Sachin Gupta will look for the ‘right move’ as trade deadline approaches
Where Sachin Gupta, the team’s executive vice president of basketball operations, feels fortunate is that, sure, the Timberwolves could make a splash move sometime between now and the Feb. 10 trade deadline
The Timberwolves currently have a young, developing roster that’s full of potential and possibilities. Those teams usually hit a point where they decide it’s time to make a big swing to make a jump up the ladder.
For Phoenix, for example, that move came prior to the 2020-21 campaign, when the Suns traded for Chris Paul. With Minnesota making a massive leap this season to where it’s hovering around .500 and contending for a top-six seed in the Western Conference playoff race, is now the time for the Timberwolves to make the leap?
Ask the general fan, and they’ll tell you there is no bad time to go big-game hunting for the likes of a Ben Simmons or a Myles Turner, but there are many factors that play into that type of aggression.
Where Sachin Gupta, the team’s executive vice president of basketball operations, feels fortunate is that, sure, the Timberwolves could make a splash move sometime between now and the Feb. 10 trade deadline, but they don’t need to.
“It’s not always going to be an exact time. I don’t feel like, at least right now, we have to go one way or another,” Gupta said. “I think we can be patient and just let this team continue to grow.”
Because he feels there still is so much room for growth. That potential has been on display at various points throughout the season. Minnesota plays stretches of games where it looks like a true playoff contender. Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell are just entering their primes, while Anthony Edwards, Jaylen Nowell, Jarred Vanderbilt and Jaden McDaniels are all just scratching their respective surfaces.
“So I don’t think there’s any pressure to (make a move),” Gupta said. “I think, more so, it’s just an open mindedness, being opportunistic, for when an opportunity comes up where there’s an opportunity to convert some of our assets.”
The Timberwolves are “neutral” in their current draft pick situation. They own all of their future firsts.
“We have plenty of assets going forward to take that next step forward if that opportunity arises, so we’ll be always open, looking forward to that opportunity when it comes,” Gupta said. “We’re not feeling pressure to overpay to get something done. Being able to look for the right move.”
Gupta feels good about where the Wolves currently are – squarely in the play-in. He recognizes the opportunity for the team to move into the top six to ensure itself a playoff spot, and the value of doing so. The experience of a full playoff series, at minimum, would do wonders for many of the young players.
That adds to the intrigue of improving the current roster to help Minnesota reach that goal. But Gupta highlighted the various paths to doing that. You can add a player who adds firepower this season, but doesn’t fit the long-term picture, or you can look for a player who does both.
“There’d be more willingness to include assets for the latter than the former,” Gupta said.
And Minnesota remains cognizant of its long-term window. Gupta noted the Wolves still have a lengthy runway and can view things through a five- or six-year scope.
Gupta said there’s alignment in that thinking that extends to the top of the organization. Everyone is excited about the team’s growth and trajectory, and there is a want to increase this season’s playoff probabilities.
“But I think everyone understands the long-term potential here, and no one wants to do anything to damage that,” Gupta said. “I think there are ways to accomplish both, and that’s what we’re trying to do – find ways that help us both in the short term and in the medium-to-long term, where they align with all of our goals.”
Gupta said the team’s success does inspire potential activity, because it’s clear how close Minnesota is to its playoff goals.
“Possibly improve along the edges and improve some of our obvious weaknesses to help us sort of maximize our short-term potential this year and see how high we can get,” Gupta said. “We’ll always be looking for those bigger moves that help us over the long term, but I think in the short term, there are ways I think we can improve around the edges to get us as good of a shot as we can get to keep moving up.”
What exactly are those long-term goals? Gupta doesn’t believe the approach has to be “championship or bust.” He said the Wolves are looking to make incremental steps toward where they want to be. Eventually, yes, that’s to be “championship contenders.”
“But we need to take the right steps and walk before we can run,” Gupta said. “The playoffs, we haven’t been there much in our recent history, and we want to focus on that goal first, and then we’ll go from there.”