In a swap of high scorers, the Minnesota Timberwolves acquired D’Angelo Russell on Thursday from the Golden State Warriors for Andrew Wiggins, according to a person with knowledge of the trade.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal had yet to be finalized by the NBA with a few hours remaining before the deadline. ESPN first reported the trade, which also includes additional players and draft picks.
Russell had been on Minnesota’s radar for months, a dynamic point guard in his fifth season in the league after going as the second overall pick in the 2015 draft.
The first choice that year was Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, a friend of Russell around whom the front office has been trying to rebuild the roster. Minnesota will be Russell’s fourth NBA team. He averaged 23.6 points per game for the injury-wrecked Warriors, a career high after coming in an offseason trade with Brooklyn.
The Wolves tried to woo him then, too, but Russell instead steered that sign-and-trade swap toward the Warriors, the five-time defending Western Conference champions who’ve won three NBA titles during that span. The 6-foot-4 Russell is playing the first season of a four-year, $117 million contract.
Wiggins, the first overall selection in the 2014 draft, never fulfilled his potential with the Wolves, a shooting and slashing wing with the athleticism and frame to dominate on the perimeter. He is averaging 22.4 points this season, an uptick from the past two years but still capped by a pattern of inconsistency. He’s been a defensive liability, too, for a team that has persistently ranked among the easiest to score against in the league. The 6-foot-7 Wiggins is in the second season of a five-year, $147 million deal.
The Timberwolves, who have lost 12 straight games, have bottomed out in their first year under president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas as he attempts to remake the roster for a faster-paced, 3-point-heavy offense as directed by rookie coach Ryan Saunders.
Rosas engineered Minnesota’s involvement in a four-team trade finalized on Wednesday that saw five players depart, including defensive ace Robert Covington, and a first-round draft pick arriving. Russell is not a strong defender, but his passing and shooting ability ought to fit well with Towns on a team that has lacked a true ball distributor at the point since Ricky Rubio was dealt three years ago.
Towns was close to Covington, who came to Minnesota last season from Philadelphia in the deal that sent Jimmy Butler to the 76ers. After the Wolves lost to Atlanta on Wednesday, Towns was as sullen as ever.
”You obviously see my patience running low with a lot of things,” Towns said. ”There’s no excuses.”
The Warriors are the only team below the Wolves in the West this season, with stars Steph Curry and Klay Thompson on the mend. The Warriors also struck a lower-profile deal before the deadline, sending Glenn Robinson and Alec Burks to Philadelphia for draft picks.
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