit as well. My favorite, however, is Jerry Stackhouse. The dude has been a revelation in the G-League for the Raptors affiliate. He is a former player who “gets it” but also knows the game.
Now, what about the defense? Take a look at where Minnesota ranked this year. I sarcastically pointed out just how bad they were. Whenever you are searching team D stats, and you find your team next to Orlando, Atlanta, New York, That Other New York Team and Sacramento, you may want to say a quick prayer. Thibs has to go. ASAP.
Step 2: Move on from Andrew Wiggins
Darren Wolfson, an awesome journalist who covers the Timberwolves, reported this Spring that Wiggins was unhappy being a third option. Hmmmm. Let’s speculate. Could Wiggins and Towns not be getting along well in Minnesota? Does Wiggins believe he should be the focal point, and not Towns? Regardless, Maple Jordan has not met expectations. Furthermore, he will make 25 million next season! Can he be moved?
Trade 1: Minnesota gets Nic Batum and the 11th pick, Charlotte gets Andrew Wiggins
This trade works for both teams. Batum has worked through injuries, but is better on defense than Wiggins and a better shooter. Sure, he does not possess Wiggins upside but he will bring more wing stability on both ends of the floor. Minny also nabs the 11th pick which can be used on a future point guard like SAG or Sexton, or perhaps a combo forward such as UK alum Kevin Knox. Charlotte switches up their roster and hopes to unlock the potential of Wiggins.
Trade 2: Minnesota gets Chandler, Dudley, Ulis, the 2018 16th pick and a future protected first, Phoenix gets Andrew Wiggins
Love this trade. Minnesota picks up 23 million dollars in expiring contracts. This allows them to have max cap space next season. They get to pair Towns up with his former Kentucky point guard Tyler Ulis, something that should boost moral. They also get the 16th pick in a deep draft. Phoenix takes a gamble on Andrew Wiggins. Theoretically, they could put out a core of Ayton, Jackson, Wiggins and Booker next year. Suns fans (I think) would be very excited. They may need to throw in a future first to get this deal done.
Step 3: Clear cap space for the future
Minnesota needs to sell Karl-Anthony Towns on their long-term future. Considering he could be signed to the new rookie max, 5 year extension, this seems like a sensible idea. So, who could the T’Wolves bring in to clear future cap space?
If Lebron moves on from Cleveland, expect the Cavs to trade George Hill’s 20 million dollar expiring contract. Other big name contracts who could simultaneously help the Wolves while also serve as expiring money: Vucevic, Terrence Ross, Markieff Morris, Wes Matthews, Faried, Tobias Harris, Robin Lopez and Demarre Carroll. Minnesota could package or pair intriguing young assets in Justin Patton and Tyus Jones to land one of these expirings. Moving off of Jeff Teague (19 mil) and Gorgui Dieng (16 mil) would be HUGE, so Minnesota could have max cap space in 2019-2020.
Do these steps work? Something has to change. A talent like Towns is too great to tradeaway, or keep unhappy. What would you do?
Let me know @Mattesposito_