There are a few non-negotiables for the Wolves at this point. Sources indicate that the Wolves have no plans to entertain offers for Towns, Russell or Edwards, seeing them as pillars of the plan to pull the team out of the Western Conference basement. They are looking forward to seeing how all three play together with Finch overseeing things.
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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.
Otherwise, the Knicks have accumulated enough assets to try a blockbuster trade and have been linked to two players who were once represented by Rose: Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns and Phoenix’s Devin Booker. However, those players, like Mitchell in the future, are locked up contractually by their respective teams for multiple years.
The drawback to hiring Thibodeau is it hurts the chance of acquiring Wolves stud Karl-Anthony Towns if he’s put on the block. That’s too bad since president Leon Rose is his former agent. The Post reported in December Towns was a target in the Knicks’ pursuit of a star demanding a trade — which has become vogue in the NBA.
“I think with D-Lo here, it’s always going to be a big incentive for me to want to stay,” Towns said. “D-Lo is a big part of everything the vision is. D-Lo always knows he’s going to be wanted because his brother is here with him and he always knows he’s going to have his back covered because I’m always going to be there for him.”
The Star-Tribune: So you’d understand it, even if it would be tough to take? Karl-Anthony Towns: I mean, you’ve been through my journey. You’ve seen how much change I went through. Obviously there’s a lot of decisions (where), obviously, as a person — person to person — you obviously don’t like, and as a player you may not like, but it’s something you’ve got to live with. And that comes with just having trust in those guys, so I’m not going to say either — anything. Like I said, I don’t get paid to make those decisions. Those are tough decisions, but here’s to hoping that I see Cov on Friday I guess. … Look man, he’s a great guy, a great dude. He’s a great player. He’s helped me tremendously and he’s continuing to help me every day. He just gives me such comfort out there.
The Star-Tribune: How much would you want Cov to stay here, because he’s been a focus of all this? Karl-Anthony Towns: I mean I think it’s very, very, very — for you, especially (he says to beat reporter Chris Hine) — I think it’s very obvious (that) he’s my best friend on the team, so it would be very difficult if something like that was going to happen. Um, you know, but like with Zach LaVine (who was traded from Minnesota to Chicago in the Jimmy Butler trade in June 2017) , you know this is a business. So like I said, I’m the one who just plays the game. I don’t get paid to make rosters and stuff like that. That’s why we have Gerss and them, so…
Monday on NBC Sports Boston’s Arbella Early Edition, A. Sherrod Blakely explained how Boston will be one of the teams engaging with the Minnesota Timberwolves if they make their All-Star big man Karl-Anthony Towns available. As much as the Celtics are one of the teams that like Capela, he’s not the only guy that they have their eyes on. You know, Karl-Anthony Towns is a name that we’ve heard quite often and right now Minnesota isn’t quite ready to engage teams in conversations about him. But make no mistake about it, he too will be a player that I think if they make him available, Boston will be among the teams that will express interest.
Despite recent rumors and speculation with the Feb. 6 NBA trade deadline quickly approaching, Rosas insists that Towns, 24, is Minnesota’s franchise guy for now and the future. “Karl-Anthony Towns is as untouchable as they come,” Rosas told ESPN. “He’s the best player on our team and he’s the guy we’re building around. Everything we do is to help him become the best player and to help us become the best team we can be. He’s a special talent that we’re going to do anything possible to help him achieve his highest potential.”
While he was out, reports surfaced concerning teams monitoring Towns’ level of unhappiness. In his first public comments since the injury, he made a strong statement that reaffirmed his commitment to the Wolves when asked about those reports. Here it is in full, with a curse word edited. “I think you’ve been around me long enough to know I don’t go for all the …,” Towns said. “I just do my job, go home and I know what the real story is. There’s a reason those stories are made because people need to sell papers, sell links and clicks, whatever the case may be. I’m here to be a Minnesota Timberwolf. Very fortunate I have a head coach like [Ryan Saunders], a President and friend like [Gersson Rosas]. I’m not worried about all that nonsense.
League sources told The Athletic there wasn’t anything out there from Towns’ 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 wasn’t any reason to believe this will became a long-term issue… yet.
While certain league sources downplayed the Towns situation with the Wolves — confirming what Jon Krawczynski reported — 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 Strauss’s 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 I’ve had with them, that they are building “everything” around Towns. The swift fall from Minnesota’s promising 10-8 start to 12th in the West entering Tuesday’s play is undeniably alarming, but I’ve been advised that the idea of trading Towns is pretty much the last thing the Wolves are thinking about. Don’t 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 coach’s 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 Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, whose future may be determined by whatever happens in these upcoming playoffs. The Warriors have been monitoring Karl-Anthony Towns’ situation in Minnesota. He’s under contract until 2023-24 but has less reason than Antetokounmpo to be thrilled with his team’s 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 Timbwolves’ 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), it’s only logical Towns would intrigue the front office.
