While Luol Deng and the Los Angeles Lakers have gotten off to an unexpected, successful start, other teams have struggled. The Minnesota Timberwolves, with a dismal 4-10 record, have stumbled out of the gates under new head coach Tom Thibodeau.
The former assistant under Doc Rivers is trying to bring a win-now mentality to the Timberwolves, which have lost some close contests he isn’t proud of. As both Thibodeau and Luke Walton continue dealing with a young core, it appears Thibodeau has noticed a potential difference that can drastically aid his team.
While coaching the likes of Andrew Wiggins, Zach Lavine, and Karl-Anthony Towns, he has also taken over as the president of basketball operations. With this role under his control, he has the ability to reach out and potentially trade for any pieces he thinks will enhance his roster towards posting victories.
According to Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report, Thibodeau is looking for former players he can trust with Luol Deng being a potential trade target:
Tom Thibodeau is not exactly a paragon of patience, which is why league sources expect that he is only a few more losses away from dealing one of his young stars for a veteran who can help him win now. His first look will be for a player he already knows and trusts because he’s already had that player in his system. Would the Lakers consider advancing their youth movement and dealing former Bull Luol Deng? Would the Bulls consider parting with Jimmy Butler or Taj Gibson? Where Thibs looks is not certain, nor is who he’d be willing to move. But those in the league who know his hunger to win and win now are convinced he will begin calling around soon, if he hasn’t already.
It has been no secret Deng hasn’t been off to an ideal start this season, as he continues to find his role amongst this rebuilding roster. Deng provides a veteran presence in this young locker room, as he has already helped the development of rookie Brandon Ingram.
Walton isn’t worried about his starting small forward’s sluggish start this season, as he expects it will all come in due time. However, if the Lakers were to receive an offer for another young piece, there could be a chance the Lakers pull the trigger.
Deng is a well-respected player in the league. A man who doesn’t lead with commands and yelling, but rather through demonstrating his work ethic and experience during his 13-year career.
Sources around the league understand that Thibodeau eagerly wants to win now and has this competitive nature about him. As he begins making calls around the league, it should take quite the fair haul (in terms of development) for the Lakers to depart with Deng.
Deng’s role on the Lakers resembles the exact position the Timberwolves are in need of, so a possible Deng departure may also set the Lakers back a key veteran presence moving forward.
In 16 games this season, the South Sudan native is averaging 6.8 points, 1.4 assists, and 5.5 rebounds, on 34 percent shooting.[H/T to Pro Basketball Talk]