Wolfson: Don't be surprised if the Timberwolves trade for Pau Gasol
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Before Rick Adelman accepted a three-year contract worth $15 million to coach the Wolves, he tried to sell Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak on his "corner" offense. The central theme was that one of the best passing big men in the league, Pau Gasol, could've made the easy transition from Phil Jackson's triangle offense.
The Lakers did ultimately pick a coach who runs a version of that offense, but his name is Mike Brown.
Adelman -- because the money is great, the young core has potential and he has two of his sons, R.J. and David, on his staff -- later said yes to owner Glen Taylor's offer.
But he still might get his chance to feature Gasol.
Last June, well before Adelman was hired, Wolves president of basketball operations David Kahn engaged the Lakers in trade talks according to someone with direct knowledge. At one point a member of the Wolves' front office thought a deal was done.
In a recent conversation with owner Glen Taylor, Taylor kept stressing Adelman's small window to win, realizing he will be 66 years old on June 16. He realistically won't coach beyond his contract unless they're on the cusp of something special. That combined with Kahn's one-year contract has me believing a giant short-term move is coming this summer.
Maybe it'll be for Houston's Kevin Martin, Paul Pierce if Boston decides to rebuild, or someone of that ilk, but Gasol makes as much sense as anyone.
With the Lakers' luxury tax concerns, a possible rift with Kobe Bryant, previous trade rumors -- including one completed deal that would've brought Chris Paul to L.A. but was later voided -- and a presumed interest in signing free-agent Kevin Garnett, Gasol is going somewhere. The Rockets have long admired him and could make a play. So could a few other teams. But expect the Wolves to be in the mix.
Gasol would instantly bring a championship pedigree, an ability to stretch a defense, a passing skill set that would make teammates better and some intimidation at the rim -- an area Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic don't excel in. There are plenty of ways to divide up minutes among the three. Whether it's Gasol or someone else, a capable big is a must-add this offseason.
As are two wings. Gasol would limit Kahn's flexibility, but the Wolves still potentially would have a mid-level exception to work with depending on if they're right at the salary cap. The Wolves could also potentially still have the No. 18 pick in a deep draft to dangle in a trade or use, and they could utilize other assets that other teams may covet.
A safe assumption is that Wiliams once again would be the feature in any Gasol deal. But whether it's Luke Ridnour, J.J. Barea, Darko Milicic's expiring contract, a future first round pick, or maybe even Wesley Johnson, other moves could be made.
Gasol has two years remaining on his contract, which does contain a trade kicker, but because he's at his maximum salary the raise would be minimal.
If curious whether the Wolves can even pull off a Gasol trade, the simple answer is yes. They are in a position, assuming they non-tender Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph, to take back more in a trade than they send out by approximately $5 million according to ESPN salary cap expert Larry Coon.
The Wolves have the longest playoff drought in the NBA at eight seasons. It's a sad one when over 50 percent of the conference (8 out of 15) makes the playoffs. Some mega-move is coming before the season starts to ensure that streak comes to an end. Gasol is as good a bet as anyone.