Flash forward a year and there’s 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? “I’m here. That’s the answer. That’s the best answer I can give you,” Towns said. “I’m here. I’m actually in Minnesota. You can write about that what you want.”
“The biggest thing when you have that conversation [about a star switching teams] is you say, ‘Is he happy here?’” Towns said. “I’m tremendously happy. I love my front office. I love my coaching staff. I think we’ve 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. I’m planning to be in Minnesota for a long time.”
It’s 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.
“I think their owner would trade management/the coach before he would trade Karl-Anthony Towns,” Wojnarowski said. “I don’t think they would allow that. I just don’t believe they’d allow that kind of decision. And I don’t know that they’d want to trade him. To answer this first, Minnesota’s bigger issue is not…he’s Karl-Anthony Towns, they’re not moving him, Towns is eligible for his extension this summer. You know Jimmy Butler…it’s more of a question of Andrew Wiggins. That to me would be, if someone was going to get moved — and I’m not saying anyone’s going to get moved — I think Andrew Wiggins is the one you’re going to look at first. Because…you don’t have to make a decision on Towns and Jimmy Butler and one of those guys having to take less on an extension, because you can’t have three [max] guys.”
Brian Windhorst: They recently fired Vince Legarza, who’s his strength-and-conditioning coach or he’s actually his workout coach with the Wolves and, according to The Athletic, didn’t tell him about it. He found out when everybody else did. I don’t think that the Wolves are looking to trade him, but teams are definitely sniffing around as if maybe there’s something here. They’ve already taken some calls on him. This is not new. Blake Griffin, the Clippers called and offered Blake Griffin for him. They’re 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: “Let’s just put it this way: I didn’t make this up. People in the league have been saying, “You know, maybe we should call and take a look and see what’s going on with Karl Towns.” Now, he and Tom Thibodeau did not have the greatest season together. I think that’s far to say.
Zach LaVine: @DevinBook @KarlTowns 😏👍🏽
Rachel Nichols: #NBATwitter is basically Inception and I am here for it.
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 didn’t 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 would’ve 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 Minnesota’s president of basketball operations, now sounds as committed as anyone in the franchise to his young trio. Outside the organization, executives wonder about Minnesota’s 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. “I love our core three guys, and what I love most is their work ethic, their dedication to work,” Thibodeau said. “They understand the level we need to reach, particularly defensively, and their work shows that they will work to get it right. We understand that it’s going to take some time and we need to work at it each and every day.”
It is unclear whether the Miami Heat have the assets to swing a deal for one of Minnesota’s three young studs, and it’s surprising that the Timberwolves are reportedly willing to move any of them so early in the season. In any case, whether the T’wolves 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.
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April 21, 2021 | 9:01 pm EDT Update
Marc Stein: Two more injury updates (unfortunately): The Raptors say Chris Boucher (left knee sprain) will not return against Brooklyn. The Wizards say Deni Avdija (right ankle injury) is out for the rest of the game against Golden State.
The Blazers had arranged for Powell to rent the vacant house of former player Kent Bazemore, located on the banks of Lake Oswego. And inside the home, Powell found it was stocked with all his favorite necessities, from a California King size bed and big screen TV, right down to the lavender-scented laundry detergent and Welch’s Berries-N-Cherries fruit snacks. The organization even arranged for a service to drive his two Pomeranian Huskies — Apollo and Odin — from Tampa to Portland. Waiting for them were dog beds filled with toys. “It was amazing,” Powell said. “And I mean, AMAZING. They went all out. They did everything you can think of to make sure that I’m comfortable.”
Much of the personal detail was made with Powell’s impending free agency this summer in mind. “We have a very brief time to make a strong and lasting impression on Norman,” said Neil Olshey, the Blazers’ president of basketball operations. “That doesn’t just mean on the basketball court, but also for life off the court for himself and his family.”
Not a day went by, it seemed, that Raymond wasn’t molding Norman through his actions or his words. Norman remembers pouting one day: he felt his mother didn’t live up to an agreement to give him a reward for completing a task. As he complained, Norman kept repeating “she owes me.” Raymond set him straight. “He told me, ‘Your mother doesn’t owe you anything. She gave you life and makes sure you have food on the table and your needs are met. She doesn’t owe you; you owe her everything,’” Norman recalls. “He always found different moments in my life to instill what my mindset should be.”
Mostly, though, Raymond sparked Norman’s love for basketball, and more importantly, the need to work at the craft. They watched Lakers games together, and when Norman began to separate himself as exceptional in youth basketball, Raymond gave him a nickname. “I remember always watching games with him, and he told me I would be one of those players who would be called upon to make big shots,” Norman said. “That’s where my nickname ‘Big Shot Powell’ came from. I think he got it from Chauncey Billups. But he’s the reason why I started playing basketball the way I did, the reason why I believed in myself that I could get to that (NBA) level.”