Each week during the 2022-23 NBA season, we will take a deeper dive into some of the league’s biggest storylines in an attempt to determine whether the trends are based more in fact or fiction moving forward.
The Rudy Gobert trade is an abject disaster
When the Minnesota Timberwolves offered to double Tim Connelly’s salary and give him an undisclosed equity stake if he switched teams as the lead basketball executive, Denver Nuggets governor Josh Kroenke described their Northwest Division rival’s pursuit as the “desperate” move of a team acting like “a startup.”
Little did he know just how desperate incoming Timberwolves owners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez were.
A month into the job, Connelly traded three players from a 46-win playoff rotation and seven first-round draft picks this decade — Leandro Bolmaro (2020), Walker Kessler (2022), unprotected picks in 2023, 2025 and 2027, a top-five protected pick in 2029 and a 2026 swap — to the Utah Jazz for three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. The price shocked rival executives and Minnesota’s own players.
As Wolves veteran Taurean Prince put it , according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, “It wasn’t that it put us in a bad mood, but, uh, we were surprised.” Not exactly the endorsement you want to hear when you just bet the long-term future of your franchise on a guy you think can deliver a championship in the next four years.
The first 15 games of this season have offered no indication that pundits who widely panned the deal were misguided. The Wolves are average or worse in every way imaginable, and their most glaring weaknesses are exactly the issues they should have been worried about when paying a king’s ransom for a 30-year-old center who logged one playoff series victory in the last four years, despite winning 50 games every season.
Presumably, Minnesota acquired Gobert to improve last season’s 13th-rated defense and create more offensive space than he crowds with his screen-setting and rim-running. Only,…