Roughly a year after going all-in on the two bigs system, headlined by Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert, could the Minnesota Timberwolves be on the verge of admitting their mistake? While Towns and Gobert didn’t get to share very much floor time together, with KAT missing 53 games this season, we also didn’t see enough to come away overly impressed with the pairing.
The future in Minnesota centers around Anthony Edwards, so other valued pieces, such as Towns, Gobert, and anyone else not named Jaden McDaniels, could likely be had for the right price this offseason. Even if the Wolves never officially place Towns on the trade block, several teams will likely call about one of the sweetest-shooting bigs in basketball this summer.
But the T-Wolves won’t just give away their former No. 1 overall pick for pennies. They have no reason to blow up the roster this offseason, especially considering the top brass likely feels like they didn’t get a large enough sample size with their starting five, especially after D’Angelo Russell was swapped for Mike Conley ahead of the trade deadline.
Yet, the sharks will be circling the waters this offseason, trying to pull star players into their wake, so Towns’ name is sure to circulate in trade rumors all summer long.
But there’s a very important factor to keep in mind when considering any potential KAT trade. Since he recently signed a new contract, Towns cannot be traded until at least July 7, or 15 days after the NBA draft has occurred. This means the Timberwolves likely won’t be seeking 2023 draft picks as the centerpiece of any trade and will be looking for win-now pieces to surround Ant with. But which teams can offer such a trade package for Towns?
Related: NBA mock draft 2023: Projecting all 58 picks
Minnesota Timberwolves swing trade with Wizards
- Minnesota Timberwolves trade: Towns
- Washington Wizards trade: Kristaps Porzingis, 8th overall pick
If the Wizards emerge as a contender for a potential KAT trade, it would place the New Jersey native back on the east coast, closer to home, while still pairing him with a lethal scoring threat in Bradley Beal. This gives Towns a chance to compete for a playoff spot in the East while ensuring Washington has an All-Star to pair with Beal through 2027.
Meanwhile, Minnesota swaps Towns for another excellent perimeter scorer who also rebounds and defends well. But, barring an extension this offseason, he’ll be entering the final year of his contract, which carries some risk.
- Karl-Anthony Towns’ contract: $36M in 2023, $50M in 2024, signed through 2028
The Wizards may not want to part with the eighth pick unless they can guarantee a chance to be much-improved in 2023. We’re not sure this trade moves the needle enough for Washington in the immediate future, but perhaps changing the pick to a future selection can make this deal work.
Related: Minnesota Timberwolves GM states obvious: Every decision we make centers around Anthony Edwards
Timberwolves, Raptors swap bigs
- Timberwolves trade: Towns
- Toronto Raptors trade: Pascal Siakam, 13th overall pick
The Raptors are a team that has gone stagnant since Kawhi Leonard left town. Having allowed the fourth-fewest points per game, the Raptors are still stout defensively, but they could use a scoring punch. Perhaps swapping Spicy P for the offensive-minded Towns can help balance the scales in Toronto. Instead of having the inefficient Siakam be the team’s leading shot-taker with his career eFG% of .521, they’d have Towns and his .577 rate operating at a much higher level.
- Karl-Anthony Towns’ stats last season: 20.8 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 4.8 APG, 36% 3PT
In Minnesota, swapping Towns for Siakam ensures the team won’t drop off defensively or on the glass. He also brings another scoring threat. While not as good of a shooter as Towns, Siakam is still in the next tier of best scoring bigs in the NBA, and, like KAT, he’s a plus passer.
The reason the Wolves also get the 13th pick here is because Siakam, 29, is two years older than Towns and is about to enter the final year of his contract, making him a flight risk in Minnesota.
Related: NBA playoff predictions: Bracket picks & 2023 Finals champion
KAT heads home to Big Apple
- Timberwolves trade: Towns
- New York Knicks trade: Julius Randle, Immanuel Quickley
The Knicks appear set on bringing another All-Star to the Big Apple, but Randle and Towns don’t exactly mesh together. While the former Kentucky bigs likely get along fine off the court, on the court, they have similar skill sets as scoring threats who don’t always give you the best effort defensively. Randle is a year older than Towns and isn’t nearly the same shooter as the Timberwolves’ forward. But KAT would bring more size and perimeter scoring to a team that needs to improve its spacing.
The Timberwolves don’t necessarily need to make this trade, and neither do the Knicks, but shedding Towns from the payroll for Randle brings in a similar scoring/rebounding threat at roughly half the price of Towns ($30M compared to $50M in 2024). This additional salary could be helpful when it comes time to pay Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels. Plus, getting another point guard for a team that has little depth behind 35-year-old Mike Conley could make this offer enticing for Minnesota.
Related: NBA MVP race 2023-24: Top MVP candidates as Joel Embiid defends his crown
Towns takes talent to Houston
- Timberwolves trade: Towns
- Houston Rockets trade: Jabari Smith Jr., TyTy Washington
Are the Rockets ready to launch the No. 2 overall pick from the 2022 NBA Draft from the roster already? Probably not, but Houston’s sense of urgency may skyrocket with coach Ime Udoka on board plus a roster set to take a leap forward in the near future. Holding the fourth pick in June, the Rockets will be adding another young, blue-chip talent soon enough.
- Karl-Anthony Towns’ career stats: 23 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.3 BPG, 39% 3PT
We didn’t see enough from the 20-year-old Smith in his rookie season, but teams will still be high on the former Auburn star’s upside. The Timberwolves may be one of those teams, seeing the value of adding a top-ranked player at a fraction of the cost of their current one. A year ago, we were looking at Smith as a potential No. 1 overall pick. Now, he could join someone who actually was the top pick with Ant in Minnesota. Getting Washington too gives the Wolves a young guard who could someday grow into the starting role after Conley moves on.
Related: Top 2023 NBA free agents: Best 100 available with positional breakdowns
Timberwolves swap Karl-Anthony Towns for Kyrie Irving
- Timberwolves trade: Towns
- Dallas Mavericks trade: Kyrie Irving (sign and trade)
The only way this works is if the Mavericks and Timberwolves agree to a sign-and-trade for Irving, who’s set for free agency this summer. Irving already tried life in Dallas for a bit, and it’s possible he’s set to return, but no matter what, the Mavs don’t want to risk losing another All-Star for nothing. If it comes down to it, we could see them try and swap Irving for a skilled scoring big like Towns who should operate well with Luka Doncic in the pick-and-roll, much like he does with Edwards in the Twin Cities.
Doncic has never played with a player of Towns’ caliber for a full season, and adding the legit seven-footer brings much-needed size to the Mavs’ frontcourt. They have their scoring/distributing threat with Doncic who keeps defenses honest at all times, and they’d now have their athletic big capable of stretching the floor and pulling down boards.
Minnesota would be getting the best point guard in franchise history with Irving. He knows the game as well as anyone and is regarded as one of the best dribbles of all time, keeping the ball on a string like a yo-yo. Offensively, he’d be an ideal threat next to Edwards, capable of taking lead ballhandling duties while being able to operate off the ball when it’s the young wolf’s time to shine. They’d form one of the most lethal backcourts in basketball. But, if given the chance to play in L.A. or Minnesota, does anyone really believe Irving would choose the Land of 10,000 frozen lakes?
Related: NBA Power Rankings: Denver Nuggets rise to top spot for first time in ’22-’23