The NBA offseason has been like a reality TV show. Every week you tune in and something new and dramatic happens. First, there was the Kristaps Porzingis trade rumors saga that led up to the draft, which eventually resulted in Phil Jackson resigning from his position with the Knicks. Next, on draft night Jimmy Butler gets moved to Minnesota to reunite with his former coach Tom Thibodeau. There was then that crazy episode were the Pacers shipped Paul George to OKC and only managed to receive Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis in return. Who could forget Cavs owner Dan Gilbert voting then GM David Griffin off the proverbial island? Now enter our current episode. Kyrie Irving wants out of Cleveland.
Irving no longer wants to play with LeBron James and wants to be the focal point for another team. A short-list of teams that Irving wanted to be moved to surfaced. On that list, the Spurs were deemed his preferred destination, with the Heat, Knicks and Timberwolves as the other teams he would be willing to play for.
If we’re looking at just those four teams, only the Wolves can offer enough to acquire Irving’s services from the Cavs. A package made up of Andrew Wiggins and the Thunder’s 2018-first round pick (Ricky Rubio trade) is probably the most enticing thing the Wolves could offer the Cavs. Would the Wolves be willing to part with Wiggins? Who knows, but I’m sure it’s definitely something the Wolves front office is currently is mulling over considering Thibodeau is a big fan of Irving.
He’s also a big fan of Irving. But yes, Glen Taylor told me they told Chicago very early that Wiggins was off-limits.
— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) July 23, 2017
Wiggins is a fan favorite in Minnesota and rightfully so. The 22-year old is coming off his third and best season as a pro and averaged 23.6 points, 4 rebounds, 2.3 assists per game while shooting 45.2% from the field and 35.6% from beyond the arc. With all the athleticism in the world, Wolves fans have been drooling over his potential and what he could eventually be one day.
However, for the last 13 years, that’s all the Wolves ownership and front office has been selling to the fans — potential. While it’s easy to image what a player could be based on their potential, fans imaginations often get the best of them and they tend build up a player in their minds to eventually be one of the best players in the game at the time. With a nickname like “Maple Jordan” it’s easy for Wolves fans to envision that Wiggins could be a dominant wing player like Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant.
I got bad news Wolves fans. Most players don’t reach their full potential. Wiggins likely won’t be the next Jordan, Kobe or Kevin Durant. Which is why Irving’s interest in playing for Minnesota is so intriguing.
Already an established star in the league at only 25-years old, Irving is now entering his prime. Most Wolves fans will tell you that a backcourt featuring Jeff Teague at point guard and Irving at shooting guard would be a disaster defensively, and they’re likely right. But Irving is more of a shooting guard than he is a point guard and offers something the Wolves desperately need. A knockdown three-point shooter who knows what it takes to win an NBA championship.
Adding Irving would also do more than just filling in a missing need on the Wolves roster. He would also change the perception of the Wolves league wide amongst the players.
The Wolves are historically one of the worst franchises in NBA. Free agents often overlook Minnesota because of this fact, and even when the Wolves have been relevant in the NBA, they’ve often had to overpay players to get them to come here — or as it’s known in Minnesota, the Wolves have to pay the “Tundra Tax” to sign free agents. Adding Irving to the roster would likely force free agents to take the Wolves more seriously and think of them as contenders. Veteran players could look at the situation in Minnesota as one that gives them a chance to compete for a championship and would possibly take less money to play there.
Change can be hard, but the Wolves are on the cusp of truly being a team that could contend for an NBA championship if they play their cards right. Players like Irving don’t ever say they want to play in Minnesota. The iron is hot, it’s time to strike, Timberwolves.