League sources told The Athletic there wasnât anything out there from Townsâ camp about a fracturing relationship or a growing frustration with the Wolves as an organization. They claimed the losing is frustrating for Towns and other members of the organization, but there wasnât any reason to believe this will became a long-term issueâŚ yet.
While certain league sources downplayed the Towns situation with the Wolves â confirming what Jon Krawczynski reported â there were multiple front office sources from Western Conference teams away from the situation curious if the friendship between Towns and Russell serves as a conduit between parties. Towns and Russell are great friends, along with Booker from the Phoenix Suns. Speculation certainly exists focusing on the friendship of Towns and Russell, wondering whether or not Russell could be feeding information to the Warriors.
While it could be four years until Towns even considers another team, the Warriors want to be aggressive in knowing everything about the situation. Some people around the NBA wonder if Russell essentially becomes an inside man when it comes to knowing the thoughts of Towns moving forward.
Sources connected to both Towns and the Timberwolves downplayed any concern about his long-term outlook in Minnesota in the wake of the attention showered on the final two paragraphs of Straussâs story. The sourcing is not coming from anyone connected to Towns, so most directly involved see it as the inevitable chatter that surfaces when losses mount.
The Wolves have been adamant, in every conversation Iâve had with them, that they are building âeverythingâ around Towns. The swift fall from Minnesotaâs promising 10-8 start to 12th in the West entering Tuesdayâs play is undeniably alarming, but Iâve been advised that the idea of trading Towns is pretty much the last thing the Wolves are thinking about. Donât forget that Towns is in Year 1 of a five-year, $190 million contract extension. The Wolves also have a new front-office regime headed by Gersson Rosas. Rushing into a trade of that magnitude makes little sense.
Rosas and Saunders have built their foundation on culture and connectivity and have bent over backward to empower Towns as the face of the franchise. Towns and Saunders have been close for years, and the star player will routinely just drop in at his coachâs home for an impromptu visit on his way home from practice.
Darren Wolfson: Let me add: the #Twolves are not moving KAT anytime soon. Stories like this create discussion, and selfishly, are good for business, whether for radio or TV. But just know that Wolves folks would tell you that KAT more than anything wants to win here. Year 1 of 5 offers time.
Every plausible team is keyed on Milwaukeeâs Giannis Antetokounmpo, whose future may be determined by whatever happens in these upcoming playoffs. The Warriors have been monitoring Karl-Anthony Townsâ situation in Minnesota. Heâs under contract until 2023-24 but has less reason than Antetokounmpo to be thrilled with his teamâs trajectory.
This was a topic among multiple team executives at the recent G League Showcase, with a few relaying word that Towns is unhappy in Minnesota. The Wolves currently sit at 13th in the Western Conference, two spots ahead of the gap-year Warriors, looking at another lost season. While the Wolves might dream of a scenario where Russell teams up with his good friend Towns, the Warriors have a differing vision of how a trade between the two franchises could shake out.
According to the source, another player the Knicks are expected to monitor is local product, Karl Anthony-Towns, the Timbwolvesâ 24-year-old superstar who also signed a max extension this summer. In an era when stars have shunned the Knicks (Irving, Kevin Durant, Kemba Walker, Leonard), itâs only logical Towns would intrigue the front office.
Flash forward a year and thereâs a completely different feeling between the franchise and its centerpiece. New President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas has made it clear at every turn that the priority is building around Towns. New coach Ryan Saunders has a close relationship with Towns and is fashioning the offense to take full advantage of his varied skill set. How different does it feel? âIâm here. Thatâs the answer. Thatâs the best answer I can give you,â Towns said. âIâm here. Iâm actually in Minnesota. You can write about that what you want.â
âThe biggest thing when you have that conversation [about a star switching teams] is you say, âIs he happy here?ââ Towns said. âIâm tremendously happy. I love my front office. I love my coaching staff. I think weâve made great moves and great changes. I love the culture we have here. If you want to leave, you have to be miserable somewhere. I am not there. Iâm planning to be in Minnesota for a long time.â
Itâs tough to predict which players may be available in the long term, but as I wrote in January: Teams are monitoring Ben Simmons (Sixers), Devin Booker (Suns), and Karl-Anthony Towns (Timberwolves). All three players are locked into contracts now, but if the Suns or Wolves keep losing or if Simmons takes a back seat in Philadelphia, situations can sour. The true prize, however, will hit the market in two years.
The Timberwolves have no interest in trading Towns and Towns has not come close to making such a request, according to sources, so all signs point to a deal eventually getting done. Those negotiations also will likely provide an opportunity for constructive communication between Towns, Thibodeau and Taylor, who always likes to get involved in these major deals.
Thibodeau and Towns have spoken on the phone this offseason, league sources told The Athletic, and there is expected to be more substantive dialogue in the coming weeks when Towns returns from his travels. According to several people familiar with the situation, there has not been an impasse between the two. Towns has not asked for a trade and the Wolves are not considering trading him. As contract extension talks kick off for Towns this summer, the communication only figures to increase.
