Major questions await the Cleveland Cavaliers in what’s shaping up to be a crucial offseason for them following their second-round exit in the 2024 NBA playoffs that came at the hands of the Boston Celtics. The status of Donovan Mitchell will be the main story to watch, as the Cavs may end up trading him away if the star guard refuses to sign an extension. But Mitchell isn’t the only player the Cavs may entertain the idea of trading.

According to Brett Siegel of ClutchPoints, the idea of finding an upgrade in the backcourt may be something the Cavs entertain this offseason as they try to keep Mitchell in town. Thus, there is then a chance that Darius Garland ends up being the one who gives way; per Siegel, “Garland may wind up being the odd man out” if they decide to keep their twin-tower frontcourt setup of Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley.

If Garland ends up being on the trade block, the Minnesota Timberwolves, according to Siegel, “could show interest” in the 24-year old point guard. Mike Conley is currently doing a good job at leading the Timberwolves and orchestrating the offense, but at 36, his time as a high-caliber point guard in the NBA is running out. Could the Timberwolves somehow find a way to get their point guard of the future in Garland?

Darius Garland, as one would recall, was a top target of the Timberwolves back in the 2019 NBA Draft, when they traded up for the sixth overall pick with the hope of selecting the guard out of Vanderbilt. Alas, the Cavs picked him with the fifth overall selection, leaving the Timberwolves to pick Jarrett Culver. It’s safe to say that the Culver pick was a bust; Culver played in only 97 games for the Timberwolves across two seasons before they traded him away for Patrick Beverley. Culver would only play a total of 144 NBA games before flaming out in 2023.

Garland is the one that got away for the Timberwolves; but do they have the means to swing a trade that would be in the Cavs’ best interests?

Timberwolves’ potential trade package for Cavs’ Darius Garland, an analysis

It’s rather improbable that the Timberwolves could swing a trade for Darius Garland; after all, their cap burden is going to start reaching near-unbearable levels starting next season. They already have a total of $185.7 million in commitments for next season, and that’s with rotation players such as Monte Morris and Kyle Anderson entering free agency. They only have 10 players committed on the roster as well for next season, which means that they have a minimum of four roster spots to fill yet despite being only around $4 million away from breaching the second tax apron.

Karl-Anthony Towns’, Anthony Edwards’, and Jaden McDaniels’ huge contracts kick in next season, so it’s not likely that the Timberwolves add further to their already-considerable salary cap burden. But for the sake of discussion, what could the Timberwolves offer the Cavs in a potential deal for Garland?

Garland’s contract for next season is worth $36.7 million, so it will already be difficult for the Timberwolves to cobble together the salary required to swing a trade with the Cavs. With the Timberwolves likely to be in the second tax apron, they’ll be subject to trading restrictions. They cannot take more salary than they trade away and they cannot package together two or more players even if they end up taking less salary in return.

Thus, if the Timberwolves were to trade for Garland, they’ll have to do it before they cross the second tax apron. That means doing their work early in the offseason, which is simply unlikely given how important Garland is to the Cavs franchise. But again, let us analyze which players the Timberwolves can offer for the sake of this exercise.

They are certainly not trading Towns and Edwards away, and the Cavs will not be interested at all in Rudy Gobert due to the big men they already have on the roster. Thus, any Timberwolves trade package will have to start with Jaden McDaniels. McDaniels will be making $22.6 million next season, so they’ll have to send out at least $14.1 million more in salary due to the restrictions imposed by the first tax apron (they cannot take more salary in any trade).

Naz Reid will have to go, and one of Wendell Moore, Josh Minott, and Leonard Miller have to be added as well for the potential trade package to be compliant with league rules. At this point, a trade may not be worth it for the Timberwolves as they will have to deal away two crucial members of their gritty, defense-first core.

McDaniels and Reid will be great fits on the Cavs roster, but acquiring those two may be nothing but a pipe dream especially when Minnesota is not going to break up what is shaping up to be an impressive cast of players to improve a position that doesn’t necessarily need improving quite yet.