The Timberwolves and star center Karl-Anthony Towns have engaged in discussions about a possible maximum-salary rookie scale extension, according to Michael Scotto and Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link).
Towns, the first overall pick in the 2015 draft, is extension-eligible for the first time this offseason. He and the Wolves have until the day before the 2018/19 regular season begins to work out a potential deal, though if the two sides are talking about a max contract, negotiations may not need to drag out that long.
Over the course of his first three NBA seasons, Towns has established himself as one of the NBA’s best frontcourt scorers. After averaging 25.1 PPG and 12.3 RPG in 2016/17, Towns’ scoring numbers dipped a little in 2017/18 to 21.3 PPG. However, he was more efficient than ever, setting new career bests in FG% (.545) and 3PT% (.421).
If the Wolves and Towns agree to terms on a max deal, it would be worth 25% of the cap in 2019/20, though the two sides could negotiate an agreement tentatively worth up to 30%. The big man would have to meet certain criteria – likely earning an All-NBA nod – in the 2018/19 season to qualify for that more lucrative extension.
Based on a $109MM projected cap for 2019/20, a max deal for Towns would start at $27.25MM and would be worth approximately $158MM over five years, just like the extension Devin Booker signed with the Suns a few days ago. For the Wolves, it could create some interesting cap decisions going forward.
Andrew Wiggins is already on a long-term, maximum-salary contract and Gorgui Dieng is owed $16MM+ in 2019/20 and $17MM+ in 2020/21. Minnesota would also have to consider a new deal for Jimmy Butler, assuming he wants to stick around when he becomes eligible for free agency next summer. And Jeff Teague has a $19MM player option for ’19/20.
If Teague opts in and both Butler and Towns get max contracts, the Wolves would be on the hook for $122MM+ for those five players next season. Given those increasing roster costs – and repeated whispers of possible tension between the Wolves’ stars – the club may eventually consider moving one or more of its highly-paid players.
If Towns doesn’t sign a rookie scale extension this summer, he’d be eligible for restricted free agency in 2019, at which point Minnesota would be able to match any offer he receives.