When D’Angelo Russell was acquired Minnesota Timberwolves On February 7, 2020, the prayers of the Wolves fans were answered. They traded not only for a solid player, but also for a man who will hopefully keep superstar Carl-Anthony Towns in Minneapolis for years to come. So far so good in this department.
Now some are ready to move on. How did we get here?
2021-22: A step forward? Back? To the side? Depends on who you ask
In his seventh season in the NBA he became No. 2 overall NBA Draft 2015 scored an average of 18.1 points per game, which was the lowest figure since the 2017-18 season.
Much has been said about Russell’s inefficiency and / or inconsistent shooting, but his figures this season do not deviate too much from his career averages.
I compiled this table not to say that Russell is a great shooter, but to say that we should not be surprised by his results this season. He is was inconsistent and he never was elite three-point shooter (add 10-20 games to his total of 42 last year and I don’t think he will finish 38.7%) so why could we expect anything other than what he did in the first six seasons?
Because of his contract, Russell adheres to unreasonably high standards. His “value” in dollars is a discussion for another day, but expecting him to play at a level that justifies his salary creates room for significant disappointment. I ask the question (me): what does he need to do to justify his salary? What will “take the next step”?
Repeating its figures 2018-19 and / or 2019-20 (21.1 PPG, 51% eFG and 23.1 PPG, 52% eFG)? He was on teams that had minimal other scoring options, which led to him taking on the load (hence the best number of points).
So now that he’s offended by the other scorer, what can he do to raise it?
Shoot 40% of the three? He is never has done so in his career, making it dangerous to assume he will reach that mark. This is the strongest argument – and I agree that he could / should be a more effective shooter – but it opens the door to disappointment, given that he has scored more than 37% only once in his career (last year) of the three shooters (last year).
Become a middle defender? He is kind of did it this year. Actually did pretty well given his physical limitations.
Become a better passerby? Again, kind of did it this year. He received an average of 7.1 assists per game, despite a sad number of unforced turns.
The argument I’m trying to make is that we expect too much from him. It is unreasonable to expect it to rise to $ 31.2 million. He has no chance of scoring more on this team given the other options.
Shooting more effectively is smart, but that’s unlikely given its past. His choice of shots could of course improve, however. I’m not a fan of the D-Lo half-transition, the top three at the wrong time. You know the ones I’m talking about, we-are-running-but-I’m-going-to-pull-it-with-18-seconds-left-on-a-shot-watch alone.
In addition, to shoot more effectively, he needs to try to get into the cup more often. He doesn’t do that much, but it will bring him to the line more (he’s a good free throw), creates opportunities for the shooter to hit and improves his shooting, forcing defenders to respect the drive.
But to his credit, he has improved in other important areas: distribution and defense.
Are these improvements bringing it down to $ 30 million? No. But he is doing his best to improve it is situation. You can’t ask for more.
Sachin Gupta’s options (or new POBOs): Expand it?
For a player who has completed seven NBA seasons, the player can be paid the maximum amount 30% of the salary (estimated at $ 122 million) or 105% of their salary (will be $ 32.9 million) for the previous season.
Thus, the maximum deal that the Wolves can offer Russell will be extended for four years to about $ 36.6 million per season (~ $ 146 million).
That would be (roughly) a salary in the top 20 in the NBA. Had he signed the deal, he would theoretically be under contract for the next five seasons (perhaps the game will have player or club options).
If the “Wolves” sign Russell on this deal, and give Carl-Anthony Towns his super-maximum extension (the exact amount becomes difficult, so for the time being just know that it a lot), money dries out pretty quickly. With extensions for Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDeniels on the horizon the situation becomes even more complicated.
Russell’s extension would be the final vote of confidence in the eight-year term, which would be rather surprising. I say provided that this extension will be the maximum amount mentioned earlier (I don’t think Russell is taking anything much less than the maximum).
It may take a few hours, but the bottom line is that Ohio the value of the outstanding is as low as it has been for some time.
The Wolves could trade Russell this offseason, which could leave a hole in the playoffs. If Jordan McLaughlin didn’t have those two or three star playoff games, how would we feel about his coming out in a lot big role? I hate to consider hypotheses, and I don’t want to underestimate how well the J-Mac played in these games, but there’s something to think about. Of course, Minnesota is likely to address this position if Russell is bargaining.
Another option is to wait until Russell builds up his value early next season, and then reconsider trading ideas before the end of the term. There must be a lot of teams wanting to change contracts, as Russell’s $ 31 million coming out of books at the end of 2022-23 is a valuable asset.
So what is most likely?
The Wolves could always allow Russell to play the last year of his contract and then reconsider talks about a new deal a year later. The obvious risk of this is that Russell could leave Minneapolis and the Wolves will get nothing in return.
I’m not an expert, but it seems that the Wolves have two real options: overpay for Russell and hope that he will continue on his way to good shape – and be constantly disappointed because he is not able to play at $ 35-40 million – , or swap it for players who address other needs (forward / rim protection / rebound) and worry about playmakers later.
There will be be taken for him and his contract. However, if he changes this offseason or next season, the return may not be as big as the Wolves fans had hoped. With the contract expiring, the teams probably won’t want to give up young assets that are under contract for several seasons.
To be clear: Russell is not a bad player, expectations are just too high. I’m not arguing not to pay him, because in principle you should, but I tie myself to someone like Russell – someone who in his own way absolute the peak is probably not 35-40 million dollars, caliber – there is very restriction.
Ever since he was traded here, Russell has been talking about finding a “home” after moving from team to team in the first five seasons. Fans of “Wolves”, as well as the organization itself showed him a love that was not in previous cities. Gerson Rosas and the city of Minneapolis were waiting, and wanted him to be here for a long time. Obviously, he appreciated the gesture.
He bought a house in Minnesota, creating some sense of home. In years past he rented and packed his bagswaiting for the next call that made him call the carrier.
This mood should not be forgotten during this time, but we are now more than two years from his arrival.
I hope that Russell will be able to appreciate the previous actions of this city, the team and the front office during the potential enlargement talks, and to prove that he really wants to make Minnesota home.