When rumors and reports swirled that All-NBA center Rudy Gobert was potentially on the trade market, numerous teams emerged as logical fits, such as the Chicago Bulls and Dallas Mavericks. The Minnesota Timberwolves, headlined by their own All-NBA center in Karl-Anthony Towns, were not generally considered among those teams.
Yet in late June, Minnesota dealt Patrick Beverley, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Leandro Bolmaro, Walker Kessler, four first-round picks, and a pick swap in exchange for Gobert, which caught much of the league by surprise, including Timberwolves players themselves. According to a report from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, who said he spoke with various members of the team, some Timberwolves players were “shocked” that the trade occurred.
“They had a euphoria about the season, winning that play-in opportunity, getting to the Memphis series and battling with the Grizzlies,” Windhorst said on Friday’s episode of The Hoop Collective podcast. “They were assuming they were going to run it back. And the team had extended [Beverley], and Beverley was beloved on that roster. The players were kind of stunned. But as I pointed out, Rudy Gobert is pretty good, with all due respect to the guys they traded.”
Tall-ball has increased in popularity recently, thanks to teams like the 2018-19 Toronto Raptors and current iteration of the Milwaukee Bucks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics. But a pair of All-NBA centers being the foundation of that tall-ball approach is unique, at least over the past few seasons. It’s an atypical team-building strategy, albeit a fascinating idea and one that many within Minnesota’s organization didn’t foresee materializing.