Knicks quietly add people close to Karl-Anthony Towns in Minnesota

Barring any contract extensions, Karl-Anthony Towns, along with Devin Booker, will be the biggest headliner in the 2024 free agency.

This early, it seems the New York Knicks‘ long play is geared towards pairing them in the biggest NBA market.

As if Leon Rose (Towns’ former agent) and Kenny Payne (Towns’ coach in Kentucky) are not enough, the Knicks have quietly added two more people known with close ties to Towns in Minnesota — Kaalya Chones and Gersson Rosas.

“The note about the Knicks that I initially intended to feature in this week’s around-the-league notes was how Rosas’ arrival, in addition to the presence of Kaalya Chones in player development, would double the organization’s quotient of Timberwolves alumni known to have a strong working relationship with Karl-Anthony Towns,” NBA insider Marc Stein wrote in his Sunday newsletter.

The Knicks hired Chones in November last year while Rosas joined the recent Knicks’ Western Conference trip. Chones was the Timberwolves director of player programs from 2013 to 2019, and Rosas served as the team’s president from 2019 until before the training camp last year.

Based on Towns’ reaction to Rosas’ firing last November, there seems to be a strong bond formed during their two years working together.

After this season, Towns has two years remaining on his five-year supermax extension, which Tom Thibodeau gave him when he was still the concurrent Timberwolves coach and team president in 2018.

The reported rift between Towns and Thibodeau, which hastened Thibodeau’s abrupt departure from Minnesota, has simmered down over the last two years following the death of Towns’ mother due to COVID-19.

“I remember, after we played the Knicks (last season), pulling Thibs to the side,” Towns recalled in a story by The Athletic last month. “I said, ‘I just want to let you know I forgive you.’ There’s not bad blood. One day let’s just go get dinner. Let’s just chill. We don’t have to worry about the business side. Let’s just work on our relationship.”

In the second year of a five-year coaching deal with the Knicks, Thibodeau is reportedly on the hot seat following the team’s dispiriting performance this season. But that’s another story.

As currently constructed, the Knicks would have a clean book for the 2024 free agency. Only Julius Randle ($27.5 million) and rookie Quentin Grimes ($4.29 million) have guaranteed salaries in 2024. However, RJ Barrett is expected to be extended while their slew of young players will have their rookie deals expire before 2024.

In his seventh season, Towns solidified his status as the top shooting big man in the league by winning the NBA All-Star 3-point contest via record-breaking 29 points in the final round.

Towns, a New Jersey native, is leading the Timberwolves’ pursuit for their first playoff appearance since the Thibodeau era averaging 24.4 points, 9.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.0 steal, and 1.1 blocks while shooting 52 percent from the field and 41 percent from deep. Their 31-28 record is currently seventh in the Western Conference and 2.5 games behind the Denver Nuggets.

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