NBA Rumor: Andrew Wiggins Trade

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I’m told Golden State would prefer to add a veteran rotation player and move back in the lottery in exchange for this pick, with Andrew Wiggins and his massive salary a candidate to move elsewhere to make money work. They are certainly comfortable picking further down based on the players they’ve worked out. The most logical trade partners here are San Antonio and Detroit: Both can use a long-term center in Wiseman, have lottery picks to send back, and can offer All-Star-caliber bigs (albeit aging ones) in LaMarcus Aldridge or Blake Griffin, respectively.

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There’s a hold-up: Minnesota isn’t offering enough draft compensation. As it stands, the Warriors have been offered Minnesota’s 2020 first-round pick and Brooklyn’s 2020 first-round pick, which would be sent via Atlanta as part of what is effectively a four-team trade with the Hawks and Rockets. But the Warriors want future firsts instead of picks in 2020—most importantly, they want an unprotected first-round pick in 2021, which will have a much stronger draft class than the one coming this June.

The Athletic: Does that cut both ways, I wonder? Like if the front office makes a move that wasn’t on your radar and then in hindsight you’re looking at it saying, ‘I’m not sure I like that…’ Karl-Anthony Towns: I think it would hurt the star player or player (that’s) highly regarded in the organization if they didn’t feel confidence in the front office. I do. I feel very confident in Gerss and (coach) Ryan (Saunders) and all of them. So like I said, whatever they do, I’m going to support because I know they’re trying to make the right decisions for us to win.

Part of the motivation for Minnesota’s Russell chase, quite clearly, is his relationship with Towns. They are close friends. Towns was part of the contingent that pitched Russell hard this summer. The Wolves know that acquiring Russell not only gets Towns his preferred pick-and-roll partner but also buys them time and faith. The Warriors are aware of this dynamic. It automatically bumps up Russell’s market value in conversations with the Wolves. Minnesota has dangled Andrew Wiggins, who is on a similar contract as Russell and fills a greater positional need. But from a Warriors’ perspective, that’s still a questionable talent-for-talent swap. Most around the league view Russell as better than Wiggins. It’s a move only a panicked front office would make.

The Warriors are aware of this dynamic. It automatically bumps up Russell’s market value in conversations with the Wolves. Minnesota has dangled Andrew Wiggins, who is on a similar contract as Russell and fills a greater positional need. But from a Warriors’ perspective, that’s still a questionable talent-for-talent swap. Most around the league view Russell as better than Wiggins. It’s a move only a panicked front office would make. But the Warriors aren’t in a panic about Russell. Unless the Wolves unload the vault — something like Robert Covington and Josh Okogie plus a basket of appealing, unprotected picks — it’s wiser for the Warriors to wait until past this deadline on Russell and perhaps well beyond.

The belief across the league this summer was that Wiggins could be had for the right offer. Rosas did not acquire him in trade and did not sign him to the max contract extension. But the two have formed a strong relationship in the early going and Wiggins has also responded well to Saunders’ coaching when it comes to changing his shot profile. There is no indication that the team is looking to trade Wiggins right now. The team has been both privately and publicly encouraged by Wiggins’ willingness to embrace this new approach and the results that have come with it. Saunders is firmly in his corner and Rosas has forged a strong working relationship with him.

“I went through a lot earlier in my career and everything, he was there to listen to me and help me out,” Wiggins told SI.com. “To give me advice. So he got my trust and respect early.” Together, Rosas and Saunders had one question: Did Wiggins want to be there? Rosas remembers the answer, vividly. “He said, ‘Hey, I don’t want to go anywhere. I want to be successful here. I want the organization to be successful and I want to do everything within my power to make that happen,’” Rosas said. “I took him at his word.”

Former Atlanta Hawks general manager Wes Wilcox appeared on NBA TV on Monday and discussed six players who could be traded now, later this season and in the future. The list included Oklahoma City point guard Chris Paul, Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love, Washington Wizard shooting guard Bradley Beal, Minnesota Timberwolves small forward Andrew Wiggins, Memphis Grizzlies small forward Andre Iguodala and Booker. Wilcox put Booker and Wiggins in the “future” category. “Of these six names, Chris Paul and (Andre) and Iguodala, we know that they’re in the trade market and they’re available,” said Wilcox during NBA TV’s 2019-20 regular-season schedule release special Monday. “Of these other four names, we can probably take (Andrew) Wiggins and (Devin) Booker into the future,” Wilcox continued.

Towns and Russell were taken Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in the 2015 NBA draft and have been close friends since high school. Towns is really high on adding Russell, sources said. It would take moving Andrew Wiggins or a combination of Jeff Teague and Gorgui Dieng to open the space needed for Minnesota to sign Russell. The Nets would have two days to match a signed offer sheet to retain Russell.

MARC STEIN: The Spurs’ asking price for a player regarded as the league’s most menacing two-way force when healthy, for the moment, is thus still said to be rather high. But I have little doubt Ujiri is willing to trade any Raptor on the roster if he finds a deal he likes — even after LeBron James’ departure to the Western Conference. The Raptors, I’m told, held exploratory discussions in the summer of 2017 with Minnesota on a deal that would have been headlined by DeRozan and the Timberwolves’ Canadian swingman Andrew Wiggins. No trade materialized, but it reaffirms the notion that not even DeRozan, at the peak of his career, is untouchable in Toronto.

One name brought up often in recent days has been Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan, who could become available should the Raptors look to make wholesale changes following a third straight loss to LeBron James and the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Wiggins’ Canadian roots could make him an attractive option for the Raptors and good reason to hope that they could get the best out of him while playing in his backyard. In some ways, DeRozan could provide a good blueprint for Wiggins to follow. DeRozan didn’t become a real star in the league until his fifth year and has proven to be effective even though he isn’t a knockdown three-point shooter. But his game is also similar to Butler’s, so it is hard to see how a swap like that would give the Wolves what they are looking for in terms of a different look aside their leader.

But from what I can gather, Wiggins doesn’t have a huge amount of value on the market right now. He’s about to start a five-year, $148 million contract and is coming off of a less-than-convincing fourth season in the league. If there isn’t a great market, they might be better off just holding on to him and trying to keep developing him. I still think that the best possible outcome for the Wolves is to get Wiggins to blossom into the kind of All-Star caliber player the organization envisioned when he was signed to the max extension.

Nate Duncan: Do you think that Andrew Wiggins, a couple of years from now, is on [the Minnesota Timberwolves]? Do you think there’s a chance they might move on from him, given how he’s played this year? Marc Stein: I think that’s something that people will be looking at and I think other teams will be coming after him. Because he’s, at best, gonna be the third option if you’re playing with Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns. [….] I don’t think there’s any question that Wiggins’ future is gonna be talked about. He’s under contract now—it’s a big number but for some teams, that appeals, to be able to get a guy when there is contract certainty and you know you’ve got him, there will be teams who want to trade for that.

The Timberwolves explored several trade options in June, including for Chicago star Jimmy Butler, but Thibodeau, also Minnesota’s president of basketball operations, now sounds as committed as anyone in the franchise to his young trio. Outside the organization, executives wonder about Minnesota’s inclination to keep all three. But within the franchise, there is no question: management and owner Glen Taylor will do whatever it takes financially in order to win. “I love our core three guys, and what I love most is their work ethic, their dedication to work,” Thibodeau said. “They understand the level we need to reach, particularly defensively, and their work shows that they will work to get it right. We understand that it’s going to take some time and we need to work at it each and every day.”
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January 25, 2021 | 10:04 pm EST Update