The Minnesota Timberwolves are bad. That’s it. Plain and simple. This team is currently tied with the hapless Knicks for the worst record in the NBA with just two games to go in the season. Obviously, the Timberwolves do not have much left to play for this season. That doesn’t mean that these games don’t mean something for the players. In a lot of ways, this is a tryout to see who might be on the team next year. It also could help the Minnesota front office figure out what to do with some of the veterans on the team. Guys like Ricky Rubio, Nikola Peckovic and Kevin Martin have all had good runs with the team but none of them have really lived up to the money they are paid. With some of the guys they have rising through the ranks, it might be time for the Wolves to start looking elsewhere.
Kevin Martin, Shooting Guard
Kevin Martin has shown the ability to light up the scoreboard and be a great offensive piece for Minnesota. However, with his age and overall ineffectiveness shooting the basketball, his value significantly drops for this rebuilding team. Martin has shot only 42.3 percent from the field this season. He also provides little when it comes to assists and rebounds on a night-to-night basis. The other major concern for Martin is his health. He only has appeared in 38 games this year, marking the fifth time in his career that Martin has been unable to play in more than 51 games. He simply is not a player Minnesota can consistently rely on. He should be moved, maybe in a deal with the next player on this list.
Ricky Rubio, Point Guard
Despite being one of the most promising point guards when he entered the league four years ago, Ricky Rubio has never really been able to convert the potential into talent. Entering his fourth year in the NBA, Rubio showed signs of being ready to take a big step. Instead, he was injured once again and has spent another injury-riddled season mostly on the bench. The Timberwolves are running out of time to wait on him to develop as well. In his only season where he played a full slate of games, Rubio failed to average more than ten points per game and shot a mediocre 38 percent from the field. And then here’s a scary stat, that was a career-high for Rubio when it comes to shooting percentage. Meanwhile, rookie point guard Zach LaVine has caught fire recently. The athletic freak has averaged 19 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds on 44.5 percent shooting over the past 10 games. It looks like Minnesota might already have Rubio’s replacement in house.
Nikola Pekovic, Center
While he might be one of their best offensive assets but with one of the top picks in this year’s draft, the Timberwolves can replace Nikola Pekovic. Through five years in the NBA, Pekovic has never played more than 65 games in one season. He shot a career worst 42.4 percent from the field and his season ended very early due to an Achilles injury. The Wolves also owe Pekovic roughly $12 million each of the next three seasons. That’s a lot to be paying for a player who is not on the court very often. He also saw his scoring drop to the lowest since his rookie year and his rebounding totals dip to the lowest since 2011. Overall, Pek is not really improving at this point in his career. With either Jahlil Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns likely set to wear a Timberwolves jersey next season, Pekovic could be expendable.
Kevin Garnett, Power Forward
Even though he is going to be 39 years old next season, Kevin Garnett provides some value for this young Timberwolves team. He doesn’t do a ton on the court anymore when it comes to converting on the court but when he does play, Garnett has been fairly effective. He is more suited as a sixth man or role player next year but after shooting 58 percent from the floor and providing almost eight points per game in limited minutes since returning to Minnesota, he has made a difference. Plus, his veteran leadership and championship experience are invaluable. Garnett can bring a bit of fire to this team and improve them from a mental aspect. He might not be worth the $12 million price tag he has at the moment, but bringing him back would be a smart move.
The Timberwolves are going to look like a very different team next year pretty much no matter what. Gary Neal and Garnett are set to be free agents and if Chase Budinger opts out this club would have some holes to fix. With what is shaping up to be a fairly strong draft class, trading away some of the veterans for a couple of middle of the order draft picks could be a great way for Minnesota to restart and rebuild.