The NBA has seen its share of power moves by players in the last year. Kawhi Leonard joined the Clippers this offseason while angling for the Paul George trade. Anthony Davis, who shares an agent with LeBron James, demanded a trade with eyes for the Lakers and Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving reportedly began their planning to team up long ago.
Many have speculated that Karl-Anthony Towns could the next player in a small market to leverage his way to a new destination. Towns hears the noise and says he isn’t swayed by the glamour of a bigger city.
“Game is game. Basketball is basketball,” Towns said (via Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic). “Competition is competition. It don’t matter where you at,” Towns said. “All of us were raised, regardless of where we’re at, playing in the park, playing in hot box rec gyms. You were competing. It don’t matter if you’re in Milwaukee, in Minnesota. It doesn’t matter if you’re in L.A. or New York, competition is competition. You have to come ready to play and kick some ass.
“That’s how I approach it. I’m not afraid to play anywhere. I don’t care about where it’s at, who it’s against. I’m going to go out there and compete and try my best.”
New president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas has made it clear that the team is building around Towns as its star. Coach Ryan Saunders, who served in an interim capacity last season, has a close relationship with the center and that was part of the reason Saunders was awarded the full-time job.
“I’m here. That’s the answer. That’s the best answer I can give you,” Towns said. “I’m here. I’m actually in Minnesota.”
A year ago, Tom Thibodeau was still running the show in Minnesota. Towns was entering the final season of his rookie deal and Jimmy Butler was seen by some as the leader of the team. Towns had his concerns about the franchise then, Krawczynski writes. He steered clear of the off-court turmoil surrounding Butler and Thibodeau, instead, focusing on the game.
“I go out there to do my job and do it better than everybody in this league. That’s what my focus is,” Towns said. “I’m not here to be a show.”
Towns is entering the first season of five-year, $190MM max deal. He missed out on roughly $32MM by not making an All-NBA team this past season, though he doesn’t dwell on last year’s results.
“It’s a great thing for me because I laugh about it,” Towns said. “When you’re doing something so well for so long, it gets boring. I guess I’m a boring guy now…It’s never been about the individual awards. It’s about the team success. I’ve got to do better of getting my team in a better position to win. Obviously, it’s going to be fun this year to have the kind of group I have.”
While it may seem like the endorsements and other financial opportunities are heavily concentrated in bigger markets, Towns is doing just fine, as his agency (CAA) has helped him with off-court exposure. In addition to endorsements, Towns has been in movies and on television shows. He has a YouTube Channel as well.
“I thought when you were in Minnesota, you would have less opportunities. I’ve seemed to have only grown with my opportunities,” Towns said. “The idea of it being because of my market or where I’m at is a false narrative that’s written by people who want to keep big cities’ talent pool larger than others. It’s just not true.
“We’re in a digital age. Talent is talent wherever you are. We find it through social media and the markets and the companies know who they want to work with. It doesn’t matter where.”