Wolves musical chairs competition set for the 2023-24 NBA season

Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Timberwolves have done the next-to-impossible. Despite investing a huge portion of the team’s payroll into the careers of center Rudy Gobert and center/power forward Karl-Anthony Towns, the Timberwolves have managed to find the means to extend backup center Naz Reid as well. Now, the team has one of, if not the most expensive frontcourts in the NBA. Will the team get their money’s worth?

If this was a Ronco product, with the motto of just “Set it and forget it,” the Minnesota Timberwolves could be in for some real financial trouble. But there is a method to the madness behind the Timberwolves’ scheming and strategy, and the best way to describe that strategy is to talk about musical chairs.


Focus on finances first

What I mean is that, while the Timberwolves have agreed to make three of their big players incredibly wealthy in the future, that does not mean that it will be the Timberwolves who necessarily cut those checks.  Let’s break down what the salaries are for the Timberwolves Big 3 for the foreseeable future:

  • Name                               2023-24               2024-25                    2025-26
  • Rudy Gobert                   $41 million          $43.83 million          $46.7 million
  • Karl-Anthony Towns    $36.02 million    $53.36 million          $56.5 million
  • Naz Reid                          $12.95 million    $13.99 million          $15.0 million
  • Totals                                $90 million         $111 million             $118 million

As you can see, the team has placed a lot of wealth and resources into the hands of three players. The question is, are all three worth it? In some regards, that is what the Minnesota Timberwolves want to find out.

As much as the Timberwolves invested in pairing Rudy Gobert up with Karl-Anthony Towns in the 2022-23 NBA season, the fact that the team could only manage 29 games from Towns through the entire season left the sample size far too small. Meanwhile, the cold shoulder reception given to Rudy Gobert by former PG D’Angelo Russell hindered getting Gobert on track as well.

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May the best big win

This year, Towns is healthy, and Gobert will be teamed up with his former Jazz teammate at point guard, Mike Conley Jr. So the question is, which of the two veteran NBA stars will reclaim their former selves? The performances of both Gobert and Towns this season will play a huge part in how the team resets the Timberwolves roster for the 2024-25 NBA season.

Timberwolves President Tim Connelly knows that he cannot continue to pay both Gobert and Towns at their scheduled pace and maintain a healthy, balanced, and competitive NBA roster. And so, the Timberwolves may have a decision to make at the 2024 NBA Trade Deadline. That is, which of their two veteran bigs is not competing as effectively as expected?

While the Timberwolves had little interest in parting ways with any core player after such a chaotic 2022-23 NBA season, the team also has no desire to pay over $100 million in the 2024-25 NBA to Gobert/Towns if they are not as effective together on the basketball court as expected. And with a much less expensive option in Naz Reid contracted for the next three seasons, the team will not be held for ransom.

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Even now, the question of how the Timberwolves will address their roster in the future has become a bit easier. The hope is that both Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns return to their dominating form. But if not? Well, the Timberwolves have a musical chairs competition already in place.  Now the question is, which of the two highly paid bigs will be sitting on the Timberwolves roster for the 2024-25 NBA season?