When considering who the first member of the Minnesota Timberwolves roster put up for trade talk might be, most people may think Nik Pekovic or Kevin Martin or even Ricky Rubio. All three could have valid reasons ranging from contracts, success with the team in their current role or just plain out do not fit in with the current plan of the franchise (Pekovic could actually fit in all three categories). Interestingly enough, such was not the case on Wednesday as rumors of forward Shabazz Muhammad being on the move started to circulate.
Often when talks start brewing, they usually have some grain of truth to them, but can quickly get shot down to either save face with the player in question or possibly build up his rep for a bigger package down the road. According to longtime NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski, there have been a number of teams interested in adding the third-year forward to their lineup, but the Wolves aren’t ready to trade Muhammad just yet.
So what does that have to do with Muhammad and his production this year? Well, as a result of the success of the team, Shabazz has once again seen a drop in his stats across the board.
With players like Andrew Wiggins, Tayshaun Prince and Martin all ahead of the former Bruin on the T-Wolves depth chart, it is hard to see how those numbers will increase in Minnesota this year. This is not to say that Muhammad does not have value to either the Timberwolves or any other team in the league.
Prince’s contract comes off the books at the end of this season and Martin follows in the summer of 2017, leaving opportunity for Muhammad to slide into a 6th or 7th man role. The question is, is Minnesota willing to wait that long in order to see how he will produce, or is the team wanting to ride the wave of early success (albeit moderate) and make an attempt at a playoff run this season?
Teams such as the LA Lakers and Brooklyn Nets have expressed interest in adding the 6’6″ SG/SF to their lineup. The Lakers are looking for help anywhere they can get it. And the Nets are looking for a band-aid for their injured lineup and a dismal season of their own.
With depth at the shooting guard/small forward spot, the Wolves may be able to dangle Muhammad as trade bait to convince GM’s to take on Pekovic’s contract. Joe Johnson’s crazy contract expires this summer, leaving a gap at the small forward spot for the Nets. On the flip side, returning home to LA might just be the kick start that Muhammad needs with the Black Mamba hanging up his Nikes after this season. Whether the Timberwolves trade Shabazz Muhammad in the near or distant future, there are teams in the league that are making noise about acquiring his services, something that wasn’t happening a year ago.