Chris Szagola/Associated Press
D’Angelo Russell’s time in Golden State was short-lived.
The Warriors traded the star guard to Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday in exchange for Andrew Wiggins, a 2021 protected first-round pick and a 2021 second-round pick, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Jacob Evans and Omari Spellman will also head to Minnesota as part of the blockbuster deal.
Adrian Wojnarowski@wojespnTimberwolves 2021 pick protected to No. 3, and becomes unprotected in 2022, per sources. Minnesota kept pushing for Russell, who it has wanted since summer free agency and finally got the point guard Gerssson Rosas imagined pairing with KAT. https://t.co/kfDNvsdBHX
Bobby Marks of ESPN broke down the salary implications of the move for the Warriors:
Bobby Marks@BobbyMarks42Finances in Golden St.
Andrew Wiggins under contract thru 2022/23: $27.5, 29.5, $31.6 and $33.6
GSW is $3.1M below the tax.
Despite 6 open roster spots, GSW can stay below the tax by signing 5 minimum players. Will need to stagger the signings.
Anthony Slater of The Athletic added that the Warriors “are in line to duck the luxury tax … freeing them from a large financial burden.”
The Warriors acquired Russell, 23, in a sign-and-trade with the Brooklyn Nets this offseason, shocking the NBA world. The Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers were expected to be his primary suitors.
There were questions about how Russell and Steph Curry would coexist on both ends of the floor, especially defensively, as neither player is stout on that end.
Offensively, the Warriors figured to work more pick-and-rolls into their scheme to highlight Russell’s strengths, while Curry would be asked to play off the ball a bit more as well, which didn’t seem like a stretch given his effectiveness as a shooter coming off screens.
With Klay Thompson recovering from an ACL tear and Kevin Durant now in Brooklyn, the Warriors had to make the Russell-Curry partnership work. Those plans hit a snag, however, when Curry broke his left hand in late October.
While Russell averaged 23.6 points and 6.2 assists with the Warriors, shooting 43.0 percent from the field and 37.4 from three, he was always a candidate to be traded ahead of the deadline for a more natural fit as the Warriors attempt to restock for a playoff run next season.
Marc Stein of the New York Times went so far as to say over the summer that a Russell trade was inevitable at some point this season:
Andrew Perloff@andrewperloff”De’Angelo Russell does not fit there whatsoever. They just did not want to see Kevin Durant walk out the door with no compensation. … They will trade him. It’s just a matter of when.” – @TheSteinLine on @dpshow
He now heads to his third team in the past year, where he’ll bring his scoring and playmaking out of the pick-and-roll. Russell was never a natural fit in Golden State. A change of scenery should benefit both sides.
Meanwhile, Minnesota finally gets its man. The Wolves were in hot pursuit of Russell in free agency, hoping to pair him with Karl-Anthony Towns to create a dynamic inside-outside duo, only to see Russell shockingly land on the Warriors instead.
But the T-Wolves have him now, making them an intriguing team to watch for one of the final playoff spots in the West. It’s a long shot given the hole they dug themselves into, but the combination of Russell and Towns should create headaches for opposing defenses.
Chris Szagola/Associated Press