Karl-Anthony Towns

Karl-Anthony Towns Receives Significant Medical Treatments

All-Star Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns had been playing through a litany of ailments during Minnesota’s recent playoff run, writes Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. The injuries were significant enough that Towns decided to receive several medical treatments for them in the hopes of avoiding offseason surgery.

According to Shelburne, the 6’11” big man out of Kentucky had been playing through the injuries throughout the Timberwolves’ postseason run, which included a play-in tournament win over the Clippers and a hard-fought 4-2 first-round loss to the Grizzlies.

Shelburne reveals that Towns had been struggling through pain in both his knees, plus a dislocated left wrist with ligament damage, an aggravated right hand middle finger joint, and a cyst in his left ankle. To address these maladies, the 26-year-old was given platelet-rich plasma injections and stem cell therapy in all the impacted areas.

Towns’ goal for receiving these various treatments now is to stave off surgery and completely recuperate from the procedures in time for Minnesota’s training camp in the fall.

Alongside second-year shooting guard Anthony Edwards, Towns led a resurgent Timberwolves team to a 46-36 regular season record and its first playoff berth in four years. Towns was the team’s leading scorer, averaging 24.6 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.1 BPG, and 1.0 SPG in 74 games. He also posted a slash line of .529/.410/.822.

Timberwolves Notes: Towns, Russell, Finch, Offseason

Asked about the possibility of signing a contract extension, Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns said “things will happen this summer,” Dane Moore tweets. It sounds as if Towns is intent on remaining in Minnesota for the long haul

“I love this city,” Towns said after the team was eliminated by the Grizzlies on Friday night. “So obviously things will happen this summer (and) when they happen, they happen.  … I’ve been here long enough to know everyday things can change, so just be happy with where everything is at right now.”

Towns would be eligible to sign a four-year, $210.9MM super-max extension if he’s named to an All-NBA team, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN. If doesn’t make one of those three teams, a max extension would be worth $130.7MM over three years.

We have more on the Timberwolves:

  • D’Angelo Russell‘s subpar performances in the series could impact a potential extension for the guard, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic notes. Russell was replaced by Jordan McLaughlin in the fourth quarter of Game 6 as his offensive struggles continued. Russell scored 22 points in Game 3 but no more than 12 in any of the other five games. It remains a question about what lengths the Wolves are willing to go to keep him, Krawczynski adds. Russell is extension-eligible this summer and Minnesota can offer a four-year contract that begins in the 2023/24 season.
  • The Timberwolves blew another big lead in Game 6 and coach Chris Finch said they have to learn not to beat themselves in key moments, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. “This is a really, really good team down the hallway,” Finch said of Memphis. “They don’t beat themselves. We don’t have that in us yet.” It could lead to some roster adjustments, Finch adds. “This just provides us with the foundation to keep moving forward,” he said. “We know what this experience can do for us headed into the offseason. What we have to do better, our habits with our roster. Everything.”
  • Towns expressed gratitude to the Grizzlies for making his team realize what it takes in the playoffs, according to Evan Barnes of the Memphis Commercial Appeal“Being totally honest, I thank the Grizzlies for making us a better team, for us giving good fight, good series,” Towns said. “I think we all knew what this series was going to be and I think both teas showed why they deserve to be in the playoffs and why they deserve to have this chance to show what they can do.”
  • Depth at small and power forward are the team’s biggest needs, Marks wrote in his offseason guide. The franchise is in pretty good shape in terms of assets and the salary cap. It has four picks in the draft (three second-rounders), the mid-level exception, a $4.8MM trade exception and $50MM in expiring contracts.

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, Mitchell, Gobert, Towns

The Nuggets made two crucial adjustments that allowed them to stave off elimination against the Warriors in Game 4, Kyle Frederickson of the Denver Post writes. Denver got key Warriors players into foul trouble and matched Golden State’s physicality. That gave the team a boost of confidence as it tries to win four straight. “We see they’re beatable,” point guard Monte Morris said.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The relationship between Jazz stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert has improved, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported on his podcast (hat tip to HoopsHype). “I have been told that Donovan and Rudy are in a better place now than they were earlier this year. And that there is a spirit of working together,” Windhorst said. “I know everybody’s counting passes, and that’s not irrelevant. But I have heard going into the playoffs that there was an attempt being made to, ‘Let’s all focus on one goal.'”
  • Not only did Mitchell and Gobert combine for the decisive basket on a lob pass in Game 4, the Jazz also displayed a much improved defensive mindset, Tony Jones of The Athletic writes. “This is who we want to say that we are,” Gobert said. “The challenge for us is to do this every night, every minute. We have to do this with whoever is on the court. We have to play with this kind of intensity.”
  • Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns erupted for 33 points in Game 4 against Memphis and he vows to stay “locked in,” he told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports“I was just determined to force their hand,” Towns said. “I was going to be aggressive and do whatever it took to get the ball. I went about different ways of attacking, different points of attack and different ways of getting the ball in my hands. We all watched tape and we all had to get the job done.”

