The New York Knicks have surprised many with their fantastic start to the season, sitting 17-17 through 34 games, No. 5 in the East and 13th league-wide in net rating at +0.6.
All in all, first-year head coach Tom Thibodeau has done a great job pushing all the right buttons with the young team so far, and for him to have New York performing playoff-level basketball despite having just one star on the roster is quite impressive.
Of course, the Knicks looking this stable while playing in the league’s biggest market could make New York a very appealing free-agent or trade destination sooner rather than later, and there are already rumors attaching them to various big names.
Among them, Karl-Anthony Towns, who played for Thibodeau for just over two seasons and is currently toiling away on the Minnesota Timberwolves, arguably the worst team in the league this year.
Although the common belief is that Towns and Thibodeau didn’t have the best working relationship during their time together in Minnesota, especially towards the end during the Jimmy Butler trade saga, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News recently reported that Thibodeau would ‘be open’ to a reunion with the supremely talented big man and that the Knicks are monitoring Towns’ situation (via SNY on YouTube):
Stefan Bondy: I don’t know if Minnesota would ever make Karl-Anthony Towns available. But as bad as things ended for Thibodeau in Minnesota, I’ve heard that he’d be open to Karl-Anthony Towns again because Thibodeau just wants to win and he thinks Karl-Anthony Towns will help him do that. And so I know that Karl-Anthony Towns is somebody that’s actually been reported before that the Knicks are monitoring as well.
Towns is currently averaging 22.5 points, 10.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game, and though he’s considered to be having a somewhat down season by his extremely high standards (reasonable considering all he’s been through recently), he’s still one of just four players putting up a 22/10/4 stat line in 2020-21, so there’s no doubt he’d be a huge pickup for any team, one that would not come cheap whatsoever.
But there’s no indication that Towns wants to go anywhere, even despite Ryan Saunders’ firing, the Timberwolves’ sloppy midseason coaching change that came afterward or the fact that team owner Glen Taylor has been trying to sell the franchise for a year.
In fact, just this week, Towns talked about wanting to spend his entire career in Minnesota despite all the turmoil going on with the club (via ESPN):
Towns made it clear that he wants to finish his career in Minnesota but described this latest coaching move as “just the business.” “I would love to finish my career here in Minnesota until obviously the business calls or business changes or whatever the case may be,” Towns said. “I don’t plan on it to, or at least I’m not hoping to make the decision. I want to build something great here. I want to build a legacy in Minnesota. I’m just every day trying to help our coaching staff and help this organization build a culture.”
Towns’ quote is somewhat interesting in that he said he’d want to stay in Minnesota until business ‘calls’, leaving the door wide open for things to change quickly.
But regardless, it’d be absolutely shocking to see a Towns trade go down this season, barring something major happening with the Timberwolves. If anything, Towns, who has three seasons left on his contract after this one, could decide it’s time to move on after the campaign, but anything like that going down in-season seems extremely unlikely.
If that change of heart does happen, however, one team that will be at the front of the discussion will be the Knicks, whose team president Leon Rose used to be Towns’ agent, and who have a head coach with a prior relationship with the 25-year-old.
For more on the Karl-Anthony Towns trade front, click here.