It would be far from easy, but there's a world in which the Minnesota Timberwolves could maneuver themselves into a position to add Anthony Davis.
The Minnesota Timberwolves wasted Kevin Garnett's prime with seven consecutive first-round exits, and they are no doubt motivated to not repeat that same mistake with Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell.
Signing Anthony Davis would make them immediate title contenders for years to come.
The Minnesota Timberwolves will not be part of the 22 teams invited to Walt Disney World in Orlando when the NBA resumes play in late July. This is a pivotal summer, and particularly for D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns, who are both top talents in the league but haven't exactly done a lot of winning.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Could the Wolves sign Anthony Davis?
The Wolves can continue with a similar roster and waste the prime years of Russell and KAT just like they did with Garnett, or can they can go out and sign a big fish to solidify the organization as perennial title contenders for the foreseeable future.
Davis is one of the best players in the league and is already putting together a Hall of Fame career. If the Los Angeles Lakers go on to win the NBA title this year, AD will get the coveted ring. More importantly, Davis will have learned how to win and would bring that leadership that has been sorely lacking to the Twin Cities.
Bring in Anthony Davis.
How the Wolves could make space to sign Anthony Davis
So, how could the Wolves do this from a salary perspective? It won't be easy, but they should be able to do it.
First, Davis would have to decline to pick up his player option in the offseason, which appears to be his plan. As a 27-year-old superstar, he's in a position to sign a longer-term deal at an even greater average annual value, and while he appears ready to do that in L.A., nothing is final until it's final.
For the Wolves part, they have eight guaranteed contracts and three (Jarred Vanderbilt, Jaylen Nowell, and Naz Reid) that are partially guaranteed. James Johnson has a player option. Minnesota will have to buy out the three partial guarantees, which isn't far-fetched.
The tricky part is Johnson, who in all likelihood will opt into his contract. Should this occur, the Wolves would need to rely on a potential amnesty Johnson to clear his salary from the books. It's apparently being discussed as part of the league's unique offseason leading into the 2020-21 campaign, and unless Johnson doesn't pick up his option, the Wolves could really only make a Davis signing work by using a potential amnesty clause.
The above moves would free up approximately $30 million to bring in AD. Russell and KAT are under contract for three and four more years, respectively, and all three would be in the prime of their careers.
Why would Anthony Davis sign with the Wolves?
Why would Davis come to Minnesota? To play with great teammates, of course. Russell, KAT and AD would make the Wolves an immediate title contender.
Russell is a dynamic point guard who can score (21.8 points per game over the past two seasons) while getting his teammates involved (6.7 assists per game over that same span). The former second-overall pick was an All-Star last year with the Brooklyn Nets and has shown glimpses of being a cornerstone player.
Towns averaged 26.5 points per game while making 41.2 percent from the three this past season. Both he and Russell have a tendency to lapse on defense, of course, but AD won’t let Russell and KAT slack on defense. Leaders lead by example, and AD consistently ranks in the top five in Defensive Player of the Year voting. It's hard to argue against averages of 2.4 blocks and 9.4 rebounds per game.
Offensively, Davis shoots 51.1 percent from the field and 84.5 percent from the free throw line. Pairing Towns and Davis would be reminiscent of Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson, except KAT and AD both can stretch the defense as they combined to take over 11 shots from long distance per game in 2019-20. They could easily dominate on the low block, and on defense, nothing would come easily in the paint.
Staying in Los Angeles doesn’t make a ton of sense for AD. Let’s face it, playing on the Lakers with LeBron James means AD is the sidekick. Just like it happened to Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade, Davis becomes the Robin to LeBron’s Batman.
Plus, this Lakers team is not getting any younger. LeBron could likely be great even when he turns 50, but the same cannot be said for starters JaVale McGee, Avery Bradley, and Danny Green, who are already all over 32. The biggest difference between the 37-win Lakers from a year ago and this year's top-seeded edition is Anthony Davis; he's definitely made his impact felt.
If Davis wants to lead a young, talented team, the Wolves have a solid roster to make it happen now. AD, KAT and Russell, surrounded by a bunch of complementary pieces, would make the Minnesota Timberwolves an instant contender.