So much for the slow sports week.
In an attempt to strategically take some time off to adjust to both family needs and Minnesota’s sports calendar, last week seemed like a good choice. It was a post-NBA draft and a pre-NHL draft. The Vikings have gone off the radar about the only time a year, and so has collegiate sports (probably).
And then, of course, everything broke loose. Kevin Fiala was traded, a probability that now seems like a small footnote to the week. Wes Johnson left the twins. The Big Ten added two California teams. Plus biggest of all: Wolves agreed to trade about a third of their roster and half of their first-round picks for the rest of this decade for Utah center Rudy Gobert.
Patrick Reusse and I talked about this on Tuesday’s catch-up edition of the Daily Delivery podcast.
But let’s spend a little more time talking about the massive Gobert deal, which will take center stage again this week when it’s officially unveiled to Minnesota media and fans.
On paper, the haul could send shivers down the spines of Minnesota fans who remember the ill-fated trade with Herschel Walker. In that deal, Wolves gave up this year’s first-round pick (Walker Kessler), future first-round picks in 2023, 2025, 2027 and 2029, and regular rotation players Jarred Vanderbilt, Patrick Beverley and Malik Beasley (plus underused players) on guard Leandro Bolmaro).
Wolves’ basic play is easy to see: They’re betting that they’ll complement Gobert (signed for four seasons) with Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels, D’Angelo Russell (for now) and other role players, them will be a consistent playoff team, and the draft picks owed to Utah will be low-value picks late in the first round.
But the measure of whether the Wolves ultimately win or lose the trade is probably in the eye of the beholder.
Is it enough to be an annual playoff team capable of finishing in the top four in the Western Conference and winning once it hits the postseason? That would be an obvious improvement over the past two decades, but is it enough? Is it just a success if the Wolves reach an NBA Finals? Win the final?
At the other extreme, due to injury or lack of cohesion, the Wolves somehow fall apart and those draft picks become lottery tickets. That seems unlikely, but measuring failure seems easier than measuring success.
There will be countless twists, turns and hot takes along the way. Gobert will have monster play and it will feel like the best trade ever. Or he’ll miss a few games while Beasley has a hot stretch and it feels like the sky is falling.
My bottom line for now is: the wolves appear to have traded nine dimes for a dollar. It’s a big swing and a trade you make if you’re serious about fighting.