Minnesota had high hopes last offseason after acquiring Rudy Gobert. Things haven’t gone according to plan, to say the least.
If the meme of the dog in the burning room saying “This is fine” was a real-life scenario, it would be whatever’s going on in Minnesota right now.
To paint a picture of what happened over the weekend, the Timberwolves found themselves in a must-win situation in order to lock up the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference’s Play-in Tournament. One would think such an instance would bring a team together in the spirit of unity to accomplish a season-long goal, but it’s Minnesota. So let’s get weird.
During the second quarter, cameras picked up prized offseason acquisition Rudy Gobert and point guard Kyle Anderson having an animated discussion in the team huddle. This isn’t atypical in the NBA, but what happened next was. With words being exchanged by both sides, Gobert eventually had enough, using that 7-9 wingspan of his to throw a punch at Anderson. Gobert was pushed back by teammate Taurean Prince — this, too, appeared to have some heat behind it — while Anderson had to be held back to keep the situation from escalating further.
Well, that didn’t work, because they reportedly got into even more in the locker room. The team eventually sent Gobert home after the scuffle and he didn’t play in the rest of the game. Now the team is sitting him in the biggest game of the season against LeBron and the Lakers. (Gobert will be available for either the second play-in game or Game 1 of the first round depending on Tuesday’s result.)
To add insult to injury, rising defensive star Jaden McDaniels was seen punching a wall as he headed toward the locker room after he picked up his second foul ahead of halftime. The result? A reported fractured hand and a seat on the sideline as the team battles to keep its season alive.
Talk. About. Drama.
Now, this still needs to play out, and perhaps the organization with this core of players can figure things out in the coming seasons. But don’t hold your breath.
So, the question needs to be asked: Exactly how one-sided was the Rudy Gobert trade to Minnesota?
The Rudy Gobert Trade
First off, let’s look back at the details of the trade that sent Rudy away from the mountains of Utah and to the lakes of Minnesota.
- Rudy Gobert
- Malik Beasley
- Patrick Beverley
- Leandro Bolarmo
- Walker Kessler
- Jarred Vanderbilt
- 2023 first-round pick
- 2025 first-round pick
- 2026 pick swap
- 2027 first-round pick
- 2029 first-round pick
Siri: Define fleeced.
Look, the trade was questionable at the time given how much the Timberwolves gave up. It looks downright awful now.
Danny Ainge and the Jazz walked away winners of this trade for the picks alone. Those, combined with the picks garnered from the Donovan Mitchell trade (Donny is somewhere in Cleveland smiling), has the franchise set up for years to come. Not to mention that the team got packages in return with players that can actually contribute on the margins or bring back additional picks.
The Jazz may have even got the best player in the deal in Walker Kessler. Consider the following:
|Rudy Gobert||Walker Kessler|
What we’re not going to do is say that a rookie is on the same level as a three-time Defensive Player of the Year. That said, one has to wonder how good Kessler could be moving forward while also offering a similar defensive skill set (with much more potential on the offensive end) to his French counterpart.
Paolo Banchero all but has this year’s Rookie of the Year wrapped up, but Kessler certainly made a legitimate run with his play late in the season. In February, the 7-footer was named the Western Conference Rookie of the Month after posting 10.6 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 3.2 blocks per game.
Again, is he Gobert? No. But the Jazz may have unintentionally found a key member of their core moving forward with this trade, in addition to whoever comes through the million draft picks Utah owns in the coming years.
While the picks and the players are certainly nice ammo to have as an executive, Ainge is probably most happy about getting away from that ridiculous contract the team signed Gobert to ahead of the 2021-22 campaign. Here’s the breakdown:
Total value: $205,000,000
Average annual value: $41,000,000
Free agency: 2026
Annual salary numbers:
2025-26: $46,655,173 (player option)
Getting out of this contract was the best thing Ainge and Co. could do for their organization, especially when you consider Kessler’s rookie status and him not being rookie extension eligible until after the 2024-25 season.
When it comes to the “worst trade ever,” there will be differing opinions. One could point to the Brooklyn Nets sending three first-round picks, and a 2017 pick swap, to Boston (eventually turning into both Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum) for the aging Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry. Or, perhaps as recently as the Lakers sending a slew of players and picks to the Wizards for Russell Westbrook.
But, to say the least, there’s a clear winner and loser in this Gobert-to-Minnesota trade.
Mind you, Minnesota still has an elite player on its hands. At his best in Utah, Gobert single-handedly altered games with his presence in the paint, and perhaps there’s a way Minnesota can salvage this partnership in the remaining seasons of his contract.
But the early returns suggest that this simply isn’t going to work in Minnesota. And considering what it took to get him to the Land of 10,000 Lakes, it might be a while before the drowning T’Wolves can come back up for air.
More NBA Stories:
Breaking down the 10 highest paid coaches in U.S. sports, led by championship winners Bill Belichick, Sean Payton, and Gregg Popovich….
Celebrating the self-care mantra “Love Yourself,” the mismatched black and white pair will also be released throughout Asia and Europe. …