Northwest Notes: Towns, McLaughlin, Dort, Gilgeous-Alexander

The Timberwolves overcame a foul-plagued outing by Karl-Anthony Towns to beat the Clippers in the play-in tournament. Towns says he’ll be just fine as the team prepares for its first-round series with the Grizzlies, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. “I’m not tripping at all. In a good space,” Towns said. “Just good to get past the last two days and I’m ready to go.”

Towns says he’ll play smarter against Memphis. “I got a more clear role for what they want me to do in the playoffs,” he said. “So I’m very confident, feel very good.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves reserve guard Jordan McLaughlin never left the bench in the play-in game but he’ll have a role against the Grizzlies, coach Chris Finch told Hine in a separate story. McLaughlin will take any minutes he can get. “I’m a team player, so when my number is called, I’m going to be ready to go and do whatever I can to help my team win,” McLaughlin said. “If it’s not called, I’m still going to help my team win, cheering on the bench, talking to guys, telling them what I see and stuff like that. It’s never about me.”
  • Thunder guard Luguentz Dort anticipates he’ll be fully recovered from shoulder surgery by training camp, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Dort believes he’ll be back to 100% during the next two to three months. Dort is eligible for a contract extension and could become an unrestricted free agent next summer. “I’m going to let my agent handle it,” Dort said of a possible extension.
  • Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is pumped about the franchise’s future, Mussatto writes in a separate piece. He’ll enter the first year of his five-year max extension next season. “We have that trust in each other,” Gilgeous-Alexander said, referring to the front office and coaching staff. “I can’t go into details, but we’re excited for the future.” 

Super-Max Candidates Who Will Be Impacted By 2021/22 All-NBA Picks

A player who has no more than six years of NBA experience is typically eligible for a maximum salary starting at 25% of the salary cap; a player with between seven and nine years of NBA service is eligible for a max deal starting at 30% of the cap; and a player with 10 or more years of experience can earn a starting salary worth up to 35% of the cap.

However, the NBA’s super-max rules, which we explain in a pair of glossary entries, allow players who don’t yet have 10 years of experience to move into higher maximum-salary tiers. By meeting certain criteria, players with seven to nine years of experience can become eligible for salaries worth up to 35% of the cap, while players with six years (or less) of service time can qualify for up to 30% of the cap.

The super-max performance criteria is as follows (only one of the following must be true):

  • The player was named to an All-NBA team and/or was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in the most recent season, or in two of the last three seasons.
  • The player was named the NBA MVP in any of the three most recent seasons.

A player who has seven or eight years of NBA service with one or two years left on his contract becomes eligible for what is known as a “Designated Veteran” extension if he meets the required performance criteria and hasn’t been traded since his first four years in the league. A Designated Veteran contract can also be signed by a player who is technically a free agent if he has eight or nine years of service and meets the required criteria.

Nuggets star Nikola Jokic met the super-max performance criteria a year ago when he won his first MVP award. However, since he still only had six years of NBA experience under his belt at the time, he couldn’t actually sign a Designated Veteran extension with Denver until the summer of 2022. The expectation is that Jokic will sign a five-year contract extension with a starting salary worth 35% of the 2023/24 cap this offseason.

Players who are coming off their rookie contracts and meet the super-max performance criteria become eligible for what is colloquially known as a “Rose Rule” contract, starting at 30% of the cap instead of 25%. The rule is unofficially named after Derrick Rose, who won an MVP award in 2011 while he was still on his rookie deal.

Mavericks star Luka Doncic qualified for a Rose Rule super-max deal by earning All-NBA honors in his second and third NBA seasons in 2020 and 2021. Even if he doesn’t make an All-NBA team this season (he will), he already met the performance criteria by being named an All-NBA player in two of the three seasons before his new contract will take effect. When the Mavs signed Doncic to a rookie scale extension last offseason, they agreed it would start at 30% of the 2022/23 cap. Currently, that five-year deal projects to be worth over $212MM.

Not every player is as fortunate as Jokic or Doncic though. Most of the players who have a shot at becoming eligible for a super-max contract this year will need to earn a spot on one of the 2021/22 All-NBA teams in order to qualify.

Here’s a closer look at some of the players who have a lot riding on this season’s All-NBA picks from a financial perspective:

Trae Young (Hawks)

When Young signed a five-year, maximum-salary rookie scale extension with the Hawks last August, the two sides agreed to include Rose Rule language in the agreement, opening the door for Young’s starting salary to be worth 30% of the cap (instead of 25%) when the deal begins in 2022/23. In order for that to happen though, Young has to earn one of 15 All-NBA spots this season.

It looked in the first half, as Atlanta got off to a 17-25 start, like Young would be a long shot to make an All-NBA team. However, as they did a year ago, the Hawks have played much better in the second half and Young has been leading the team’s push for a playoff spot.

Young’s season-long averages of 28.3 PPG and 9.7 APG in 74 games (34.9 MPG) make him a legitimate All-NBA candidate, even if he’s penalized a little for his subpar defense. While Luka Doncic, Stephen Curry, Devin Booker, and Ja Morant are probably ahead of him among potential All-NBA guards, Young looks like a strong Third Team contender, especially if voters consider DeMar DeRozan to be a forward.

