Coaches aren’t always the best GMs. See Doc Rivers, who puts no value on first round picks - even trading one for Jeff Green. So when Tom Thibodeau became the Coach/President of Basketball Operations of the promising Minnesota Timberwolves, more than a few eyebrows were raised.
At first it seemed like he would err on the side of successful coach/GM hybrids - a la Stan Van Gundy - by not spending long-term money in a very expensive free agent market. Signing very good backup center Cole Aldrich to a below-market contract was a genius, Brandon Rush was a solid veteran pickup on the minimum, and Jordan Hill signed a relatively small deal. But recently, that perception has flipped. On November 23, Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report reported that Thibs was growing impatient, and may soon trade a young star for a veteran who can help them win now (learn more HERE).
“Tom Thibodeau is not exactly a paragon of patience, which is why league sources expect that he is only a few more losses away from dealing one of his young stars for a veteran who can help him win now. His first look will be for a player he already knows and trusts because he’s already had that player in his system. Would the Lakers consider advancing their youth movement and dealing former Bull Luol Deng? Would the Bulls consider parting with Jimmy Butler or Taj Gibson? Where Thibs looks is not certain, nor is who he’d be willing to move. But those in the league who know his hunger to win and win now are convinced he will begin calling around soon, if he hasn’t already.”–Ric Bucher, Bleacher Report
Luckily, this future dynasty has not yet been broken up yet, but there is new news on the trade front; It concerns uber-athletic shooting guard Zach LaVine. According to Fran Blinebury on NBA.com:
“…But through the first month of the season they have underperformed and word is that Thibs has seen enough to know changes must be made. Truth is, he’d likely be open to trading anybody but Karl-Anthony Towns or Andrew Wiggins in order to bring in a veteran who can stabilize the lineup and teach it lessons. LaVine's crazy athleticism and upside could make him the most likely one to move.”
So the fan-favorite 2-time reigning Dunk Contest Champion may be the most likely to be moved. Any other sources? Well…
“…That leaves LaVine. Would the Wolves move him? Probably, in the right deal.” – Ben Beecken
“Inquisitr reported that Thibodeau is looking at LaVine as his foremost potential trade piece and that the coach is planning to deal him in midseason. LaVine's youth, athleticism, and the upside is reportedly attracting the interest of some teams, but the coach himself is reportedly not impressed by the 21-year-old combo guard.” - Christian Andal
Et Cetera. LaVine rumors are rampant within the league, with “LaVine trade rumors” having 66,300 hits on Google. The third-year shooting guard plays a little defense - an issue for the defense-first Thibodeau- and is quite inconsistent. Yes, he has improved by leaps and bounds since his first year- his WS/48 has improved from -0.018 to .054 to 0.1 this year- a MASSIVE improvement. He has also gone from -1.2 VORP in season 1 to 0.4 this year, a rather large difference. But which teams want him, and could actually trade for him? We’ll go down the list of teams who may be able to trade for the 3rd-year scorer.
1. Philadelphia 76ers
The best player in the Sixers’ backcourt is, by far, Jerryd Bayless. So yes, they need a guard. But veterans? No, Sergio Rodriguez wouldn’t be even close to enough. Maybe Nerlens Noel for defense? But that does seem a bit of a downgrade, and it doesn’t give them that veteran leadership Thibs craves. Maybe, but I cant see Tommy T pulling the trigger on that one.
2. Sacramento Kings
Rudy Gay for Zach LaVine? Zach would be a better fit with Boogie, and the Wolves would get a vet who is a bit better at D. No, this isn’t close to equal value, but if Coach T wants to win now…
3. Chicago Bulls
Thibs was rumored to want Butler or Gibson, and Chicago needs shooting- but Butler is playing the best ball of his life, and Gibson may not be enough. So Gibson for LaVine may not quite be enough- but who knows how attached Thibodeau is?
4. Los Angeles Lakers
Another attachment part - Deng played for Coach T in Chi-Town. However, there ARE rumors that the Wolves offered/ would’ve offered just a little over half of the 4yyr/$72mil contract he signed in LA, so why would he give up assets for a contract he wouldn’t offer himself? Yes, Deng would be a great fit, but as an NBA fan, I really hope that doesn’t happen. But you never know- coach/presidents always seem to be a bit shortsighted.
5. Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic are in desperate need of wings, athleticism, shooting, creation. LaVine? He’s a wing who specializes in shooting, creation, and athleticism. Now, in terms of who would be moved, Serge Ibaka is a veteran defender who would let Karl-Anthony Towns play his natural position (Center). This is actually a quite intriguing trade, and I can actually imagine either side pulling the trigger.
Out of all these options, an Ibaka or Gay trade seems like the best options. The only question is - are they GOOD options?