Knicks reportedly not pursuing Timberwolves’ All-Star center

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at New York Knicks
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Since last offseason, the New York Knicks have been deemed a top destination for Minnesota Timberwolves star center Karl-Anthony Towns in the event he is put on the trade block.

Despite the Wolves’ strong season in 2024 in which they made the Western Conference Finals for the first time in two decades, Towns’ name continues to appear in trade rumors. However, as Fred Katz of The Athletic reports, the Knicks’ level of interest in the seven-foot center is not substantial.

“The Knicks have always had an eye on Towns, though this front office has never engaged in serious trade negotiations for him, according to league sources,” Katz wrote. “He’s a CAA client, one of the most-skilled offensive bigs ever to touch a basketball and though he had a complicated relationship with Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau back when Thibodeau coached him in Minnesota, there are people around the coach who believe the two have reconciled and would work well together now (though you never know until you see it in person).”

Despite the great success from last season, the Timberwolves are in a tough financial situation

Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) drives to the basket against New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (23) during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The idea of Towns being shipped out of Minnesota only really makes sense from a financial standpoint. Though the Wolves likely see a potential championship core around Towns, Anthony Edwards, and Rudy Gobert, their money situation becomes daunting next season, and they may need to shed some salary in order to still have the flexibility to add to a talented roster.

However, that would also mean that the Knicks (and other teams interested) would have to be willing to take on Towns’ large salary, and Katz’ report is indicative that New York is hesitant to unload a ton of assets for a player that will handcuff their financial flexibility for potential moves later on.

Towns, 28, has an astronomical contract extension that kicks in at the start of next season. The contract is a four-year, $221 million deal that is also an ascending deal in terms of annual value. He will be making $49.3 million next season and by 2027 that figure will jump to $61.1 million. As of today, he is projected to be the 10th-highest-paid player in the entire NBA next season, according to HoopsHype.

The Knicks have important financial decisions to make this summer

May 19, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein (55) reacts during the third quarter of game seven of the second round of the 2024 NBA playoffs against the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

In comparison, as of today, the Knicks are projected to pay a combined salary of $53.9 million for their All-Star duo in Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle. Now, it is likely that those extremely team-friendly deals will become more expensive as both are extension-eligible this summer, but it demonstrates the harsh business of the NBA that comes with handing out a massive contract to one player.

The Knicks also have two free agents who are about to receive massive pay-days in OG Anunoby and Isaiah Hartenstein, both of which they are hopeful will return to the team after seeing the high potential a healthy roster posed last season.

Those two players are the Knicks’ main priorities this summer, and by signing them to large contracts they will need to shed some salary themselves to avoid going over the luxury tax. Even if they fail to bring at least one of them back, they still have the Brunson and Randle extensions to handle.

Towns is a gifted player, but is it worth taking on the massive contract?

karl anthony-towns, knicks

There’s no denying Towns’ skillset, as his offensive ability is one of the best at his position ever. However, he has dealt with a couple of major lower-body injuries in the past two seasons. This past season, a meniscus tear resulted in him missing about the final month of the regular season. He did remarkably return in time for the postseason but was clearly still in search of a rhythm. On the year, he averaged 21.8 points per game and shot 50.4% from the floor and 41.6% from three.

The spacing that Towns brings at his size is something that the Knicks could use, though he is noticeably weaker on the defensive side of the ball, which could be problematic playing alongside Randle in the front court. It would be more problematic placing Towns at power forward and Mitchell Robinson at center, as that would leave Towns little room to operate inside the perimeter.

A swap of Randle and Towns could make sense from a roster standpoint given their offensive prowess in the frontcourt, but from a financial perspective, it is a significantly higher risk than a reward. Towns’ obscure contract mixed with the on-court production spells a bad idea for New York’s front office. Randle provides nearly the same production, if not better, all-around, and is a much more physical player than Towns which is why he has thrived playing under head coach Tom Thibodeau.

Since the rumors with the Knicks first began, the fanbase has been split on whether or not Towns’ massive contract is worth taking on given his talent level. While the four-time All-Star is truly a one-of-a-kind player at 7’0”, the Knicks’ front office has not been in a rush to acquire him in a trade, and rightfully so as the costs could outweigh the benefits in this situation.

While the Knicks and Wolves may hold brief conversations regarding Towns’ availability this offseason, the idea that a reunion with Thibodeau is on the horizon doesn’t seem likely at this time.

Mentioned in this article:

More about: