In a league where star players have more power than ever, the Minnesota Timberwolves’ number-one priority going forward should be keeping its star satisfied.
“Karl-Anthony Towns wants to win basketball games more than he cares about numbers,” stated Minnesota Timberwolves play-by-play announcer Dave Benz during the closing minutes of the Wolves’ recent disappointing loss in Orlando.
The ominous statement came in the wake of a trade deadline that promised blockbuster trades, involving unsatisfied players. While the blockbuster trades never came, a wind of restlessness is no less waving over the NBA’s elite who are hungry for a title.
“I don’t know how long I’m gonna play this game. People’s careers are short. And I feel like it’s my time to move,” Anthony Davis told reporters last week. Kyrie Irving was a little more reticent when asked about rumors about wanting to leave Boston, saying “Ask me July 1st.”
However, Anthony Davis’ all-in gamble to get out of New Orleans was all for naught, as trade talks between the Pelicans and Lakers deteriorated (possibly because the Big Baller himself, LaVar Ball, who emerged from a six-month media coma to say he doesn’t want his son Lonzo in New Orleans). Now Davis will be counting down his days in NOLA, like the high school star who everyone knows is moving to a private school that recruits players next year.
Well, where am I going with all this?
To take Kendrick Lamar lyrics waaaay out of context: Respect the KAT.
The Wolves need to respect their star if they want to keep him in Minnesota. Even though Towns just signed a five-year deal before the start of the season, a trade demand is not impossible. Kristaps Porzingis didn’t even graduate from his rookie-scale contract before asking out of New York.
Trade demands happen, especially in a league where players have more power than ever. Losses like the ones in Orlando and New Orleans last night add up if they keep happening over time.
Now I don’t want to sit here and stir fans into thinking KAT’s going to be looking for his next chance to leave after another loss, but I do think the front office should start working on ways to keep the two-time All-Star satisfied.
He’s third in the league in double-doubles this season behind Rudy Gobert and Nikola Jokic and is spending his third-straight season in the top 10 of Win Shares around the league.
To build a playoff contending team, the Wolves simply need more scorers. Andrew Wiggins is inconsistent and Josh Okogie rarely does anything impactful on the offensive end. Moving forward, Minnesota needs better night-to-night production from those two in order to win games.
There’s been plenty of speculation over who the Wolves can add to build a contending team, and reportedly, the team has had little interest in offers for Wiggins at the deadline. This is good news to have come from the front office. Wiggins is still a young player at 23 and still has time to regain his momentum he had coming out of college.
It’s also better to wait for the right trade than to jump the gun on a lousy bench player and a draft pick.
But every day it’s looking more like the scorer Wiggins could be is fading away. The performance Terrence Ross put up at the other end of the court in the Orlando loss highlighted everything the Wolves lacked — a fiery playmaker that can take the ball into his own hands and make space anywhere in the key.
For the Wolves to keep KAT happy, they need to get more players like that into the fold.