âI think their owner would trade management/the coach before he would trade Karl-Anthony Towns,â Wojnarowski said. âI donât think they would allow that. I just donât believe theyâd allow that kind of decision. And I donât know that theyâd want to trade him. To answer this first, Minnesotaâs bigger issue is notâŚheâs Karl-Anthony Towns, theyâre not moving him, Towns is eligible for his extension this summer. You know Jimmy ButlerâŚitâs more of a question of Andrew Wiggins. That to me would be, if someone was going to get moved â and Iâm not saying anyoneâs going to get moved â I think Andrew Wiggins is the one youâre going to look at first. BecauseâŚyou donât have to make a decision on Towns and Jimmy Butler and one of those guys having to take less on an extension, because you canât have three [max] guys.â
Brian Windhorst: They recently fired Vince Legarza, whoâs his strength-and-conditioning coach or heâs actually his workout coach with the Wolves and, according to The Athletic, didnât tell him about it. He found out when everybody else did. I donât think that the Wolves are looking to trade him, but teams are definitely sniffing around as if maybe thereâs something here. Theyâve already taken some calls on him. This is not new. Blake Griffin, the Clippers called and offered Blake Griffin for him. Theyâre going to, I believe, get more calls on this, especially the way there seems to be a disconnect between Karl and the franchise.
Appearing on ESPN, Brian Windhorst elaborated on talk of tension between Towns and Minnesota: "Letâs just put it this way: I didnât make this up. People in the league have been saying, âYou know, maybe we should call and take a look and see whatâs going on with Karl Towns.â Now, he and Tom Thibodeau did not have the greatest season together. I think thatâs far to say.
Brian Windhorst: "Has anybody noticed what's going on in Minnesota with Karl-Anthony Towns and that organization?" Zach Lowe: "Darren Wolfson [veteran reporter in Minnesota] alluded to a lot of it on a podcast a couple weeks ago. I said on a podcast recently that I just have a gut feeling something crazy is gonna happen there this summer. It's not in a good place right now internally." Windhorst: "If I were the Celtics, I would make a quiet call to Minnesota."
Brian Windhorst: "I would just say, if the Celtics are looking for opportunities and sort of lay and wait, that might be one [Minnesota and Karl-Anthony Towns] right there. I don't think Anthony Davis is going anywhere, anytime soon. Karl Towns, that might be a different story."
The Los Angeles Clippers proposed a blockbuster deal to the Minnesota Timberwolves involving forward Blake Griffin and center Karl-Anthony Towns, league sources told Basketball Insiders. The trade proposal didnât advance past an exploratory call from the Clippers as Minnesota declined, league sources told Basketball Insiders.
As a result, additional Timberwolves players needed to make the trade work financially were not discussed, league sources told Basketball Insiders. Griffin makes $29.5 million and Towns only makes $6.2 million this season, which makes a one-for-one swap impossible due to the $23.3 million salary gap. At least two additional Timberwolves players would need to be included in a trade involving Griffin and Towns to make it work financially. The Clippers wouldâve also needed to create another roster spot for the hypothetical incoming third Timberwolves player.
The Timberwolves explored several trade options in June, including for Chicago star Jimmy Butler, but Thibodeau, also Minnesotaâs president of basketball operations, now sounds as committed as anyone in the franchise to his young trio. Outside the organization, executives wonder about Minnesotaâs inclination to keep all three. But within the franchise, there is no question: management and owner Glen Taylor will do whatever it takes financially in order to win. âI love our core three guys, and what I love most is their work ethic, their dedication to work,â Thibodeau said. âThey understand the level we need to reach, particularly defensively, and their work shows that they will work to get it right. We understand that itâs going to take some time and we need to work at it each and every day.â
It is unclear whether the Miami Heat have the assets to swing a deal for one of Minnesotaâs three young studs, and itâs surprising that the Timberwolves are reportedly willing to move any of them so early in the season. In any case, whether the Tâwolves decide to keep the trio intact or the Heat refuse to put together an adequate trade proposal, it remains unlikely that Towns, Wiggins or LaVine will be taking their talents to South Beach.
Justin Pinotti: You mentioned no Zach LaVine for Tobias Harris. Think Wolves would have interest in him for something else? Good PF fit potentially IMO. - Darren Wolfson: Told Tobias Harris isn't that available. You'd have to blow them away. #Twolves aren't moving Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine.
July 31, 2021 | 5:23 pm EDT Update
As it turns out, the Celticsâ trade for Josh Richardson may have been insurance for a free-agent priority that is not working out so well. According to a league source, negotiations between the Celtics and Evan Fournier are close to stalling, with the team unwilling to meet the valuable wing playerâs asking price of $80 million over four years.
Though itâs unclear what the Celtics are offering, âitâs not looking good,â said the source. As evidenced by reports that the Knicks and Fournier have developed a mutual interest, the Celtics now face stiff competition.
Bobby Marks: The $19.8M salary of Julius Randle is now officially guaranteed. The contract had $4M in guaranteed money for 2021/22 with a July 31 trigger date for the balance. Randle is eligible to sign a four-year $106M extension this offseason.
July 31, 2021 | 4:36 pm EDT Update
Shams Charania: The Detroit Pistons are waiving guard Cory Joseph and F/G Deividas Sirvydis, sources tell me and @James Edwards III.