Despite failing to qualify for the playoffs, the Phoenix Suns went an incredible 8-0 in the Orlando bubble. Devin Booker was on fire. During this 8 game stretch, Booker and the Suns have showed they may be putting it all together.
If the Timberwolves are still set on acquiring Booker, do they have enough assets to make the Suns blink, even? Or has Booker officially priced him out of joining the Timberwolves, based on his performance inside the bubble?
Devin Booker’s season:— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) August 14, 2020
30.5 PPG – 6.0 APG – 4.9 RPG
Only 23 years old…salute to Devin Booker on a great season ? pic.twitter.com/FVXWkvL51M
WHAT CAN THE WOLVES OFFER?
After trading for D’Angelo Russell, the Wolves find themselves a little short on assets. Thankfully, Brooklyn made the playoffs so the Wolves have TWO first round picks in the upcoming October draft. One of those picks will be in the lottery (because the Timberwolves sucked again last season). Post-bubble, those picks alone won’t be enough to get Phoenix to answer the phone.
Josh Okogie represents one potential trade chip for the Timberwolves. After some early struggles offensively, Okogie started to pick up his scoring before the season was halted due to COVID-19. In 11 games after the All-Star break, Okogie shot 50% from the field and 36% from 3. Josh already brings great defense, so the Suns could look at him as a project off the bench, with room to grow.
Jarrett Culver is another potential trade chip the Suns could find tantalizing. Culver is a similar player to Okogie, an athletic defensive wing with shooting upside. Culver has come along more quickly with his offense, than Okogie did. Culver shot a healthy 49% from the field and 42% from 3pt, in the final 11 games of the Timberwolves season. Even though the two of them being similar players, wing depth is a valuable commodity in today’s NBA.
SALARY MATCH AN ISSUE?
Because Booker signed a max extension with Phoenix in 2018, the Timberwolves would need to make the salaries match, in a trade. One veteran trade chip the Wolves could push to the middle of the table, is James Johnson. He is making $15 million on a player option. After that, the Wolves have cap hits of Jarrett Culver ($6.1 million), Jake Layman ($3.7 million), Josh Okogie ($2.7 million), and Jacob Evans ($2 million).
- Treveon Graham, expiring 1/16/21 — $228,505
- Jeff Teague, expiring 1/16/21 — $500,000
- Gorgui Dieng, expiring 2/6/21 — $879,813
Now those may not seem like much, but the Timberwolves do appear to have enough assets to make a deal happen. They could of course get another team involved to help further match salaries. There are always willing NBA teams, looking to offload or take on expiring contracts.
HOW HAVE THE WOLVES DONE IN RECENT TRADES?
Obviously the Butler trade was the biggest the team has made since Kevin Garnett left for Boston. LaVine was beginning to show flashes of being a starting-caliber guard. The pick the Timberwolves traded ended up as Lauri Markkanen, who has been a promising young player for Chicago. Even Kris Dunn has showed flashes of success, since the trade, that he failed to show in Minnesota. The Wolves only got one season out of Butler, while the Bulls continue to get solid minutes from the former Wolves’ assets.
Golden State has agreed to trade D’Angelo Russell to Minnesota for a deal that includes Andrew Wiggins, a 2021 protected first-round pick and a 2022 second-round pick, league sources tell ESPN. Warriors will send Jacob Evans and Omari Spellman to Timberwolves too.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 6, 2020
Many Wolves fans were upset that Andrew Wiggins was kept rather than traded, in the Jimmy Butler deal. They got their wish when Wiggins was dealt for Russell. The Timberwolves were hoping to sign Russell in free agency, but he ultimately chose Golden State (despite questions about his fit on the team).
CAN THEY PULL IT OFF?
Other teams might have to get involved for money to work but, ultimately, it’s going to come down to Devan Booker’s desire to leave Phoenix. The Suns could look at their 8-0 stretch, inside the bubble, as a sign of the team coming together under Monty Williams. Even before that, they weren’t going to be in any big hurry to deal their 23-year-old superstar.
If Booker makes a request for a trade, Gersson Rosas should be ready to pull the trigger with his best offer (he will be). Whether or not it is enough will depend on what others are offering and how desperate Phoenix feels in that moment.
Seth Toupal | Minnesota Sports Fan