Timberwolves Are a Considerable Threat to Land Rudy Gobert

Photo: Jeffrey Swinger – USA TODAY Sports

It’s that time of year, my friends. With the NBA Draft now complete and a new league year looming (June 30), the offseason rumor mill is on fire. There are deals that have already been consummated, but most trade season fireworks are yet to be cast.

We’ve seen the Minnesota Timberwolves mentioned by various outlets, as one of the more active teams on the trade market. One of the big names (and big men) they’ve been linked to is Utah Jazz big man and perennial defensive player of the year candidate, Rudy Gobert.

Timberwolves a “Considerable Threat” for Gobert

But on Wednesday, Action Network’s Matt Moore advanced the Gobert + Wolves conversation in a pretty big way. “The Bulls should be the odds-on favorite for what team Gobert is on next season, even including the Jazz.”, wrote Moore. And, “The Minnesota Timberwolves are a considerable threat to one-up the Bulls as the Timberwolves continue to look for a veteran center to pair with Karl-Anthony Towns.”

That’s not all. Moore made it clear, in his article, that Tim Connelly is intent on pairing KAT with a high-level rim-protecting big. In theory, that should allow KAT to worry more about using his talent to disrupt on defense. Either way, having Gobert behind him to protect the paint, will make any defense look better.

The obvious game planning weapon that Rudy Gobert would add to the Minnesota Timberwolves defensive arsenal, is ‘drop coverage’ vs the pick and roll. When playing “drop”, the big man drops back toward the basket. He then becomes responsible for defending the paint against a P&R.

Why Gobert Makes Sense

Karl-Anthony Towns struggles to play the center position, in the drop scheme. He does much better when jumping screens and forcing ball-handlers to either, a) make a difficult/impossible pass or b) step back toward the half-court line, while KAT and the rest of the defense scrambles to recover. Successful drop coverage, however, has proven critical for playoff-caliber teams late in the season. And Gobert is the best drop coverage big man in the NBA.

The Towns-Center pairing has been a surprise in conversations, but new President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly is convinced that the best way to maximize the roster is to put Towns next to a defensive force who can protect the rim and control the glass. Towns’ elite shooting means that you can still build an offense with enough spacing in a two-big lineup, which is a rarity in the NBA and provides counters to what the Wolves will see in the playoffs. Matt Moore (Action Network)

The Wolves have been tagged to big men like Clint Capela (Atlanta) and Gobert, even before this latest report dropped. But what Connelly is seeking is now clear. He wants a rim protecting big man. It might be Walker Kessler, in the future.

D’Angelo Russell Included in the Deal?

But in the short-term, Connelly wants an option much more established. And he’s clearly willing to pay the piper, if that’s what it takes. Speaking of ‘whatever it takes’, what would it take to land Rudy Gobert? Moore addresses that question, too.

The Wolves’ best asset is D’Angelo Russell, whom multiple sources have said has been actively shopped by Minnesota in recent weeks. Russell shrunk in the playoffs against switch coverage and has always been an unsteady player, further bringing his value into question.Matt Moore (Action Network)

Who Has Best Offer on Table?

Conversations were had with San Antonio, surrounding Dejounte Murray and the Minnesota Timberwolves have also been reported. All initial reports surrounding Murray, Gobert and Capela have been verified as true, by other checkmark-type reporters across the internet, in some way or another.

On Gobert, the difference could be the Chicago Bulls’ willingness to include Patrick Williams, a 6-7, 20 y/o promising young wing player who averaged 9 points and 4 rebounds in 2021. If they don’t add Williams to the package, Moore reports that the Bulls may not have the best offer. That would indicate, given everything else written in this piece, that the Wolves would have the best offer, as of now.

However, if the two primary suitors for a Gobert trade are the Bulls and Wolves, is Russell better than Nikola Vucevic and filler? This is why some executives speculate – and I stress this, speculate – that eventually Chicago will involve Patrick Williams in the deal. — Without Williams, the Bulls’ offer may not be the best on the table. Whether that’s posturing from Utah or not, that’s the consensus. As is typical with these types of negotiations, there’s a standoff element with both sides resolved not to blink. Matt Moore (Action Network)

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan