Are you sick of all the Kyrie Irving trade rumors yet? With reports that the Minnesota Timberwolves have offered a 5-year extension to Andrew Wiggins and owner, Glenn Taylor essentially confirming Wiggins is there to stay, one has to ask: What are the Minnesota Timberwolves offering for Irving if Wiggins is off-the-table?
Currently off-the-table in any trade
If we take a look at the Timberwolves' roster as it stands right now, there is an array of quality players who could snag significant pieces such as Irving if offered in any trade. However, there are different circumstances for why a player can't/won't move in any deal for Irving. Let us start with the obvious.
What else can you say? Towns was a beast last season. He averaged 25.1 points, 12.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks with a 26 player efficiency rating (PER) for the 2016-2017 NBA season. In his second year under coach, Tom Thibodeau's system, and the added defensive firepower in Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson, expect Towns to round his game this season defensively. Towns is viewed around the league as one of the most talented NBA players right now. He has the potential to eclipse being a Top-5 player in the league someday and is 99% untouchable in almost any trade offered for him.
Technically, the Timberwolves could trade Jimmy Butler now if they wanted to, but has the thought ever crossed Thibodeau's mind? Of course not, Minnesota didn't give up Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and the 2016 7th-overall pick (Lauri Markkanen) so that they could flip Butler in any future deals. Thibodeau had been flirting with the idea of acquiring Butler since he first moved into the role of President and coach after the 2015-2016 season. Butler is a two-way star and a top-15 player in the NBA. Consider him almost untouchable.
Cannot be Moved, Contractually Speaking
Let's keep it short and straightforward. These players cannot be traded until December 14, 2017, because they just signed with the Timberwolves during the free agency period.
Ricky Rubio's successor, Jeff Teague signed because he is a better pick-and-roll player. With his ability to hit open shots, he will keep defenses honest. Thought to be a quality point guard signing (and still is), has now become an after-thought for most people since the Irving to Minnesota rumors ignited. Can you blame the fans and media though? It's hard to ignore the storyline that an NBA champion and superstar wants to join your club. Hypothetically, if Irving to move to Minnesota, Teague would most likely be dealt mid-December to help round out the roster.
High-motor, defensive-banger and can finish around the rim. Gibson is an ultimate team player and will affect the defensive tenacity significantly. He is also a quality person in general off the court. Gibson has a love for philanthropy and brings the Wolves some big man depth.
Jamal Crawford is ancient at 37-years-old, has been declining since the 2014-2015 season, is not the greatest defender and did I mention he is very old? Forget all of that! Crawford was signed to be the microwave bench scorer. He should add between 10-15 points a game while shooting in the upper-30s, percent wise, on his three point attempts. He will fill in nicely for Shabazz Muhammad who is expected to sign elsewhere.
The other guys who are on the table
These are the rest of the players on the roster who are available in the Irving potential trade. Without Wiggins attached to any deal, it is hard to imagine the Cavaliers accepting any offer the Wolves have thrown out there.
Gorgui Dieng, Tyus Jones, Nemanja Bjelica, Cole Aldrich and rookie, Justin Patton
Dieng is the only player on this list who probably has some actual value. What he brings is consistency. He will average ten points, rebound close to double-digits per game, passes well for a big man, and plays adequate defense. The biggest knock on him last season was rim protection. Like Towns, Dieng needs to work on his team defense, but overall he is an underrated player in this league and would be a welcome addition to every team in the NBA.
Although they both showed improvements last season, Jones and Bjelica won't have much value until they can become consistent contributors off the bench.
Jones has played well enough to at least be a consideration as the primary backup behind Teague. He is a perfect fit in the system because he can make open shots. He is athletically limited and can be a defensive liability at times, but when he gets minutes, he performs.
Before he got injured for the remaining of the season, Bjelica showed glimpses of quality play. The stats won't do him any favors, but if you watched him in any games last season, you could see that Bjelica has a smooth shot, and when motivated, can play adequate defense. Bjelica could see time at small forward if the Timberwolves have a hard time filling out their roster with quality wings before the start of the season.
The Trade Prediction
Since Wiggins is likely off-the-table, here is my guess of what the Timberwolves offered for Irving if it was a straight deal, with no other teams involved.
Dieng, Jones, Bjelica, the Oklahoma City 2018 first-round draft pick, and maybe a future first rounder.
In all honesty, that sucks for the Cavaliers value-wise. Potentially trading a 25-year-old superstar for Dieng and a bag of peanuts would mostly be laughed at around the league if it were accepted.
That trade also hurts the Wolves depth, but I am sure nobody would complain about a big three of Irving, Butler, and Towns. I am sure players would gravitate to Minnesota on minimum deals if the lineup looked like this:
(Teague, Crawford, Aldrich, and Patton coming off the bench)
Filling out the remaining five open roster spots could prove to be tough. We could see a bench filled with over-the-hill players, G-Leaguers trying to prove themselves, and maybe even someone like me, your average guy off the street on a 10-day contract (just kidding).
Overall, with the Minnesota Timberwolves planning on extending Wiggins for five more years, it is hard to imagine the Cavaliers agreeing to any deal the Wolves have to offer.
*All statistics used in this article have been pulled from nba.com/stats, basketball-reference.com, and espn.com