5 takeaways about Rudy Gobert's reported trade with Timberwolves

5 takeaways about Rudy Gobert’s reported trade with Timberwolves | Pro Club Bd

Rudy Gobert, three-time Kia Defensive Player of the Year, has reportedly been traded to the Timberwolves.

With the Stifle Tower reportedly moving from Salt Lake to the Twin Cities, here are five takeaways on potential Rudy Gobert trades. And make no mistake, for all the pieces and future assets going to Utah, this transaction will forever be determined by how well the Timberwolves perform after adding the NBA’s preeminent rim protector and shot blocker.

1. This is a big deal

At a time when many NBA teams seemed reluctant to play traditional big men, Wolves will be looking to play a pair: Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns. And they will be pay two of them too: Only three centers in league history have ever signed deals worth more than $200 million, and now two of them play in Minnesota; Denver’s back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic is third since Thursday — Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid was absent from his $196 million extension last summer.

The corresponding figure next season will be $72 million, with Gobert subtracting $38.2 million and Towns subtracting $33.8 million. But keep in mind that the four-year, $224 million “supermax” extension Towns landed this week doesn’t start until 2024-25 and runs through 2027-28.

In 2025-26 — the final year of Gobert’s deal — he ($46.6 million) and KAT ($54.1 million) will suck up more than $100 million from Minnesota’s payroll. Just the two.

There are other numbers that come into play: Together, the two big men have six All-Star appearances, six All-NBA berths, six All-Defense selections (all Gobert), and three Defensive Player of the Year honors (Gobert again) earned. and a 3-point shooting trophy (February All-Star Weekend Cities).


2nd CAT stays and emotional

Towns: “I’m very honored to wear this shirt.”

Towns got his contract extension one day and his freedom the next. That said, this trade frees him from the heavy lifting of defending and scoring in the suit.

The 26-year-old is a tremendously experienced attacking player and is already used throughout the attacking zone by Wolves coach Chris Finch. His 3-point ability in Cleveland was no fluke in February – Towns made 41% of his attempts last season (150 to 366). His 39.7% career percentage leads all centers in league history and ranks 17thth among all active players and is the only center in the top 25.

He’s also a willing passer and now has a big target near the rim in Gobert. The Jazz center hasn’t shot much and has created most of his chances from the offensive glass, but he has led the NBA in field goal percentage three of the last four seasons.

Karl-Anthony Towns wins the MTN DEW 3-Point Contest as 1st center.

On defense – never Towns’ strength – Gobert lightens the load on his new teammate. Not just individually against the biggest opponents, either: the cities’ mandatory role of helping against intrusion and cleaning up the fringes got him into nasty trouble too often, and any additional interaction with the officials could trigger his complaints and grumblings. That gets him out of the danger zone there, too.

Anthony Edwards, Minnesota’s exuberant, explosive wing, will play a huge role in the franchise’s future for his raw athletic ability and repertoire of standout moves. But for now, this is the Towns team… and the Towns cities (there are two of them in the Twin Cities, doncha know).

“I think our goal is to win enough games to put KAT’s jersey in the rafters,” new basketball operations president Tim Connelly told The Athletic. “He’s a guy who’s been through so much and he just keeps getting better. We will go as far as he takes us.”


3. The wolves are all in

Finishing games was a big problem for the young Timberwolves. Still, this playoff experience, bad as it looked at times, should stand them in good stead.

Teams like the one in Minnesota — cold weather, non-glamorous, the backcountry of NBA outposts — have traditionally been limited in their ability to improve. The proverbial three-legged stool of drafts, trades, and free agency mostly falters to two, with few players targeting wolves.

This trade means they will be primarily relying on one for the foreseeable future. Because they surrendered four first-round picks to Utah, three of them completely naked and the 2029 pick with top-five protection. There’s also reportedly a pick swap in 2026. And if you count center Walker Kessler, Minnesota’s 22nd-pick pick from last week’s draft, that essentially makes six No. 1s. That’s more than the franchise did before took away a few decades for circumventing Joe Smith’s salary cap.

Also don’t forget Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Jarred Vanderbilt and Leandro Balmoro. Some were helpful role players under Finch. Beasley could be unpredictable, but was the team’s most successful 3-point shooter. Beverley was a main full-back and irritating. Vanderbilt leaning in as a defensive and rebounding caddy from Towns.

So there will be trades, most likely on the fringes, and then a fair amount of coaching and internal development with the updated roster. Taurean Prince rose again when the free agency bell rang, and Wolves brought in Memphis forward Kyle Anderson as a versatile backup. They have great faith in returnees Jaden McDaniels and Jaylen Nowell and hope for rookies Wendell Moore and Josh Minott.


4. Scaffolding in Salt Lake City

Why it finally seemed time for jazz to separate Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell.

As ESPN’s Brian Windhorst noted prior to that deal, there was something afoot with Utah based on the trade of starter Royce O’Neale to Brooklyn for a 2023 election. Then Gobert leaves. Now Donovan Mitchell gets the most likely speculation.

Of course, Quin Snyder’s departure as head coach from a team he’d led to 108 .500 games over the past six seasons was white smoke enough to indicate boss Danny Ainge’s mindset. This first round/semi-final upper limit was no longer sufficient. Change was on the way and it’s coming, in a plethora of draft picks second only to OKC’s constant hoard Sam Presti.

Ainge has done this before, rounding up picks in Boston by unsentimentally trading aging Celtics icons Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn. He’s also using the Timberwolves – again – to revamp his franchise, albeit in a mirrored version of the original 2007 Garnett trade.

Except he pulls off this heist with his buddy Kevin McHale, who’s long gone from the Minnesota front office.


5. The crucial question: How much better have the wolves gotten?

There’s no point in calculating Utah’s overall wins as a result of this deal — that’s what the Jazz has been looking for now. But the wolves clearly think this is the next step in their timeline. In April, they emerged from the Western Conference Play-In tournament to face Memphis in the first round, only the team’s second best-of-seven chance since 2004. In all honesty, they probably should have beaten the Grizzlies if not for inexperience, gluing their degrees in tight games.

With Connelly at the helm, Finch earning his own contract extension and new owners Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore on the horizon, this is no time for the Wolves to retreat to their den of lottery balls. The Minnesota fan base was exhausted by humble ambitions and unrelenting disappointments.

Defense and paint protection was an issue. Wolves ranked 13th in defensive efficiency (111.0 points per 100 possessions) and 16th in rebounding (25th on defensive glass) last season. Gobert helps there. Moving Towns to power forward opens up his full arsenal and suggests new improved opportunities alongside Edwards.

But will it do in a daunting Western Conference? The Warriors, Suns, Nuggets, Grizzlies, Clippers and maybe the Mavericks look as good or better than they were, at least on paper. And that’s before considering New Orleans and whatever Lakers permutation comes up.

Given the price paid for Gobert – as opposed to bundling those assets to pursue Dejounte Murray or a sign-and-trade from Deandre Ayton – it will be questionable whether Connelly is getting enough. The tall Frenchman might have brought the West’s semi-final cap.

Steve Aschburner has been writing about the NBA since 1980. You can email him here, his archive can be found here and Follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs, or Turner Broadcasting.

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