There's a bottleneck forming ahead of Thursday's NBA trade deadline, and the Warriors reportedly are at the center of it.
Teams around the league are inquiring with one another in an effort to boost their rosters for the playoff push. Golden State definitely isn't headed to the postseason, but one or more of its players might be. D'Angelo Russell has performed even better this season than he did last year as an All-Star with the Brooklyn Nets, and he reportedly is in high demand.
The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor reported Monday night that the Minnesota Timberwolves remain intent on acquiring Russell from the Warriors to pair with big man Karl-Anthony Towns. To do so, however, they must first acquire more assets than what they currently have in their arsenal to be able to convince Golden State to depart with its most valuable trade chip.
With that in mind, O'Connor reported that the Timberwolves recently engaged in discussions with the Houston Rockets and Atlanta Hawks on a three-team trade that would have sent Robert Covington from Minnesota to Houston, Clint Capela from Houston to Atlanta, and the Brooklyn Nets' 2020 first-round pick to Minnesota via Atlanta. With that framework set up, the Timberwolves reportedly offered their own 2020 first-round pick along with the Nets' pick to the Warriors in exchange for Russell, but Golden State declined.
So, back to the drawing board for Minnesota.
The Timberwolves reportedly have been asking for two first-round picks in exchange for Covington, and according to O'Connor, that has everything to do with their pursuit of Russell. It's possible Golden State would also be interested in a package including one first-rounder and a young player, and as O'Connor summarized, "there’s a deal to be made for Russell if the Wolves can come up with enough assets and don’t protect their own first-round pick."
According to O'Connor, the Timberwolves prefer to acquire Russell ahead of Thursday's noon deadline, but he notes that the Warriors could have more suitors if they choose to wait until the offseason or beyond to trade him, which could drive up the price. Golden State has yet to see Russell play alongside Stephen Curry and/or Klay Thompson for an extended period, and retaining Russell beyond the deadline might allow for a better examination of one or both of those pairings.
As a 23-year-old, Russell is averaging 23.8 points and 6.3 assists per game on 43.3 percent shooting from the field and 38.3 percent from beyond the arc -- on 9.8 3-point attempts per contest. Throughout NBA history, only two other guards have averaged at least 23 points and nine 3-point attempts per game while shooting over 37 percent from deep: Curry and Damian Lillard.
Regardless of when the Warriors do trade Russell, you can expect them to get a major haul in return.
Programming Note: The "2020 NBA Trade Deadline Show" is coming your way this Thursday at 11:30am on the MyTeams app and on NBCSportsBayArea.com! Our NBA Insiders will analyze all of the news and rumors that could impact the Warriors heading into the Noon deadline. Don’t miss it!