Before the Timberwolves dove headfirst into a supersized frontcourt starring Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota evaluated methods to bolster the other finish of its beginning lineup. The Timberwolves explored the offseason commerce market of level guards, league sources instructed Yahoo Sports, and notably Dejounte Murray.
Another one-time All-Star ball-handler, D’Angelo Russell, has held Minnesota’s beginning position ever because the Timberwolves despatched Andrew Wiggins plus the first-round choose that turned Jonathan Kuminga to Golden State in a bundle for Russell on the 2020 commerce deadline. A 2019 sign-and-trade first delivered Russell to the Warriors from the Nets, following a 2018 deal that shipped Russell from the Los Angeles Lakers to Brooklyn.
He is no stranger to the commerce chatter that is previous this 12 months’s Feb. 9 deadline. Word amongst league personnel of the Wolves’ openness to shifting Russell has solely continued since this summer season’s Murray flirtations. Russell is in the ultimate season of a four-year, $117 million settlement, and there was little progress for any contract extension with the Timberwolves this previous offseason, sources mentioned, making him a pure commerce candidate this winter.
Minnesota could be sensible to transfer Russell now if the staff doesn’t intend to re-sign him by way of Bird rights on the finish of the season. Free brokers have particular person cap holds, or wage placeholders, to set the higher restrict of what their incumbent groups can re-sign that participant for. But if Russell had been to stroll on the open market, Minnesota wouldn’t inherit his $31.3 million wage in open cap house. There are avenues, in that occasion, for the Wolves to clear upwards of $21 million in room, however the state of affairs of Russell exiting the franchise in free company would go away Minnesota with far much less monetary flexibility than if the Wolves returned a bundle commensurate with Russell’s wage prior to the deadline.
Russell is actually paying consideration to the rumor mill. “Yeah, it is my life,” the seven-year veteran instructed Yahoo Sports. “That’s it. Just take heed to it.” He ruffled web feathers by apparently unfollowing the Timberwolves on Jan. 4, the identical day by league executives: swapping Russell to one other staff performing beneath preseason expectations, the Miami Heat, for growing old ground common Kyle Lowry.
Russell has actually felt spurred by the NBA’s transaction tumult in the previous. Following the 2018-19 season, in which he turned an All-Star with Brooklyn, the guard noticeably wore Ohio State gear to Nets amenities throughout spring exercises after he’d realized of Brooklyn’s impending pursuit of Kyrie Irving that summer season, even sharing sentiments of Betrayal to Nets coaches.
“You both reap the benefits of me and my capacity, or f*** up the chance with me,” Russell instructed Yahoo Sports in December. “It’s so simple as that.”
As a part of a response to how he’s at present serving to push fellow Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards, Russell mentioned: “I’m an Alpha as effectively, you already know what I imply? And I really feel like I’m higher than a lot of capturing guards and I’m higher than a lot of level guards.”
The Heat have in reality registered curiosity in Russell, the supply instructed Yahoo Sports, however a direct deal for Lowry would seem unlikely. Lowry is simply a few months away from coming into the ultimate season of his personal contract price roughly $30 million in common annual wage, and it is exhausting to think about Wolves officers being keen to lengthen the growing old guard one other exorbitant payday when he turns into extension eligible this summer season — placing Minnesota in the precise situation it confronted with Russell final July.
In common, there may be little market across the league for level guards making that vary of wage. League executives are monitoring the Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns as groups in search of backcourt enhancements earlier than the deadline. The Suns had been linked to Russell in 2019, and the purpose guard is understood to have a shut relationship with Phoenix All-Star scorer Devin Booker.
But Russell additionally represents Minnesota’s most dynamic playmaker on the perimeter, whereas and particularly as Towns stays sidelined with a calf harm. The Wolves will not merely transfer Russell to transfer him.
Minnesota’s north star nonetheless resides in playoff competition with this wonky roster development.