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Are Timberwolves regretting the Rudy Gobert trade?

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Rudy Gobert on playing for Timberwolves - 'I'm really happy here"
USA Today Network

In July, the Utah Jazz traded Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Leandro Bolmaro, Walker Kessler, Jarred Vanderbilt, and five first-round draft picks. They essentially gambled their future on one defensive juggernaut.

Last season with the Jazz, the three-time All-Star averaged career highs of 14.7 rebounds per game and 71.3% shooting from the field in 66 starts. Timberwolves G.M. Tim Connelly traded for Gobert to improve rim protection and defensive rebounds.

Per a few NBA betting sites, the Timberwolves possess the 18th-best odds to win the championship in 2023. Check out which sportsbooks are giving Rudy Gobert the ninth-best odds to win Defensive Player of the Year this season.

Equally important, Gobert signed a five-year, $205 million contract with the Jazz in December 2020. He is making $38,172,414 this season, $41 million in the 2023-24 season, $43,827,586 in the 2024-25 season, and has a $46,655,172 player option in the final year of his deal.

His salary this season consumes 21.36% of Minnesota’s total salary cap. Also, Karl-Anthony Towns is earning $33,833,400 right now as well. Towns’ salary represents 18.93% of the cap. Towns is guaranteed $294,073,600, whereas Gobert’s guaranteed amount is $169,655,174.

Both players are slowly becoming liabilities, not assets. On Monday, in the Timberwolves’ 113-110 loss to the Miami Heat, Gobert was benched in the fourth quarter after recording a team-worst -14. Minnesota coach Chris Finch chose Naz Reid to close out the game. Reid was +15 in 29 minutes compared to Gobert’s -14 in 31 minutes played.

Are Timberwolves suffering buyer’s remorse after trading away five players, first-round draft picks for Rudy Gobert?

While Towns is not struggling as much as Gobert, the three-time All-Star is averaging 20.8 points per game, the lowest since his rookie 2015-16 season. Not to mention, the center is logging a career-low 8.2 rebounds per contest. Towns’ right calf strain is a logical excuse for missing games and underperforming.

Nonetheless, this team has low morale, which stems from leadership. That’s the bottom line. Through 29 starts this season, Gobert is averaging 13.9 points, 12.1 boards, and 1.2 blocks per game.

To add to these statistics, he’s shooting 66.4% from the floor and 67.9% at the foul line. While these stats are not horrible to the untrained eye, Jazz fans would still be disappointed in the 10-year veteran if he was playing like this with Utah.

At the moment, a number of Timberwolves fans feel robbed, frustrated, and bamboozled. Gobert ranks third in total rebounds (351), second in boards per game, seventh in offensive rebounds (105), eighth in defensive boards (246), ninth in offensive rating (129.8), and seventh in defensive rebound percentage (28.9%).

His offensive rating just last season ranked second overall (137.4). After leading the NBA in defensive rebound percentage (36.3%) with the Jazz in his final year, Gobert is now no longer in the league’s top five with Minnesota.

Additionally, based on what Connelly and Finch gave up to acquire the three-time Defensive Player of the Year, a casual fan would have guessed this trade was for LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and/or Luka Doncic.

Now, Minnesota is without its 2023, 2025, 2026, 2027, and 2029 first-round picks. If the Timberwolves remain sloppy in the second half of the season, this deal will go down in history as being one of the worst of all time.

James is a Basketball Insiders contributor. He earned his bachelor's degree in English and Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University. James enjoys watching sports and helping gamblers win money.

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