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Sixth straight loss leads to players’ only meeting, maybe rotation changes with Timberwolves

Minnesota Timberwolves v New Orleans Pelicans

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 28: The Minnesota Timberwolves look on during the game against the New Orleans Pelicans on December 28, 2022 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

This summer the Timberwolves warped the trade market by giving up five players and four first-round picks for Rudy Gobert, pairing him with Karl-Anthony Towns in a system that was going big while the rest of the league went small, a system that was going to take this team forward into the playoffs.

On New Year’s Eve, Minnesota got handled by a Detroit team leaning into its bench, 116-104 — that’s six straight losses and 9-of-12 for the Timberwolves, and they are 6-10 since Towns went out injured.

That led to several things, including a players-only meeting after the game.

However, the most interesting postgame quote came when Naz Reid asked if it was a mystery why the team was underachieving, via Jon Krawczynsk at The Athletic.

“Not really. We know. We know. We know why,” he said after a players-only meeting. “And you know, I’m gonna kind of keep that in house. But we know why. That’s why I said before, I feel like we can change this. We know we can change it. So we just got to buy into the things that we know.”

Okay then.

Coach Chris Finch — who has preached the same message all season but not gotten buy-in yet — said it might be time for some changes to the rotation.

It’s not just one thing that’s gone wrong for the Timberwolves, it’s been Gobert taking a step back and looking tentative on defense, D’Angelo Russell being inconsistent and not being the floor general they need on offense, and then there are the fit issues everyone wondered about going back to the Gobert trade. All that said, this is a decent team when KAT has played, injuries are part of it.

The Timberwolves front office didn’t send out that massive haul of picks and players to Utah last summer to be decent when everyone is healthy. That front office is not blameless, their apparent miscalculation on how this would all fit together is at the heart of the issues as well, and with a 30-year-old Gobert having three years left on his max contract it’s not like the solution is a trade. Minnesota needs to figure it out in-house for now.

Getting Towns back will help, but much more work is needed.