With rumors swirling around about the unhappiness of Karl-Anthony Towns, NBA teams will be calling the Minnesota Timberwolves with trade offers. Here's what those offers will look like.
It's hard to imagine anyone in Minnesota is happy with their recent stretch of play, and that includes Towns as he's been watching on the sidelines while nursing a knee injury.
The Timberwolves know they need to win in order to keep KAT in Minnesota. Even though he is currently in the first year of a five year deal, we've seen multiple examples of stars forcing their way out of town over the past few years regardless of their contractual obligations.
While the Wolves certainly aren't ready to trade their franchise cornerstone just a couple of months into this new era of Minnesota basketball, Gersson Rosa's phone will be ringing from now until the trade deadline with inquiries about Towns' availability.
Those potential trade offers would have to be pretty substantial for Rosas to listen to them, but he needs to consider every opportunity otherwise he's not doing his job.
In this article, I try to predict what those type of offers will look like as the NBA trade season heats up.
Golden State Warriors
Minnesota Timberwolves fans were dreaming of pairing D'Angelo Russell with Karl-Anthony Towns this offseason when it looked like he was going to be their point guard of the future, but Golden State swooped in and acquired him in an unforeseen sign-and-trade this summer.
The Warriors currently have Russell on a four-year, $117.3 million contract which kicked in this year. Russell and Towns have an identical $27.285 million salary for this season, which means they can be swapped straight up. And with each team's complicated salary cap situations, that would be the easiest deal to make.
Golden State would obviously have to fork over some draft compensation to get Minnesota to trade away a superior player. Considering that the Warriors could potentially be a juggernaut again after this hypothetical trade and be selecting late in the draft, it would take at least three first rounders to get a deal done.
The Warriors' reported interest in a frustrated Karl-Anthony Towns (subscription required) is what caused me to write this article, so it sounds like they would be willing to give up something of value to get him.
Getting another All-Star player in return would soften the blow for the Wolves, and it helps that Russell is under team control through the 2022-23 season. Minnesota fans could even get excited about the pairing of Russell and Wiggins while they have a treasure chest of draft picks.
If worse comes to worst and KAT forces his way out of Minnesota, this wouldn't be a terrible move for the franchise.
New York Knicks
An Ian Begley report that the Knicks were monitoring Karl-Anthony Towns' status was our first sign that Towns may be frustrated in Minnesota, even though many didn't take that interest seriously because the Knicks are in a constant state of disarray.
However, where there's smoke there is fire, and the report that the Warriors are also keeping a close eye on KAT let us know that there is some real chatter about this situation among league executives.
The Knicks aren't a terrible trade partner if the Wolves are forced to send Towns packing.
They have a bunch of short-term contracts to match KAT's salary without tying up the Wolves' long-term money, they got a couple of first round picks from Dallas in the Kristaps Porzingis deal, and there's a good chance that they will continue to find ways to lose games so their own picks will have some value in the future.
Since Julius Randle and Marcus Morris won't factor into Minnesota's future plans, the Knicks would have to give up an unprecedented amount of draft capital to get a deal done. Considering Towns is under contract for the next five seasons, I think it would probably take six first round picks to get the Wolves to pick up the phone.
Even then, Minnesota would be looking at a full rebuild yet again, which would be hard to sell to their fanbase.
This deal would set the Wolves back much farther than the Warriors trade would, and I think it's significantly less realistic.
Oklahoma City Thunder
It would be pretty rare for division rivals to do business together, but Gersson Rosas and Sam Presti seem like executives who would put that rivalry aside if it's best for their team even if they'll have to face off many times each year.
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This trade package is pretty interesting considering it would allow the Wolves to remain competitive in the present while also adding a promising piece for the future.
Taking on the final two years of Steven Adams' four-year, $100 million contract is not ideal, but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has taken an impressive leap in year two showing plenty of potential to become a perennial All-Star. And SGA is a great value on his rookie contract.
The Thunder also have a ton of first round picks at their disposal after trading away Paul George and Russell Westbrook this offseason, so they would probably like to cash in a few of them for a superstar like Karl-Anthony Towns.
I think it would take three first round picks along with SGA to get a deal done considering that Adams' contract is pretty bad money to take on.
This is another deal that could leave Wolves fans feeling hopeful for the future even if their All-Star center decides he wants out of Minnesota.