Timberwolves Trade Recent First-Round Draft Selection to Pistons; Swap 2nd Rounders

Timberwolves
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The first day of the 2024 NBA Draft was all about adding offensive playmakers capable of lightening the scoring off Anthony Edwards’ shoulders for the Minnesota Timberwolves. But for the first time ever, there’s now a second day of the NBA Draft, and Tim Connelly is already making moves hours before the Timberwolves are on the clock.

The Timberwolves were supposed to head into Round 2 tonight with the 37th overall pick. But not anymore. According to Shams Charania, the Wolves have traded Wendell Moore Jr. plus the 37th pick to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for the 53rd overall pick.

Why would the Minnesota Timberwolves make this trade?

On the surface, it seems like a very odd move for the Timberwolves. Why trade Moore, who was the 26th overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, plus the 37th pick, only to move down 16 spots in the draft? Typically, teams that give up a young player plus an upcoming draft selection end up with the higher pick. Not in this case.

While we’ll let Connelly speak for himself on exactly why this move was made, our initial takeaway is that the Timberwolves did this simply to clear some money off their cap sheet. While Moore is not an expensive player, he is set to have a $2.5 million cap hit this season.

After that, his cap number would jump to $4.5 million, but only if the Timberwolves (now the Pistons) pick up the team option on Moore’s contract. From how little Moore has contributed to the Wolves over the past two seasons, it’s unlikely that the team would have kept him around at that salary.

Related: Confirmed: Rob Dillingham Will Get Run with Timberwolves Immediately

Trading him now is also a bit of a sign of respect, giving Moore a chance to latch on in a bigger role with a team that doesn’t have several players ahead of him on the depth chart. It’s a classic move that the Timberwolves of old, when they weren’t competitive, would have done, just to take a chance on a player with some untapped potential.

Ultimately, it’s a clean break for the Timberwolves, clearing the path for Jaylen Clark, Josh Minott, and Terrence Shannon Jr. Oddly enough, they move to pick No. 53, which is notably just two selections ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers’ pick, who are heavily linked to drafting Bronny James. Yet, the Timberwolves reportedly have interest in Bronny too. We’re not saying this is the move, but it’s something to keep an eye on tonight.

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