The NBA trade deadline did not disappoint as D’Angelo Russell headlined what was otherwise a quieter trade deadline in years past.
The Golden State Warriors traded the 23-year-old guard to the Minnesota Timberwolves, along with Jacob Evans and Omari Spellman, in exchange for Andrew Wiggins, a 2021 protected first-round pick and 2021 second-round pick, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Russell was arguably the hottest commodity available at the deadline, and it appeared to be a two-team race between the Timberwolves and New York Knicks to land the talented youngster.
Here are the winners and losers of this deal:
The Timberwolves have had their eyes on Russell since July and could not afford to miss out on him again. There were reports on Wednesday that Minnesota was unwilling to part with the necessary pieces to land Russell, and that the Warriors were “moving on,” which would have been a huge blow for the Timberwolves. But they managed to salvage the negotiations and not only get an All-Star caliber point guard to pair with Karl-Anthony Towns, but Russell is close friends with the Timberwolves’ All-Star center, which should keep him happy and give Minnesota the pairing they need to compete in the Western Conference.
Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell
Towns was reportedly beginning to become disgruntled in Minnesota despite being in the first year of his five-year extension. The losing was getting to the former No. 1 overall pick and teams like the Knicks and Warriors began monitoring the situation in case he demanded his way out. Now, Towns and his good friend Russell are paired together in Minnesota where both will likely be happy and can start to turn the culture around.
Wiggins has failed to live up to his potential as a former No. 1 overall pick, and his contract is not doing him any favors, either, but a change of scenery is perhaps what he needs most. While Wiggins will help the Warriors finish tanking the 2019-20 season, he will be joining a starting lineup of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green next year, giving him the chance to play for a contender and possibly be used to his maximum potential around other great players.
Golden State Warriors
Could it be? A trade that works out for both parties? By attaching Spellman and Evans in the deal, the Warriors just cleared salary to add six more minimum contracts to the roster without going over the tax, even taking on Wiggins’ large contract. That in itself is a big victory for Golden State. The 2021 first-round pick they received is also protected to No. 3. So if the Timberwolves do not contend for the playoffs next season even with Russell, the Warriors could be looking at another lottery pick next year inside the top 10 but outside the top three.
Of course, this trade does come with its risks. Wiggins is grossly overpaid and has yet to reach his potential, so if things do not jell it will be interesting to see how Golden State responds. And if Minnesota is a playoff team next year, the 2021 first-round pick becomes slightly less attractive.
New York Knicks
Somehow, the Knicks always find their way into the loser category, but missing out on Russell is not necessarily why they are here. In fact, it is probably better they did not pursue the 23-year-old guard. So why are they losers? Well, with Russell going to Minnesota to pair up with Towns, it ruins any chance the Knicks may have had at luring Towns to New York. The Knicks were reportedly monitoring the situation as Towns continued to grow frustrated and disillusioned in Minnesota.
With Russell by his side, it should appease Towns and keep him happy, ending any potential threat of a trade following the season, and thus ending any chance the Knicks may have had to be players for such a trade.