ORLANDO — The NBA trade deadline passed Thursday afternoon, and the Timberwolves didn’t make any deals.
With their inaction, the Wolves are sending the signal that they are going to try and make a push for the playoffs, something owner Glen Taylor wanted when he replaced Tom Thibodeau with interim coach Ryan Saunders last month.
That’s not to say the Wolves were quiet before deciding not to make any trades. They were trying to move the contracts of Gorgui Dieng and Jeff Teague, league sources said. But there wasn’t much interest from other teams to take on those salaries. Teague has a player option for $19 million next season that he might take, given he has been injured most of this season, while Dieng has two years remaining on a four-year deal worth nearly $63 million.
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The Wolves had some players on expiring contracts in Anthony Tolliver, Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson who could’ve become contributors on other contending teams.
Players like Tolliver and Teague tried not to let trade talk bother them before Thursday’s game against Orlando, even if they were the subject of speculation.
“It don’t really bother me too much,” Teague said. “Earlier in my career, yeah, when I was in Atlanta, because that’s all I knew. I would be hurt. Now it’s whatever.”
Added Tolliver: “Things that are out of our control, you’ll drive yourself crazy trying to control things you can’t. I just sit back and let the people who make those decisions make those decisions. If I’m here tonight, I play. If I’m not, I don’t.”
The Wolves have four contributors on the injury report — Teague, Rose, Robert Covington and Tyus Jones — who should be back with the Wolves at some point this season. Their return should provide a boost and could present an opportunity to Taylor, who also owns the Star Tribune, to fully evaluate Saunders with a full roster.