The Minnesota Timerwolves finished second-last in the Western Conference of the NBA with a dismal record of 19-45. This means that the franchise has only made one playoff appearance in the last 16 years. While they have an All-NBA level player in Karl-Anthony Towns and a former All-Star in D'Angelo Russell, they are still nowhere close to contending for a championship. However, gargantuan NBA trade rumors have been floating around ever since the Minnesota Timberwolves won the lottery to receive the first overall pick in the 2020 draft.
It is believed that the Minnesota Timberwolves would be willing to trade their pick away for a star that helps Karl-Anthony Towns and co. win games straightaway. While big names like Ben Simmons have been mentioned, it is unlikely they will land someone of that caliber.
This year's draft class isn't stacked with other-worldly talent, and there aren't any players who are clearly head and shoulders above the competition. As a result, trading away the pick for a star is a bit of a stretch. The best option in this case would be to trade down.
NBA Trade Rumors: Minnesota Timberwolves and Chicago Bulls could exchange picks
The Minnesota Timberwolves have an excellent guard in D'Angelo Russell and an even better center in Karl-Anthony Towns. However, since the departure of Robert Covington to the Houston Rockets, the wing positions have been an area of deep concern.
Gorgui Dieng has also left the team in a trade that replaced him with James Johnson. Juan Hernangomez has played extremely well since joining from the Denver Nuggets, but the forward position could certainly do with some more quality.
Elsewhere, the Chicago Bulls themselves would be feeling pretty happy at having jumped up the lottery to receive the 4th overall pick. Much like the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Chicago Bulls are also struggling to return to their glory days.
They do have a few exciting pieces to rebuild around including Zach LaVine. However, one player they would be concerned about is Lauri Markkanen - who was originally picked by the Timberwolves before being traded to the Bulls in a package that got them Jimmy Butler.
The Finnish power forward looked destined to become one of the stars in the NBA, but just endured a tragic campaign in which nothing went right for him. It could be best for all involved if Markkanen returned to where he came from.
Lauri Markkanen career stats
Career points per game - 16.1
Career assists per game - 1.3
Career rebounds per game - 7.6
Career field goal % - 43.0%
Career 3pt % - 35.6%
The 7'0" tall Lauri Markkanen was one of the best rookies of the 2017 draft class. He averaged above 15 points per game in his debut season, which earned him a spot in the NBA All-Rookie team.
Markkanen showed great versatility as a scorer early in his NBA career. He could shoot the three-ball at a respectable rate and also post up quite well. He wasn't a skilled defender, but made up for it on the offensive end.
However, after enjoying a very decent sophomore year, the 23-year-old is in the middle of a horrible run of form where he just doesn't seem to connect on his shots. One could blame his struggles on former coach Jim Boylen's tactics, but the problem could be rooted deeper than it seems.
Markkanen is still very young and one would be foolish to write him off already. The Minnesota Timberwolves need to take a chance on a player they once drafted themselves. If it works out, the Minnesota Timberwolves will finally have a third star-level player and could fight for a spot in the NBA Playoffs.
NBA Trade Rumors: How do the salaries work in the Minnesota Timberwolves' quest for Lauri Markkanen?
To make the deal happen, the Minnesota Timberwolves will have to part with their first overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, and exchange it for the Chicago Bulls' 4th overall pick.
In compensation, the Chicago Bulls send Lauri Markkanen back to the team that drafted him. The Minnesota Timberwolves could send back James Johnson's undesirable contract, but not before the Bulls have fed them back Cristiano Felicio.
Overall, it is a fair trade for everyone involved, as the Chicago Bulls could potentially draft a star who changes the fortunes of the franchise. The Minnesota Timberwolves, on the other hand, get a player who has already proven that he could be one of the league's finest in the future if he can resurrect his form.
Published 17 Sep 2020, 04:00 IST