Unless you’ve been camping out underneath an NBA rock for the last few weeks, you’re probably aware of the fact that the Minnesota Timberwolves are aggressively - aggressively - pursuing Golden State Warriors point guard D’Angelo Russell.
A few weeks ago there were rumors that the Wolves would trade former number one overall pick Andrew Wiggins for Russell, though the Warriors were, quite understandably, uninterested. And then, earlier in the week, it was determined that the teams were still engaged in discussions, though Minnesota wasn’t willing to put their 2020 unprotected first-round pick on the table.
Now it seems as though the Wolves are willing to get creative in their pursuit of the 23-year old All-Star. According to multiple reports, Minnesota is engaging in discussions with the Houston Rockets and Atlanta Hawks, with the hopes of gaining additional assets to send Golden State’s way.
It appears that the Warriors are uninterested in Robert Covington, but the Wolves could use Covington in a separate trade to gain additional draft picks to package in a Russell trade.
According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, the Wolves are now willing to trade their 2020-first round pick, as well as the first-round pick of the Brooklyn Nets for Russell, but the Warriors remain unsold:
The Wolves are in hot pursuit of Russell and are searching for assets to put together an offer that is acceptable to the Warriors. Recently, a three-way deal was discussed that would have sent Robert Covington to Houston, Clint Capela to Atlanta, and Brooklyn’s 2020 first-round pick from Atlanta to Minnesota, according to multiple league sources. But Golden State declined Minnesota’s offer—which included the Brooklyn first and its own first-round pick in 2020—and the three-way talks were put on pause.
It seems likely that the Warriors would much rather trade Russell for a bonafide star or hot prospect than for future draft picks. Still, if they were to end up with three first-rounders - and both Minny’s pick and their own should be very high - they could likely create a package to send elsewhere for a good player.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported something similar on Tuesday morning: That Minnesota is working on a deal with Houston and Atlanta to add draft picks to their stable of assets. Wojnarowski notes that even if the Wolves don’t use those picks to get Russell at the trade deadline, they could be factors in the offseason:
The Timberwolves, Rockets and Hawks possess the assets to fulfill some of each team’s goals: forward Robert Covington to Houston, center Clint Capela to the Hawks and potentially two first-round picks and an expiring contract to Minnesota, league sources said.
For Minnesota, those potential draft assets could be useful in talks with Golden State on a Russell trade, or elsewhere in deals at the trade deadline or in this offseason.
Wojnarowski later clarified on Twitter that the two sides remain far apart.
There still remains a gulf to overcome on the Minnesota-Golden State component of these talks. https://t.co/5sXjHFvOG5— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 4, 2020
The talks are heating up, but it still seems overwhelmingly likely that Russell finishes the season in the Bay Area.
Still, it makes sense for Golden State to be active on the phone lines ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline. If nothing else, the higher they ramp up his price in deadline discussions, the higher the price starts at in the offseason when negotiations open up again.
Also of note regarding Russell: Yesterday, the New York Knicks were reported to have interest in a trade, though it was unclear how they would find any pieces to compel the Warriors.
Now, a day later, the Knicks have fired president Steve Mills, who was leading those talks.
Just yesterday, Steve Mills was on the phone trying to negotiate trades for the Knicks, including a pursuit for Golden State's D'Angelo Russell, league sources tell ESPN. Ownership pushed to change course on plans to forgo trade talks for Marcus Morris, too. He's available now.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 4, 2020
So that’s probably off the table.