The Minnesota Timberwolves had a very successful 2021-22 season, getting to the playoffs for the first-time since 2018 and just the second-time since 2005.
Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards are two All-Star-like talents that this organization looks to have their hands on for many years to come, but the status of the team’s third All-Star in D’Angelo Russell seems to be a little bit in doubt entering the offseason.
Russell has battled knee and leg injuries for quite some time, forcing him to miss action during the regular season, and his numbers in Minnesota’s first-round playoff series against Memphis were very underwhelming, as he averaged just 12.0 points and shot just 33.3% from the floor in six games.
He is not the reason that the Timberwolves lost this series to the Memphis Grizzlies, but Russell definitely did not help his team much.
Heading into the offseason with new ownership beginning to take over, the Minnesota Timberwolves are going to be searching for answers on how to build off of the 2021-22 season, a year in which they ascended to being a playoff team in the Western Conference.
Could this mean that D’Angelo Russell will be on the trade block and that the Timberwolves will look to pursue a trade involving him?
According to NBA insider Marc Stein, there could be a change in the Timberwolves’ backcourt this upcoming offseason and rival teams expect the team to explore D’Angelo Russell trade opportunities.
Entering the offseason, Russell will have just one more year left on his contract at $31.3 million and he is extension-eligible, but many around the league are not viewing him as a max-contract type of player anymore given his long-term injury concerns and lack of production when it mattered most for Minnesota this season.
Averaging 18.1 points, 7.1 assists and shooting 41.1% from the floor during the regular season, Russell was still one of the better scoring options on the Timberwolves’ roster and he helped form one of the better offensive trios in the league alongside Towns and Edwards.
However, moving D’Angelo Russell could open up the door for the Timberwolves to put the ball in the hands of future All-Star Anthony Edwards more, as well as open up cap space to address other key needs on their roster.
Finding more stability in the frontcourt behind Karl-Anthony Towns is something the team explored doing at the trade deadline this season and finding another versatile scorer on the wing is a must for this team, even if said player acts in more of a “sixth-man-like” role.
Towns and Edwards are not going to be able to carry this team past the first-round of the playoffs on their own, which is why adding that third high-level scoring option is going to be key.
D’Angelo Russell can absolutely be this type of player at this point in his career, especially since he is only 26, but paying him long-term is not something that the Timberwolves are looking to do as of right now by the looks of things.
It is worth noting though that Towns and Russell are very close friends and getting rid of the former All-Star point guard could cause some imbalance between Karl-Anthony Towns and the Timberwolves’ management.
There has been a ton of speculation about whether Towns will remain in Minnesota for the vast majority of his career and being extension-eligible himself this offseason, what happens with D-Lo could greatly impact Towns’ future with the Timberwolves.
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