The rumor mill is churning again and now it’s saying that the New York Knicks are targeting Minnesota Timberwolves’ big man Karl-Anthony Towns, but we’ve been here before.
Recently, we’ve all seen headlines like, “After coaching change, Knicks targeting superstar” and “Knicks close to acquiring All-Star.” No, wait, sorry. Those are from when the New York Knicks were targeting LeBron James. What does that have to do with the Minnesota Timberwolves? We’re getting there.
The headlines are now reading “Knicks set to sign max contract player” and “Nets no longer primary option for New York targets.”
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Yeah, we’ve been down this road before.
To begin with, most reports suggest that the Knicks aren’t targeting Towns, so much as just “monitoring” his situation. Kind of like how we all monitored that cute girl from across the room; we dreamed about having her, we told ourselves that maybe we had a chance, but we all really knew it would just end in heartbreak.
There’s another major difference between the Karl-Anthony Towns situation and the LeBron and KD situations: Towns isn’t a free agent. Heck, he’s only in the first year of a five-year extension that runs through the 2023-24 season. Until then, the only way Towns is leaving Minnesota would be if the Timberwolves had a momentary case of insanity and traded him.
Another difference here is that Towns is injured right now. Typically, players who are injured for a relatively long time want to come back and improve the team that was hurt while they were out. Most won’t be looking for a way out come season’s end.
Beyond this, we haven’t heard any rumors about Towns wanting to leave (outside of the Knicks really wanting it) and we haven’t seen a crack in the facade of the Timberwolves team yet. In fact, judging by KAT’s Twitter account, he’s happy in Minnesota. (I know, a tough concept to grasp what with the perpetual losing, constant front office turnover, and dreadful weather, but it’s true!)
Outside of all of the realistic reasons that a trade won’t be happening any time soon, what do the Knicks really have to offer? While it’s true that the Knicks do have three first-round picks in the next two drafts, the Timberwolves still have both of their draft picks and right now both teams are in a tough spot salary-cap wise, so leveling out a trade would be tough.
This season, the most realistic trade that the Knicks could offer the Wolves for Towns is a package that includes Dennis Smith Jr. (whom Minnesota has expressed interest in), Julius Randle and Kevin Knox. The Timberwolves, in return, would give up Towns and both teams would have to do a first-round pick swap with the more favorable pick going to Minnesota.
Next season, while the Timberwolves find themselves with only about $3 million left in cap space, the Knicks find themselves with a little more room to operate, with approximately $10 million in cap space and, should they excercise all team options, just one spot needed to fill during the offseason.
Ideally, they’d only have to give up Randle to Minnesota, but realistically the package from this year would have to be the one offered at any point before 2023.
Every proponent of a KAT-Knicks trade happening will point out that Towns is from New York state. Frankly, though, I think this idea of the “hometown team advantage” just ridiculous.
LeBron left his hometown team and only came back when they had another All-Star in Kyrie Irving, Durant had the ability to go to his home town Washington Wizards and when it came time to choose in the offseason, LeBron left Cleveland … again!
Besides that, if Towns is disgruntled in Minnesota (he’s not) then the only reason that could be is because the team’s on a bit of a winning drought at the moment. But, and I do hate to burst your bubble Knicks’ fans, the Knicks aren’t much of a winning team either. In fact, they’re worse than the Timberwolves!
Aside from everything mentioned above, there’s also the clear signs of Towns trying to build some chemistry in this Wolves organization. For starters, there was the trip to the Bahamas Towns helped organize and lead. The trip helped build team chemistry, and Towns (as well as a ton of others) talked really positively about the trip.
Then there were his holiday excursions. Both this one:
And this one:
Neither of these were things you really saw LeBron or KD doing the season before they left.
And yes, LeBron has his I Promise school, but that was more of a thing that had always been around and he’d always been doing. And while it makes him a wonderful philanthropist and amazing community leader, it still didn’t seem to show some kind of acceptance and respect for the team he had around him.
Typically, if you’re looking to leave a team and hurt fans in a community, you’re not going to go and make yourself public to said fans and act like you’d do anything for them.
But even with all of this, there is still one more reason that Towns isn’t leaving. And it’s not the fact that Minnesota currently has his Bird rights and thus would be able to offer him more than any other team come 2024. It’s not the idea of team loyalty and staying with the team that drafted you either.
Although KAT may very well have those values, that’s not the biggest thing that would keep him in Minny. He’s staying because he knows something. He knows something which most fans (even those of Minnesota) seem to be denying.
When the Timberwolves have Towns and Andrew Wiggins, they win.
That’s what happened earlier in the season, when the Timberwolves started 4-1. It’s what will happen once Towns returns from injury. Towns wants to come back from injury and he wants to play on the team because he knows when he and Wiggins pair up, the team wins.
There’s nobody on the Knicks who could create the same kind of duo the Wiggins and Towns have, not even close. The closest the Knicks have is Dennis Smith Jr., but his shooting is worse than Wiggins and his hustle stats don’t really compare to Wiggins’ either. Besides, Smith would have to come to Minnesota in a Towns trade.
So the next time that a headline rolls across our screens that talks about the Knicks targeting Towns, know that there is no way that it happens.
But don’t worry New York, Anthony Davis is a free agent next summer. Good luck with that.