Timberwolves trade for all-star center Rudy Gobert

Minnesota acquired three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert from Utah in exchange for four first-round picks in 2023, 2025, 2027 and 2029, along with Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Leandro Bolmaro and Walker Kessler

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The Timberwolves made a very big move Friday, acquiring a very big man. Entering an era in which they’re rooted for the long term with two all-star level players in Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards, Minnesota has pushed its chips to the center of the table to start contending at a championship level as soon as next season

Minnesota acquired three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert from Utah in exchange for four first-round picks in 2023, 2025, 2027 and 2029, along with Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Leandro Bolmaro and Walker Kessler, a source confirmed to the Pioneer Press. ESPN was the first to report the deal.

That is, indeed, a lot to give up for any one player.

But Gobert has the stature that demands that type of haul. He is, put simply, a game changer. One that doesn’t get the credit for being as much because of the end of the floor on which he shines.

The 7-foot-1 center is a three-time all-star and three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year. He is the best defensive player in basketball by nearly every metric. There is a strong argument that the only reason he didn’t win Defensive Player of the Year this season was due to voter fatigue.


Gobert is consistently one of the most impactful regular-season players by most metrics. He is the primary reason Utah finished in the top five in the Western conference seemingly every season, including being the best player on a Jazz team that finished with the league’s best regular season record during the 2020-21 campaign.

Utah allowed just 104.5 points per 100 possessions defensively last season with Gobert on the floor. That number spiked to 112.3 when he was on the bench. The offensive numbers were nearly identical when he was on the court or off.

The move sets up Minnesota with a pair of “Twin Towers” in Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns, who were previously considered two of the league’s top four centers, and now will play alongside one another with Towns moving over to power forward.

Minnesota now touts a probable starting lineup of Gobert, Towns and Edwards — three potential top-25 players — D’Angelo Russell and Jaden McDaniels.

The Timberwolves expressed a clear desire to go big this offseason to satisfy their rebounding issues and alleviate interior defensive pressure off Towns, who was often plagued by foul trouble amid his best efforts to handle opposing bigs and protect the rim. With that plan in mind, Minnesota identified Gobert as the clear best fit.

Doubling Towns becomes increasingly more difficult when someone with Gobert’s rim finishing and offensive rebounding acumen is waiting in the opposite dunker spot. And perhaps Towns will now lean even further to his perimeter play on the offensive end.

Few teams possess the quality wing depth to where Towns having to defend on the perimeter would be a glaring issue. Sure, there is the potential for Gobert to limit Minnesota’s ceiling at a certain point in the future, but he also would undoubtedly raise the team’s current floor.

Timberwolves basketball boss Tim Connelly repeatedly has stated his goal for this team to become a first-round home-court playoff advantage team — which means finishing in the top four in the West in the regular season. Acquiring Gobert would move Minnesota much closer to that goal much earlier in Anthony Edwards’ career. That would be a win for the Timberwolves.


And if coach Chris Finch cracks the riddle that is defending with bigs in the postseason, maybe Minnesota actually could make a run into May for the first time in 19 years.

Gobert will just have turned 34 years old by the end of his current contract. For reference, Marc Gasol was 34 years old when he served as a key catalyst to Toronto’s title run in 2019. Defensive centers age fairly well.

As for the salary cap space, it’s always a great concept to have the money to sign big names, but as history has shown, it’s another thing to actually be able to do it. Many elite players are drawn to the coasts when given the opportunity to sign wherever they want. For the Timberwolves, acquiring a max player most likely was always most likely to occur through a trade.

Minnesota saw an opportunity to land a max-level talent, and Connelly and Co. pulled the trigger. It was exactly the type of aggressive maneuver Timberwolves’ stakeholder Marc Lore craves. Because of it, Minnesota is in a position where it might win big in the comings years.

Or it might fall short of expectations and the Wolves could lament all of their lost future assets they touted at the start of the offseason.

Such is the risk with these types of all-in gambles teams in Minnesota’s position often must take if it wants to contend at a high level.

The payoff will be determined in the years to come.


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