Grade the Trade: Timberwolves flip big man for LA superstar in new blockbuster pitch

The Minnesota Timberwolves were not quite good enough to win it all this season. Could this blockbuster trade push them over the top, or is it too wild to make?
Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert, Minnesota Timberwolves
Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert, Minnesota Timberwolves / Stephen Maturen/GettyImages
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Laying out a blockbuster trade

Some salary amounts in the NBA are directly dictated by the size of the salary cap, and that means that they match up directly with other players who signed the same level of contract. Anthony Edwards, for example, is on a Rose Rule maximum rookie extension, so his contract will start at $42.3 million next season, exactly the same to the dollar as Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton, who also made All-NBA this year to trigger that amount.

That brings us back to Karl-Anthony Towns, who will make $49.35 million this season in the first year of his new supermax deal this season. That figure is calculated as 35 percent of the $141 million salary cap, and there will be three other players making that same amount: Devin Booker, Jaylen Brown, and Kawhi Leonard.

The Timberwolves don't have the draft assets to attach to Karl-Anthony Towns to even come to the table about a Jaylen Brown or Devin Booker deal, but what about Kawhi Leonard? Could the LA Clippers be enticed to come to the table?

With both teams above the second tax apron, this deal would be as simple as it gets:

KAT for Kawhi

The Clippers have an outside shot at a title each and every season because Kawhi Leonard is a Top 5 player when fully healthy. Alas, that label applies to Leonard infrequently, and he hasn't been healthy for a full postseason in years. It's impossible to consistently field a contender when your best player is consistently on the shelf for the biggest moments.

Trading for Karl-Anthony Towns would mean adding a player with a much better health track record, and even though he missed time down the stretch to injury this year he made it back for the playoffs and played in each postseason game. If Paul George and James Harden know their star teammate is one likely to be out there on the court when it matters then they may be more likely to re-sign with the Clippers. Towns is also younger and has better off-ball gravity than Leonard.

Let's assume that the Clippers talk themselves into this deal; do the Timberwolves say yes to this deal? Let's dig into the details.