Timberwolves tried trading for Kevin Durant before landing Rudy Gobert

Before trading for Rudy Gobert, the Minnesota Timberwolves were trying to break the NBA with a Kevin Durant deal. 

Let’s spare hyperbole, this isn’t the same old Minnesota Timberwolves.

With the exception of a few seasons — an amount that could be counted on one hand — the last three decades of Wolves basketball has been nothing short of miserable and forgettable.

However as a great Minnesotan once sang, the times they are a changin’.

New ownership has seemingly jumpstarted an era of Timberwolves basketball unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. Not only did the team make the playoffs last year with a roster built toward sustained success (rather than the short-lived Jimmy Butler era that barely counts) but Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez are investing in the team in ways Glen Taylor never really did.

The governor plate has been removed and the Timberwolves are going warp speed. Rules of previous law no longer exist.

Nothing represents this more than Minnesota making uncharacteristic waves by landing Rudy Gobert in a blockbuster trade with the Utah Jazz. Typically the Wolves are on the other side of these sorts of deals, trading their superstar for a huge package of assets. This time they are the ones mortgaging the future to land a missing piece that VP of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly believes takes the franchise to the next level.

Further proof of how different this era of Wolves can be found in the blockbuster trade that didn’t happen.

Kevin Durant rumors: Timberwolves tried to make a deal before Gobert trade

According to The Athletic’s John Krawczynski, the Timberwolves made “several calls” to the Nets about a potential Kevin Durant trade. Talks reportedly fell apart when the Wolves were unwilling to include either Karl-Anthony Towns or Anthony Edwards as part of the deal.

Let’s record scratch pause for a moment.

The Minnesota Timberwolves have a franchise winning percentage of less than 40 percent and have played in fewer than 60 playoff games throughout its entire existence. Since 1989 the Timberwolves have produced a single season where the team finished higher than third place in their division and have won just two playoff series (and none since 2004).

That team tried to snatch Kevin Durant to create a Big 3 of Durant-KAT-Ant before moving three unprotected first-round picks and a gaggle of player assets to land a three-time Defensive Player of the Year who many believe to be the best rim protector of the last decade.

Imagine if the Wolves had tried this hard when Kevin Garnett was still in his prime. Or tried to build around Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio with this sort of aggressiveness. There’s a sizable chance — given both logic and the weight of history for the Timberwolves franchise — that the Gobert trade doesn’t work. But how would that be any different than the last 30 years of irrelevancy in the NBA? If things go south, Minnesota can always recoup assets by trading away its superstar players, same as it ever was.

The Gobert trade and the attempt to land Durant signal a total sea-change for a franchise trying to forgive and forget the sins of its past. Quite literally an animal backed into a corner with nothing to lose, the Timberwolves — for perhaps the first time in the existence of the franchise — are absolutely going for it.

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