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Updated: March 14th, 2012 3:02pm
Wessel: Rubio's injury shouldn't change Wolves' approach at deadline

Wessel: Rubio's injury shouldn't change Wolves' approach at deadline

by
1500ESPN.com

Ricky Rubio's knee injury changed the tone of the season for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Not having Rubio for the rest of the season changed the style of play for the Wolves, their expectations for their first season returning to relevance and -- at least temporarily -- the mood of a once-jovial locker room.

One thing it shouldn't change, however, is the team's plan heading into Thursday's trade deadline.

With a healthy, playmaking Rubio and the Wolves firmly on track to make the playoffs, I believed their best move was to stand pat and not be tempted to make any moves that could push them over the playoff hump this season while also hurting their future.

The Wolves were overachieving with Rubio. Nobody, including the Wolves themselves, really predicted they'd be in the playoff picture this soon.

If you can get a cheap Rubio replacement, of course you go for it, but those deals aren't growing on trees.

Ramon Sessions of the Cleveland Cavalaiers is available, but now isn't the time to get into a bidding war -- there are at least two other teams reportedly interested -- over a backup point guard this franchise once jettisoned in the trade that brought Sebastian Telfair and Delonte West to Minnesota.

The Wolves may make a small move or help facilitate a larger deal much like last season, when they received Anthony Randolph in exchange for helping the popular kids complete their Carmelo Anthony trade.

In short, just don't expect a deal involving the Wolves that will cause you to spit out your beverage when you read about it on Twitter.

Without Rubio, it is even more crucial the Wolves remain mainly spectators during what is turning out to be a particularly quiet trade deadline a half-season into the new collective bargaining agreement.

Sure, David Kahn has some movable pieces to make the cutesy, lateral moves he loves to make. Michael Beasley, Randolph and their $8 million and $4 million qualifying offers, respectively, won't be back next season. So, now is the time to ship them if you are going to get anything for them.

But Randolph has about as much trade value as a new shower head for the locker room. And Beasley has shown he can be a scorer off the bench when he wants to be and is more valuable to this team sneaking into the playoffs than whatever the Wolves could get in return for him.

The Wolves are without a first-round draft pick this summer (unless the Utah Jazz pull off a miracle and get into the playoffs) and there is the notion that shipping Beasley for a first rounder -- any first rounder -- would be worth it.

Why? Give up your only bench scorer so the guy who drafted Wesley Johnson and Jonny Flynn in the top six of the draft can have a pick in the mid-to-late 20s?

Seems worthless, especially when this roster already has three rookies and two second-year guys.
The future is bright for the Wolves. Not making the playoffs this season would sting the franchise temporarily but they have waited this long. No sense making a potential future-hurting, cap space-clogging move -- like the rumored deal for Jason Richardson -- to help out in the dogfight that is the last few spots in the Western Conference

Remember, Kahn's contract is up after this season and it isn't clear he will be back next. He must know his odds of being back are greatly improved if the team makes the playoffs. Fans better hope his trigger finger doesn't get even itchier than normal.

The best move for the Wolves is to load up with what they have and make a push for the postseason, be active in the summer now that this is an attractive destination for free agents and hope Kahn is right that Rubio can be ready at the start of next season.

What's one more season if it means keeping all your young pieces and rebuilding model in place for what has always been the ultimate goal -- competing for an NBA championship rather than just the opportunity to sneak into the playoffs?

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