Knicks could look to trade $221 million big man, but it would be a huge mistake

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at San Antonio Spurs, knicks
Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to the New York Knicks and head coach Tom Thibodeau, there’s always been a tangible connection with Minnesota Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns. Having previously coached in Minnesota, Thibodeau’s existing rapport with Towns suggests a potential synergy, but whether Towns would be a good fit for the Knicks remains questionable.

As the off-season approaches, and if Minnesota considers offloading Towns following an All-Star season—marked by a 41.6% success rate from beyond the arc—the Knicks might see him as a valuable acquisition.

Karl-Anthony Towns boasted averages of 21.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, and three assists last season, complemented by a .504 shooting percentage from the field and a .575 effective field goal percentage. While there’s no doubt about Towns’ offensive prowess, the debate intensifies when comparing him to Julius Randle.

Should the Knicks pursue Towns, it would likely necessitate offloading Randle, an All-NBA player and a formidable power forward. Yet, one anonymous NBA executive hinted at the Knicks’ potential interest via “That team (the Timberwolves) is in flux. They want to keep building off what they did this year, but just can’t afford it. So I would think it is 100% expected that if they move on from him when the dust settles, the Knicks are going to be there.”

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Knicks’ Financial Decisions and Off-season Targets

Towns is on the brink of a four-year, $221 million designated veteran extension, which will impose a $49.35 million cap hit for the 2024–25 season at age 29. His salary escalates annually, reaching up to $61.2 million by 2027. In contrast, Randle’s more palatable four-year, $117 million contract expires after the 2025–26 season, with a $30.1 million option, costing $28.9 million next season at age 30—a significant savings compared to Towns’ contract.

The strategic financial and performance comparison between Randle and Towns leans in favor of the more cost-effective Randle, particularly given their similar contributions to their teams. Randle, when healthy, has proven to be a significant asset, especially during the postseason—a stark contrast to Towns, who struggled notably against the Dallas Mavericks in the playoffs.

The Knicks, therefore, might find it prudent to stick with Randle rather than pursue a high-cost acquisition like Towns, especially considering the financial implications and the potential for regression with Towns’ massive future salaries.

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