Like most expansion teams, the Timberwolves struggled in their early years; but after the acquisition of Kevin Garnett in the 1995 NBA Draft, the team made the playoffs eight consecutive times from 1997 to 2004. Despite losing in the first round in their first seven attempts, the Timberwolves won their first division title in 2004 and advanced to the Western Conference Finals. Garnett was also named the NBA Most Valuable Player Award for that season. The team has been in rebuilding mode since missing the playoffs in 2005, and trading Garnett to the Boston Celtics in 2007.
2010–Present: The Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio era
On July 12, 2010, Minnesota traded for Miami Heat forward Michael Beasley, the second pick from the 2008 NBA Draft. In a locally untelevised game on November 12, 2010, Kevin Love grabbed a franchise-record 31 rebounds and scored 31 points in a win over the New York Knicks, the NBA's first 30–30 game in 28 years.
Love was later named an All Star for the 2010–2011 NBA season, the franchise's first All Star selection since Kevin Garnett in 2007. Love would later break Garnett's team record of 37 straight double-doubles on February 8, 2011 in a win over the Houston Rockets. On March 8, 2011, Love acquired his 52nd straight double-double, surpassing the mark of Moses Malone for the most consecutive double-doubles since the NBA/ABA merger in a win over the Indiana Pacers. The streak eventually reached 53 games and came to an end with a six-point, 12-rebound performance in a 100–77 loss to the Golden State Warriors on March 13. In October, 2011, Love was ranked 16th among active players by ESPN.
On February 21, 2011, Corey Brewer and Kosta Koufos were traded to the New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets respectively for Knicks Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry (plus $3 million in cash from New York and a 2015 second-round draft pick from Denver) as part of a larger trade that sent all-star Carmelo Anthony from Denver to New York.
On the downside, with a 121–102 loss to the Houston Rockets, the Timberwolves fell to 17–65, finishing last in the Western Conference for the second straight year. They also clinched the 2010-11 NBA season's worst record. During the offseason, the Timberwolves were finally able to bring 2009 fifth overall pick Ricky Rubio over from Spain. In the 2011 NBA Draft, with the second overall pick, the Timberwolves selected Derrick Williams out of Arizona. The Timberwolves then traded guard Jonny Flynn and the draft rights to Donatas Motiejunas (No. 20) to the Houston Rockets for center Brad Miller, the draft rights to Nikola Mirotic (No. 23), Chandler Parsons (No. 38) and a future first-round pick. The Timberwolves traded Mirotic’s rights to the Chicago Bulls for the rights to Norris Cole (No. 28) and Malcolm Lee (No. 43). The Timberwolves then sold the rights to Parsons back to the Rockets. The Timberwolves traded Norris Cole (No. 28) to the Miami Heat for the draft rights to Bojan Bogdanovic (No. 31), a future second-round pick and cash considerations then later Bogdanovic traded to New Jersey Nets for a future second-rounder and cash. The Trail Blazers traded the draft rights to Tanguy Ngombo to the Timberwolves.
On July 12, 2011, Kurt Rambis was fired as coach of the team after compiling a 32–132 record in two seasons with the team. On September 13, 2011, the team announced that they had hired Rick Adelman to be the team's new head coach.
The Timberwolves began the 2011-12 NBA season with a 17–17 record before the All-Star break. On March 16, 2012, Ricky Rubio tore his left ACL and LCL in a collision with Kobe Bryant. This injury ended his season and severely hurt the Timberwolves' chances of making the playoffs. Despite being in contention at mid-season, the team ultimately failed to reach the postseason for the eighth straight year due to injuries to a number of key players. The team finished with a record of 26-40, with the only win of the team's final fourteen games coming against the Detroit Pistons. The team traded the 18th overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft to the Houston Rockets for Chase Budinger.
On June 26, 2012, the Timberwolves selected Robbie Hummel with the 58th overall pick, the team's only selection during the draft. During the offseason, the team signed former Timberwolves draft pick Brandon Roy to a two-year, $10 million contract. The deal was announced on July 31. With the inclusion of Roy in the shooting guard position, players that also signed during the offseason included Andrei Kirilenko, Alexey Shved and Louis Amundson. While technically in playoff contention early, multiple injuries began to plague the team. Roy, Budinger, Lee and free agent signing Josh Howard succombed to knee injuries. The mood of despair was shortly lifted by the splashy return of Rubio. But not long after, Love, who missed the first nine games of the season after fracturing the third and fourth metacarpals in his right hand in a preseason home workout, suffered a recurrence of the injury in a win over the Denver Nuggets on January 3. One of the few highlights in the second half of the season was Rubio's triple-double performance during a surprising win over the then-first place San Antonio Spurs, albeit without Spurs stars Tony Parker and Tim Duncan playing due to injury. On April 6, in a game against the Detroit Pistons, Adelman won his 1000th game as a head coach.[61 This season marked the first time the franchise had won at least 30 games without Kevin Garnett on the roster. The team decided to part ways with David Kahn after the season ended, with Flip Saunders being brought in to replace him. In the 2013 NBA Draft, the team acquired Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng in the first round
Minnesota Timberwolves Roster
|Ricky Rubio||9||Point guard|
|Kevin Love||42||Power forward|
|Jose Juan Barea||11||Point guard|
|Luke Ridnour||13||Point guard|
|Chase Budinger||10||Small forward|
|Dante Cunningham||33||Power forward|
|Malcolm Lee||8||Shooting guard|