The Minnesota Timberwolves will be looking to be involved in the trade market this summer and it appears their top target could be Philadelphia 76ers guard/forward Ben Simmons.
According to The Athletic's Jon Krawczynski, the Timberwolves are interested in acquiring Simmons and "will be in" as trade discussions ramp up in the coming weeks.
"The Timberwolves pride themselves on getting involved in trade talks," Krawczynski said. "...Sources indicate that they will be in on Simmons in addition to a number of other players as they try to vault into playoff contention in the Western Conference.”
The pursuit of Simmons will be the key storyline for the Timberwolves this summer but there are several hurdles to clear before it becomes a reality.
The first is navigating the luxury tax threshold. According to Spotrac, the Timberwolves are roughly $3.3 million under the $136.6 million threshold. While the Timberwolves could just pay the tax, it's not something that teams do when they're trying to fight to get into the play-in tournament.
Four teams (Milwaukee, Golden State, Brooklyn and the Los Angeles Clippers) went over the luxury tax last season and only the Brooklyn Nets failed to make the conference finals.
With that in mind, the Timberwolves would likely have to match salaries. Krawczynski's report lists Ricky Rubio ($17 million), Malik Beasley ($13.5 million), Jarret Culver ($6 million), and Jake Layman ($3.7 million) as players that could be moved in a deal.
There's also the possibility that D'Angelo Russell ($30 million) could be put into a trade, but Krawczynski doesn't believe he's available.
"Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell (the Timberwolves view Russell as a part of the core and want to keep it that way, sources said) give coach Chris Finch three accomplished offensive players to get buckets down the stretch," Krawczynski said.
"That would free up Simmons to do what he does best: defend every position on the floor the way an offense-heavy Wolves lineup would need him to do and get out in transition, which would be a fit with how [president of basketball operations Gersson] Rosas and Finch want to play."
That could mean the Timberwolves having to part with some of their younger players such as Jaden McDaniels or Naz Reid to make the deal more attractive to Philadelphia.
An alternative is to find a third team to complete the trade that would add a more intriguing asset for the 76ers to acquire. That could involve a mystery team such as the Clippers getting involved as the two sides talked during the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago.
The Timberwolves are also hosting a draft scouting event in Minneapolis this week that is expected to have front office personnel from 25 teams in attendance. That could spawn face-to-face conversations that could lay the groundwork for a deal.
Even with all the hurdles, acquiring Simmons would be a massive move for the Timberwolves. Although he imploded during last year's playoffs, Simmons would join a team that already has shooters and as a two-time All-Defensive Team selection his all-around game would be welcomed in Minnesota.