When the Minnesota Timberwolves entered the 2023 NBA offseason, the consensus of many NBA analysts and pundits pointed to the Timberwolves’ efforts to re-sign Naz Reid as the litmus test to the future of Karl-Anthony Towns with the team. In essence, extending Naz Reid would be a bad omen for Towns and his future with the team.
The thinking was that the Timberwolves are cash-strapped, and extending Reid to an already deep center position would act like a wind vane, giving away the direction and the urgency of the team’s dealing with Towns this off-season as well. The Timberwolves, so the logic portended, cannot afford to pay for Rudy Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Naz Reid at their current salary projections, and still have enough wiggle room to build a competitive roster around them.
Thankfully, the Timberwolves found some relief this season in a higher-than-expected salary cap. The surprising elevation for the 2023-24 NBA salary cap allows the Timberwolves to make all necessary roster moves and still remain just below the luxury tax. But the cap only covers this season, and the Timberwolves face a 2024-24 NBA season where Karl-Anthony Towns is due to jump to a Super Max contract.
Timberwolves currency conundrum
When that happens, the Timberwolves will need to purge their roster to afford Towns, Gobert, and Reid, or make a roster move that could very likely involve trading away Karl-Anthony Towns. Some are already lobbying hard for the Timberwolves to make that trade now:
The problem with any ‘Trade him,’ demand by fans and spectators is the fact that the Minnesota Timberwolves must identify and engage a trade partner who values Karl-Anthony Towns at least as must as the Timberwolves do, and be willing to trade fair market value for him. Early feedback on this proposed trade scenario of Towns to the Memphis Grizzlies has gotten plenty of thumbs down already, from Timberwolves fans, even as the Timberwolves get a 2028 NBA Draft first-round pick in the exchange.
That completely omits the protests of the Memphis Grizzlies fans, who wonder why their team would have any interest in trading for a guy who could only suit up for 29 games during the 2022-23 NBA season.
Blockbuster trades, such as any trade by the Minnesota Timberwolves to part ways with Karl-Anthony Towns, simply do not come together easily. In fact, it could take several years of two teams feeling one another out before a trade package is finally met with approval. Right now, as much as some fans would love for something ‘big’ to happen, there is no corresponding team who is a motivated trade partner for Towns in the mix.
Something could develop at the 2024 NBA Trade Deadline. That is when many NBA teams who are fighting for an NBA Playoff berth push very hard to make a deal that will put them over the hump and in line to compete in postseason play.