Knicks could have added 3x All-Star big man via trade

karl anthony-towns, knicks
Mar 26, 2023; San Francisco, California, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) celebrates after making a three point basket in the last few seconds of the game against the Golden State Warriors during the fourth quarter at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks continue their search for a third star to join forces with Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle. The team’s recent consideration of Karl-Anthony Towns from the Minnesota Timberwolves could have provided an answer.

Assessing Towns’ Fit with the Knicks

Towns, having previously played under coach Tom Thibodeau, is well-versed in the expectations for starters in his rotation. However, the Knicks opted not to pursue this path, considering Towns’ substantial contract and inconsistencies.

Despite his three All-Star appearances, Towns has only played over 70 games once since 2018. His most recent season saw him participate in 29 games at age 27. His averages stood at 20.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 4.8 assists, with a .495 field goal percentage and a .366% hit rate from three-point territory.

While Towns has proven himself to be one of the most potent scorers in the NBA when fit, his persistent health concerns dissuade the Knicks from taking a gamble on his durability.

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Knicks’ Pre-Draft Consideration for Towns

The Knicks’ interest in Towns surfaced during discussions ahead of the draft, largely due to their past association.

Ian Begley of SNY, speaking on The Lowe Post Podcast, said, “There were talks between the Timberwolves and other teams before the draft and Towns’ name came up. I don’t know how aggressive the Timberwolves were with Towns, if at all, but the Knicks could have gone there as well and they clearly have decided not to go there at this point.”

The Financial Implications of Acquiring Towns

Towns is set to enter the final year of a five-year, $158.2 million deal, earning him $36 million. His upcoming contract spans four years and amounts to $234.5 million. This deal will result in an annual payment exceeding $52 million for the following three seasons, with a player option for the 2027–28 season at $64.9 million.

While Towns was once arguably the best big man in the game, his health issues have undermined his career thus far. The prospect of absorbing such a hefty salary is unappealing for the Knicks, who lack the necessary financial flexibility.

The team’s optimal strategy involves identifying an emerging player heading towards a significant deal, as opposed to committing to a substantial contract tied to an aging player.

Leon Rose’s Stance on Trade Talks

President Leon Rose’s approach to the Paul George trade discussions illustrates this perspective. George’s desire for an extension and the Los Angeles Clippers’ request for a significant return led Rose to abandon the talks.

Ultimately, the Knicks’ primary goal is to maximize their championship window with Brunson leading the charge. Any deal requiring substantial trade-offs is deemed excessive.