With the Stifle Tower moving from Salt Lake to the Twin Cities, here are five quick ways around Rudy Gobert’s potential trade. And make no mistake, for all future bits and assets headed to Utah, this transaction will forever be determined by how well the Timberwolves performed after adding a notable NBA rim guard and blocker.
1. This is a big deal
At a time when many NBA teams seemed unwilling to play the traditional big men, Wolves will try to play a pair: Joubert and Karl-Anthony Towns. And they will be Pay Two of them too: only three centers in league history signed contracts worth over $200 million, and now two of them play in Minnesota; Denver’s back-to-back Nikola Jokic is third through Thursday — Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid lost his $196 million extension last summer.
The appropriate figure next season would be $72 million, with Joubert cutting $38.2 million and Towns $33.8 million. Keep in mind, though, that the $224 million “supermax” extension that took off this week for four years won’t start until 2024-25, and runs until 2027-28.
So in 2025-26 – the final year of the Joubert deal – he ($46.6 million) and KAT ($54.1 million) will receive more than $100 million in Minnesota salaries. Only two of them.
There are other numbers that influence: Combined, the two big men have earned six All-Star games, six All-NBA berths, six All-Defense Picks (all Gobert), three Defensive Player of the Year awards (again, Gobert) and a 3 Shooting Cup Points (Cities in All-Star Weekend in February).
2. KAT stays And the moves
Cities was locked up with his contract extended one day, then secured his freedom the next. This means that this trade frees him from the heavy lifting of defending and scoring in paint.
A highly skilled attacking player, the 6-foot-11, 26-year-old is already being used throughout the attacking area by Wolverhampton coach Chris Finch. His 3-point prowess in Cleveland wasn’t a fluke in February — Towns made 41% of his attempts last season (throwing 150 for 366). His career rate of 39.7% leads all positions in league history and is ranked 17The tenth Among all the active players, making it the only place in the top 25.
He’s a voluntary passerby as well, and he now has a big target in Joubert near the edge. The Jazz center hasn’t shot much and has gotten most of his chances from offensive glass, but he’s led the NBA in field goals percentage in three of the past four seasons.
In defense – Towns’s forever forte – Joubert eases his new teammate’s burden. Not just individually against the biggest opponents, either: Cities’ obligatory role in helping against hacking and cleaning up at the edge often puts him in bad trouble, and any further interaction with officials could provoke his complaints and grumbling. This gets him out of harm’s way there, too.
Anthony Edwards, a racy Minnesota bomber winger, looms large in the franchise’s future for his raw athleticism and repertoire of ready-to-light moves. But for now, that’s Team Towns… and Town Towns (there are two of them in Twin Cities, Donsha knows).
“I think our goal is to win enough games to put a KAT jersey in the rafters,” new chief of basketball operations Tim Connelly said the athlete. “He is a man who has been through a lot, and he is getting better and better. We will go as far as it takes us.”
3. Wolves are in everything
Teams like those in Minnesota — the cold weather, not the luscious, most remote areas of the NBA outposts — have traditionally been limited in avenues for improvement. The proverbial three-legged seat of drafts, trades and free agencies mostly swings by two, with a few players choosing wolves as the destination market.
This trade means they will mostly rely on one for the foreseeable future. Because they handed four first-round picks to Utah, three of them completely naked and the 2029 pick with the top 5 protection. That said, there’s also a picks trade-off in 2026. And if you count the Walker Kessler center back, Minnesota’s 22nd-ranked return from last week’s draft, that basically makes him a No. 1 six. That’s more than just a franchise stripped by Joe Smith’s salary cap overrun. two decades ago.
Don’t forget the owner of Paisley, Patrick Beverly, Jared Vanderbilt, and Leandro Palmoro, too. Several of them were instrumental under Finch’s leadership. Paisley can be erratic but he was the most prolific 3-point shooter. Beverly was a major defender of the ocean and a nuisance. Vanderbilt relied on Towns’ defensive and rebounding box.
So it will be deals, probably around the edges, and then a lot of in-house training and development with the updated roster. Turan Prince rebounded again when the free agency bell rang, and Wolves chose Memphis forward Kyle Anderson as their versatile assistant. They’re placing great faith in returning Jaden McDaniels and Jaylene Noel, with hopes for starters Wendell Moore and Josh Minot.
4. Scaffolding in Salt Lake City
As ESPN’s Brian Windhurst noted before this deal was struck, something was afoot with Utah based on initially trading Royce O’Neill to Brooklyn in the 2023 pick. Then Goubert goes. Now Donovan Mitchell gets the most likely speculation next.
Of course, leaving Quin Snyder as head coach from a team he’s led to 108 games over 0.500 games over the past six seasons has been white enough smoke to indicate coach Danny Ainge’s thinking. That first round/semifinal cap doesn’t cut it anymore. Change was on its way and it’s coming, in a batch of draft picks that only OKC’s always-on Sam Presti has surpassed.
Ainge has done this once before, rounding up the shots in Boston by trading aging Celtics icons Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn. He’s also using Timberwolves – again – to fix his franchise, although in a mirrored version of the original Garnett trade in 2007.
He’s the only one doing this heist with his longtime buddy Kevin McHale who left that front office in Minnesota.
5. The crucial question: How much better have wolves become?
There is no point in calculating Utah’s total victory as a result of this deal – and that’s what Jazz is looking for now. But wolves clearly think this is the next step in their timeline. In April, they were knocked out of the Western Conference playoff for a first-round match with Memphis, the team’s second-best chance of seven since 2004. Truth be told, they probably should have beat the Grizzlies, if not for their inexperience in juggling their game ends. nearby.
With Connelly in charge, Finch getting his own contract extension and new owners Alex Rodriguez and Marc Laure on the horizon, it’s no time for wolves to retreat into the den of lottery balls. The Minnesota fan base has been eroded by modest ambitions and unrelenting disappointments.
Defense and paint protection was a problem. Wolves ranked 13th in defensive efficiency last season (allowing 111.0 points per 100 possessions) and 16th in rebounding (25 on defensive glass). Joubert helps there. Moving Towns forward opens up his entire arsenal and suggests new and improved opportunities together with Edwards.
But will that suffice at a grueling Western conference? Warriors, Suns, Nuggets, Grizzlies, Clippers, and maybe Mavericks look as good or better than they did, at least on paper. And that’s before counting New Orleans and any change that appears in the Lakers.
Given the price Gobert paid – as opposed to accumulating those assets in pursuit of Dejounte Murray or Deandre Ayton to sign and trade – we’ll wonder if Connelly is getting enough. The great Frenchman probably brought the Western semi-final cap with him.
Steve Ashburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can email him here, find his archive here and Follow him on Twitter.
The opinions expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect those of the National Basketball Association, its clubs, or Turner Broadcasting.