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With the NBA trade deadline approaching Thursday afternoon, the Timberwolves are 13-6 since the calendar turned to 2023.

They find themselves in a fascinating position: Ascending in the Western Conference standings, but still very much in the murky middle. They could finish in the top six (assuring a playoff spot), finish 7-10 (assuring a play-in spot) or miss the postseason altogether.

The franchise could go a lot of different directions in the next six months. While a recent Star Tribune interview with President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly didn't provide a road map for where things are headed, it did provide some clues as to the path ahead — something Patrick Reusse and I talked about on Monday's Daily Delivery podcast.

Here are three things Connelly said that stood out:

1. On D'Angelo Russell: "Certainly there's plenty of scenarios where he's our point guard not just now but for the future as well." He used similar hedging language when answering a question abut Russell, Naz Reid and Jaylen Nowell, all of whom are trade candidates because they are impending free agents. He said the Wolves have had "varying degrees of discussions about contract extensions" with all three and they all "are important to what we're doing now and could be important to what we're doing in the future." The big one here is Russell, who has been great in recent weeks but has a history of inconsistency (in addition to being very expensive). It's hard to imagine trading Russell now, but it is convenient that Jordan McLaughlin just returned from his calf injury.

2. On the competition: "We think the West is wide open right now," Connelly said. This is a statement of fact, with the Wolves just two games behind the No. 3 seed but also just three games ahead of the No. 13 seed. It gives me the sense that Connelly, while not looking to make a deal just for the short-term, values the possibility of a postseason trip this season even if the Wolves are not yet a championship-caliber team.

3. On Karl-Anthony Towns' health: "Karl is going to be back when he's fully healthy and we expect that to happen this year," Connelly said. Though there's no timetable for KAT's return from a calf strain, Connelly only being willing to say "expect" in regards to a return in a season that still has two months left is interesting. Towns could come back in a few weeks and be a force down the stretch. Or the Wolves could decide he's better as a summer trade piece and shut him down. Neither outcome would be shocking at this point.