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Navigating the D’Angelo Russell Drama, Trade Rumors, and Future With the Team

D'Angelo Russell is looking for a fresh start and the Timberwolves should be too

There are many ways to win a game of basketball; showering the rim with threes, feistily fighting for offensive boards, dogged defense, the list goes on and on. Ultimately, one team’s got to score more points than the other. Assemble a team full of players that can accomplish that simple yet puzzling task costs money, time, and effort. Draft the right players, find the right coaches, agree on multi-million dollar contracts for said players and coaching staffs… it takes a lot to be the last team on a win streak.

The Minnesota Timberwolves may not be ready nor expected to fly their colors come June, but neither were the Boston Celtics halfway through last season (look where they ended up). Not every struggling squad spins around the script like Boston, but every team should evaluate the efficacy of their roster and the holes it may need filling.

Whether or not the cursed-to-be-disappointing Wolves should make moves is today’s topic. This article isn’t so much about fake trades or desperation wish lists as it is a reality check.

Navigating the D’Angelo Russell Trade Rumors, Drama, and Future

D’Angelo Russell has averaged 18-3-6 with 1.5 stocks (steals plus blocks) this season. He’s been efficient with a 60.3% true shooting percentage. He’s been a poor defender based on both the eye test and metrics. Like every player, he has his strengths and weaknesses. He’s had his moments, but he’s also done plenty to warrant trading block conversations.

Teams need organization. There are the star players, the glue guys, role players, veteran leaders, and enforcers… It wouldn’t be right to call Russell a bad player that needs to be traded just because. Russell can score. At this point, it’d be silly to expect him to suddenly provide immense value defensively. His current role doesn’t dictate that.

The problem with Russell is tied to the ongoing problems with Rudy Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Anthony Edwards. When Tim Connelly sold the farm to acquire Gobert, he shifted the trajectory of the team. Russell had a nuanced role in a KAT-only defense, but he’s been a screen navigator (which is not his calling card) with Gobert on the team.

Who would best replace Russell? The most pressing needs for the Wolves certainly include a pass-first point guard (Jordan McLaughlin is still out but fits the bill).

His Contract Complicates Things

In the final year of his 4-year, $117.32 million contract, Russell is trying to earn himself another more-than-okay payday. If the Wolves don’t resign him now and he walks, they won’t be able to afford him in the summer (or any player of his price tag, for that matter). Anthony Edwards‘ looming max contract won’t allow room for anyone not named D’Angelo Russell not signed soon.

The Wolves essentially have just three choices: let him walk after the season, resign him now to a cheaper deal (with Russell on board with it), or trade him now to avoid all this mess.

Trade Speculation

Tim Connelly gets the final say, and he’s shown the fanbase he’s got bigger plans for the team.

Kyle Lowry is the oldest and most frequent name connected to Russell. Tim Hardaway Jr, Terry Rozier, Fred VanVleet, Marcus Morris, and Luke Kennard have been other popular names.

Do any of those names fill a hole? Yes, but not all of them.

Point Guards

Neither Rozier nor VanVleet are considered true point guards. If the argument for trading Russell was to get a distributing devotee, these guys aren’t it. VanVleet, however, would be quite the upgrade.

VanVleet has not enjoyed a career shooting year like Russell, but he stacks up well in every other facet of the game. A proven defender to navigate screens and deter cuts is valuable, but he just hasn’t been an impressively efficient scorer.

If VanVleet was to suit up for the Wolves, he’d likely share lead ball-handling duties with Edwards in the starting lineup. Every night would be an opportunity for him to shut down opposing point guards, as he doesn’t defend many other positions. He’s struggled scoring closer to the hoop, but hopefully, a drive-heavy offense with Edwards, Towns, Nowell, McDaniels, and crew would open up catch-and-shoot opportunities for him that the Raptors have not.


Including the injured Towns, the Wolves have a handful of shooters. Jaden McDanielsTaurean Princeand a suddenly elite Kyle Anderson have made at least 38.0% of their three-pointers this season. Russell has also converted at a 38.6% clip, so shooting is not an issue in Minnesota. Hardaway and Kennard just would not be worth losing Russell for.

Bryn Forbes was brought on to be a high attempt rate three-point shooter, but he’s been out of the rotation for some time. Still, the team already has a shooter in-house for little cost.


The Wolves have an abundance of centers and power forwards up and down their depth chart. Gobert, Towns, Naz Reid, Nathan Knight, and Luka Garza have given the team serviceable minutes, so an abundance of Marcus Morris playing time would be difficult to justify.

It’d be best to fetch a guard or wing in a Russell trade.


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