On the latest edition of the HoopsHype podcast, host Michael Scotto is joined by Jon Krawczynski, who covers the Minnesota Timberwolves for The Athletic. Krawczynski and Scotto discussed the latest report about teams keeping an eye on Karl-Anthony Towns and the possibility of him being traded. The duo also discussed what Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore will bring to the Timberwolves after purchasing the team and what their arrival means for the future of the front office. Finally, the pair reviewed Tom Thibodeau’s tenure, Anthony Edwards’ case for Rookie of the Year, and more. For more interviews with players, coaches, and media members, be sure to like and subscribe to the HoopsHype podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and anywhere else you listen to podcasts. Listen to the podcast above or check out some snippets of the conversation in a transcribed version below.
1:10 What is Towns’ mindset currently in Minnesota?
Krawczynski: I do understand why plenty of executives around the league are monitoring the situation closely. Towns has been in Minnesota for six years. He’s only made the playoffs one year. The team in general has really struggled the past couple of years. He went through injuries, he’s gone through losing his mother and some other family members to Covid. It’s just been kind of a miserable existence really for the last few years. That said, from everything that I’ve been able to glean from Towns, his camp, and the Timberwolves themselves, I don’t think there’s anything imminent in terms of any kind of a trade request or things of that nature. He’s got three years left on his contract, which obviously the Timberwolves want to keep a player of his talent around.
From what I can gather, there’s an appreciation that Towns has for what the organization has done in terms of helping him through all of the grief that he has suffered over this last year. He’s got D’Angelo Russell here, his good buddy. He really does like Anthony Edwards a lot. He kind of envisions himself as a big brother to Edwards and helping him along in his development. You never say never with these things. You’re always going to be watching this, but all the indications on the ground here in Minnesota is that Towns is comfortable here and he likes his surroundings. He obviously wants to win. He wants to get back to the playoffs.
5:10 Could the Knicks make a run at Towns?
Scotto: Recently, Carmelo Anthony moved into the Top 10 all-time on the NBA’s scoring list, and Towns was asked about him. He spoke glowingly about Carmelo’s time with the Knicks. He said he made it cool to be a Knick. With that in mind, I’ll always remember someone close to Towns who told me for years that one day he’d love to be a Knick. I remember his dad being at MSG when Leon Rose, the Knicks’ President who was Towns’ former agent, got the job, and it was his first day at the Garden on the job.
To your point about other executives around the league keeping tabs on Towns, obviously, that makes a ton of sense. Other executives around the league have always felt the Knicks would try to land a star in this league that’s with CAA due to the ties Rose has from working there previously before he took the job with the Knicks. With the Knicks, they have the pieces to go out and try to get — it doesn’t have to be Towns, it could be another star. They’ve got Mitchell Robinson, a young center. They’ve got RJ Barrett, who’s a nice young player. They’ve got their draft picks if needed as well. For me, if Towns is on the trade block, I’d definitely look at the Knicks to be among several teams around the league who’ll make a pitch for him.
Krawczynski: Leon has a long relationship with Towns. He was Towns’ agent with Jessica Holtz. Kenny Payne is on Thibodeau’s staff, and Towns and Payne are very close from their Kentucky days. Worldwide Wes. There are a lot of connections there. One interesting element to it would be the Thibodeau factor. He and Towns didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye when he was in Minnesota. It wasn’t like they were at each other’s throats or anything, but they were just never on the same page. It would be interesting to see how a reunion like that would work. I do know the Knicks fandom in the Towns family is real.
Ultimately, what it comes down to is will the Timberwolves put a winning team around Towns? If they don’t, eventually, he will go. If they do, I think he’ll stay for a long time. I don’t think that this summer is the be-all and end-all for it. I think he’s got one more year at least of seeing how this is all going to work out. If they go into next season, it just doesn’t work, and they’re back in the lottery again back at the bottom of the Western Conference, then I really could see this whole thing coming to a head.
I don’t think the Knicks honestly have the assets to get him. I don’t think Barrett, Robinson, and whatever picks they’re going to have since they’re not going to be in the lottery will be good enough for Towns, who’s one of the best offensive players in the league and has three years left on his deal.
The team that I would watch is Golden State. That’s the team that maybe they need veterans around Steph Curry and not their young pieces and maybe lottery picks or things like that. Again, I don’t think that’s going to happen. I don’t think the Wolves are going to trade Towns.
12:10 What to expect from Minnesota this offseason?
Krawczynski: Obviously, they hope they get one of the top-three picks because not only is it a great draft at the top, but if they don’t land in the top three, Golden State gets their draft pick as part of the Andrew Wiggins and Russell trade. That’s their big chip.
I think in terms of trades, I don’t think Towns is going anywhere, but you could see possibly Ricky Rubio moving in the last year of his deal if they can find a suitor for him, but he’s making $17 million. I think Malik Beasley is their biggest trade chip because he’s on a good contract, he has really performed well when he’s been on the court. He has some off-court issues that teams would have to be comfortable with, but in terms of production, youth, and value, he’s the guy they could package with someone else or a pick and go get a real plus asset to bring in. Otherwise, you’re talking about Jarrett Culver, Josh Okogie, Jake Layman… I do think Gersson Rosas will be aggressive in trying to make trades and trying to reconfigure the roster even further to maximize Towns, Russell, Edwards, and Jaden McDaniels.
Scotto: You touched on McDaniels. The Timberwolves got calls on him at the trade deadline and were reluctant, and I think that’s putting it nicely. They didn’t want to move him. Gersson definitely values him in terms of a guy that can be a part of the core looking ahead, especially being that he’s such a younger guy.
15:45 What Alex Rodriguez and the new ownership will mean for management and the team looking ahead?
Krawczynski: I honestly think there’s pressure on Gersson because he’s going into year three, and the first two years have not been productive from a wins standpoint. Regardless of new ownership, and they’re still working on that deal, and they’re hoping to close it. I expect it to get done, but it’s not officially done yet. When Rodriguez and Lore join the ownership group, they’re going to be initially limited partners or minority owners to Glen Taylor, who’s going to retain control for two years. It’s good for Rosas because Taylor hired Rosas, so there’s a chance he’s going to have an advocate in the big chair to keep him around in the short term.
Scotto: You touched on Culver. He’s a guy, depending on who you talk to around the league, certain executives, they think he can be had (via trade) in the offseason.
22:10 Looking back on Tom Thibodeau’s tenure with the Timberwolves, his impact on the Knicks, and if Towns would consider a reunion
27:33 Anthony Edwards’ case for Rookie of the Year and personality behind the scenes
Krawczynski: He came into the draft and there were real questions about whether he loved the game? Does he take it seriously? Will he put the work in? This guy absolutely loves to play basketball. You talk to the coaches and he’s always in the gym. He wants to get better. There’s a hunger there that he has. The lazy kind of comparison was, is this Andrew Wiggins 2.0? In terms of another guy that’s not that competitive and doesn’t really take it seriously. He’s just here because he’s super athletic and can do it. This guy is going to be a monster in this league when he figures things out.