To be clear, I don’t think that Karl-Anthony Towns is currently being shopped and it should be no surprise to anyone that he is being reported as “unhappy” with the Minnesota Timberwolves after recently losing 11 straight games and likely playoff hopes along with it.
That being said, Towns could reach a point where he is no longer content with the way that Minnesota has failed to surround him with enough talent to even win one playoff series.
The Warriors have been monitoring Karl-Anthony Towns’ situation in Minnesota. He’s under contract until 2023-24 but has less reason than Antetokounmpo to be thrilled with his team’s trajectory. This was a topic among multiple team executives at the recent G League Showcase, with a few relaying word that Towns is unhappy in Minnesota.
If a situation were to arise where Towns asks to be moved, the Timberwolves surely would be able to acquire some promising assets in return. Towns is currently averaging 26.5 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 4.4 assists on an impressive 51% from the field and 41% from three at the age of 24.
Trade returns for young stars are never consistent, but recent past examples involving Anthony Davis and Paul George show promising lottery talent and a handful of first round picks.
Hypothetical trades ideas are always fun to think about, so here are five packages for Minnesota should Karl-Anthony Towns ask out.
Let’s start with where the report initially came from: the Warriors. While it has been long rumored that friends D’Angelo Russell and Towns would like to play together, in this scenario they would need to be part of a trade for each other.
Players coming to Minnesota in this deal would be Russell, Eric Paschall, and the Timberwolves’ choice between Jordan Poole, Jacob Evans, or Alen Smailagic. The only first-rounders that Golden State do not own are this year’s first (Brooklyn-owned from Russell deal) and their 2024 1st (Memphis owned from Andre Igoudala deal), every other first (2021, 2022, 2023, 2025, 2026) should all be on the table for Towns.
The next team that could show interest in Towns and have assets to offer Minnesota is the Boston Celtics.
Boston is a part of every trade rumor, with how active Danny Ainge has been in acquiring assets since the Big-3 days came to an end and he has been engaged in the shopping of those assets.
Boston would need to include either Gordon Hayward, Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, or Jayson Tatum, and Minnesota would want as young of players in return as possible, making Brown and Tatum the targets.
As for picks, Boston has a few on top of their own in a highly valued Memphis 1st (top-6 protected in 2020, then unprotected in 2021), Milwaukee’s 2020 1st, and all of their own firsts.
The package from Boston would be Brown, Memphis’ 2020 1st, Boston’s 2020 and 2022 1st-rounders and a pick swap in 2021.
That gets what are probably the two most obvious trade partners out of the way. Now, stay with me for this one.
Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are a far from ideal pairing in Philadelphia. Simmons does not shoot, and Embiid is a below-average three-point shooter. Towns, meanwhile, is in the best-conversation of the best-shooting centers of all time, and adding him would allow Simmons all the space to attack the paint while Embiid can have a team all to himself in Minnesota.
It’s a wild one, but let’s present Towns for Embiid straight-up as trade option number three.
The Brooklyn Nets are ready to strike on any opportunity to turn their elite duo of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant into a trio, especially if the third was Towns.
Brooklyn has the assets to make one major trade, and this could be just the one they are waiting for. While there is no one potential perennial All-Star asset that would be returning, there would be a handful of players that have promising upside.
Spencer Dinwiddie has an argument that he should have been Brooklyn’s lone All-Star last season over the aforementioned Russell, and certainly has been playing to that level so far in Irving’s absence throughout 2019-20. Caris LeVert has concerns with injuries, but his upside as a slashing wing with defensive capabilities remain, and Jarrett Allen’s name is already mentioned in the conversation of elite shot blockers.
A combination of Dinwiddie, Allen, LeVert, along with some filler salary (Garrett Temple, Rodionis Kurucs, etc.), Philadelphia’s 2020 first-rounder and Brooklyn’s 2020 and 2024 first-rounders should get it done.
The New York Knicks think they are landing every superstar that plays in the NBA, and they do have the assets to play a role in the potential KAT sweepstakes.
Rookie R.J. Barrett could draw some interest, along with second-year center Mitchell Robinson and, to a lesser extent, second-year wing Kevin Knox. On top of those three players, the draft picks that could come from the Knicks might be the most appealing aspect and could even wind up at the top of the draft in 2020.
So, the final package for Towns will come from New York and be comprised of Barrett, Robinson, Knox, Bobby Portis and 2020 and 2022 unprotected Knicks first-rounders.
Towns would bring back a promising package to the Minnesota Timberwolves should he request a trade, as many around the league are keeping close tabs on him. With the Timberwolves continued struggles at the bottom of the Western Conference that time could be nearing, and while it may hurt for Minnesota, New Orleans seems like they will be just fine after moving on from Anthony Davis.
Which package is the most appealing to you from Minnesota’s perspective? Golden State, Boston, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, or New York?