The Warriors and Timberwolves pulled off perhaps the biggest deal of the NBA trade deadline. Minnesota got their man in D’Angelo Russell, who they had been tracking since last summer, while Golden State opted for a better fit in forward Andrew Wiggins. Which team came out with a better future? Ben Golliver and Michael Pina of the Open Floor podcast debate.
(Listen to the latest Open Floor podcast here. The following transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Ben Golliver: I think the D’Angelo Russell vs. Andrew Wiggins trade was kind of juicy. First off, I don’t think any of these guys are really that good. I think I have been one of Russell’s loudest critics over the years and I feel very vindicated because Golden State put together the craziest sign and trade to get him last summer and they went into the full PR defense mechanism of, ‘Oh yeah, we think he can work with Stephen Curry and everything else.’
From the beginning, I was like these guys do not fit. This is not going to work. Once the splash brothers are back together, he is just going to be an ill-fitting piece. He doesn’t address any of their weaknesses. I just feel validated that they were bluffing the whole way.
The trade to Minnesota did wind up coming together basically at the first realistic moment rather than next summer and they get the internet’s least favorite player in Andrew Wiggins—who winds up being the return package for one of my least favorite players in D’Angelo Russell. The whole thing is just poetic, and I actually think Golden State won.
When you look at Wiggins, people are going to write him off as Harrison Barnes 2.0 and that’s fine because Barnes gave them really good minutes before the big playoff meltdown. Wiggins fits really well alongside Steph and Klay. There is no question—if you are looking for a No. 4 option with that group with Steph, Klay and Draymond—Wiggins is a cleaner fit, who accomplishes helpful things in a much more obvious fashion than Russell does.
Russell doesn’t guard anyone. He doesn’t have the size to guard anyone. You have to have Curry on the court in key moments and you are going awfully small when you have those two guys together. Wiggins isn’t exactly a LeBron stopper, but he will give you something on that end. He is durable and is out there constantly. He doesn’t really miss that much games.
Michael Pina: You are really selling me on Andrew Wiggins right now. laughs
Golliver: I’m trying. It’s not exactly trying to sell water to a whale right here. But offensively, he would be better suited for a fourth option role. If he doesn’t have to create on the ball and on the dribble, he is going to annoy people a lot less. He’s not going to be allowed to take those tough turnaround twos he loves to fall in love with in Minnesota. That is not going to be his job. It’s going to be stand in the corner and attack the weak side if defenses overload on Steph. He’s capable of doing that and he should be able to contribute in flashes. They are both way overpaid and they are both aggravating on a night-to-night basis. They are both guys who got too much hype early and they have been living with the burden of that their entire careers. I just think Golden State was able to get the picks out of the deal and to realign their fit better. I view them as winners.
Pina: I think just going back to what Golden State did back when they acquired Russell—they basically have spun Kevin Durant leaving them in free agency for Andrew Wiggins, for which is whatever and a first-round pick that is going to be really valuable. I think that is kind of miraculous if you kind of compare it to what happened with the Oklahoma City Thunder when they lost Kevin Durant and got nothing.
Golliver: I just think it’s fair to Andrew Wiggins to never say Kevin Durant occupied that job. It might feel a bit unfair.