Based on the NBA’s latest cap projections, Young would be in line for a $212.3MM payday if he’s named to an All-NBA team or $176.9MM if he isn’t. That’s a difference of more than $35MM, so voters will have to think carefully about which players they select as their six All-NBA guards this spring.

Karl-Anthony Towns (Timberwolves)

Devin Booker (Suns)

Unlike Young, Towns and Booker have yet to lock in extensions with their respective teams and aren’t facing do-or-die All-NBA decisions this spring. However, both players would become eligible for super-max contract extensions (worth 35% of the cap instead of 30%) if they’re named to an All-NBA team this season.

The current contracts for Towns and Booker are virtually identical, and if they both earn All-NBA nods, their next deals could be too. With seven years of NBA experience and two years left on their respective contracts, they’d be eligible to sign four-year, Designated Veteran extensions this offseason.

Those deals wouldn’t go into effect until 2024/25, so it’s difficult to pin down exactly how much they’d be worth. We don’t yet have solid cap projections for that season. But if we assume a $130MM salary cap for that ’24/25, a four-year contract starting at 35% of the cap would work out to approximately $204MM.

First though, Towns and Booker will need to earn All-NBA spots. Booker looks like a lock, having been the go-to offensive option for the league’s best team.

Towns’ spot isn’t quite as certain, since he’ll be behind centers Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid, and Rudy Gobert‘s defensive dominance always makes him an All-NBA threat. But I think voters will favor Towns over Gobert and other centers (such as Bam Adebayo). There’s even a possibility that both Jokic and Embiid could end up on the First Team if voters put one of the two stars at forward, which would leave both the Second Team and Third Team center spots up for grabs and make Towns a slam-dunk choice.

Zach LaVine (Bulls)

LaVine will have eight years of NBA service under his belt when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason and will be eligible for a maximum salary starting at 30% of the cap. An All-NBA nod would bump that number up to 35%, but that doesn’t look nearly as realistic for LaVine as it did earlier in the season.

Slowed by knee pain, LaVine has seen his numbers dip a little in the second half, and while they’re still strong overall (24.4 PPG on .475/.389/.852 shooting), his teammate DeRozan is more likely to earn All-NBA accolades. And after slipping to sixth in the Eastern Conference standings, Chicago is unlikely to be rewarded with two All-NBA selections.

Assuming LaVine doesn’t make an All-NBA team, his projected five-year maximum contract with the Bulls will be worth $212.3MM instead of $247.7MM.

The rest

The players listed above aren’t the only ones who have super-max eligibility on the line with this year’s All-NBA vote. But they’re the only ones among that group who are realistic candidates to actually make one of those All-NBA teams.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Michael Porter Jr., for instance, signed rookie scale extensions with Rose Rule language last offseason and would be eligible for higher max salaries if they make an All-NBA team, but obviously they won’t. Suns center Deandre Ayton, a restricted free agent this summer, would qualify for a 30% max salary with an All-NBA spot, and he certainly has a better case than Gilgeous-Alexander or Porter. But he’ll fall short too.

When this season’s All-NBA teams are eventually announced, Young, Towns, Booker, and – to a lesser extent – LaVine are the best candidates to benefit financially.

Timberwolves Notes: Russell, McDaniels, Towns

Timberwolves guard D’Angelo Russell admits his confidence is a little shaken due to a shooting slump, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. Russell is shooting just 34% overall during his last 11 games and 26% from three-point range.

“It’s just a confidence thing right now,” he said. “When you see a lot of shot you usually make miss, the confidence isn’t there. So it’s just staying high, staying high with my confidence and knowing they’re good looks and I make these and take these shots.”

We have more on the Timberwolves:

  • On the same topic, coach Chris Finch believes Russell can be more effective by running more pick-and-rolls, Hine writes in a separate story“He’s aggressive in pick-and-roll,” Finch said. “I think we’ve got to get him in more pick-and-roll.”
  • Forward Jaden McDaniels, who is recovering from a high left ankle sprain, will be reevaluated in the middle of next week, Hine tweets. McDaniels has been cleared for some basketball activities. He has been out since March 14.
  • Minnesota finally has the right pieces to accentuate Karl-Anthony Towns‘ ability, Dan Devine of The Ringer opines. Devine takes a deep dive into Towns’ big season, noting that Finch has given him the green light to attack more off the dribble.

Karl-Anthony Towns, Jayson Tatum Named Players Of The Week

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns has been named the Player of the Week for the Western Conference, while Celtics forward Jayson Tatum has won the award for the Eastern Conference, the NBA announced today (via Twitter).

Oddly, this is the third time this season that Towns and Tatum have earned Player of the Week honors for the same week. Both players won the award on December 20 and again on March 7.

Towns’ numbers during the week of March 14-20 were buoyed by his 60-point, 17-rebound outburst in San Antonio last Monday, but he also led the Timberwolves to blowout victories over the Lakers and Bucks. He averaged 38.3 PPG, 12.0 RPG, and 3.0 APG on .569/.600/.925 shooting in just 31.4 minutes per contest in those three wins.

Tatum’s Celtics also enjoyed a dominant 3-0 week as they continued their climb up the Eastern standings, winning by 20 or more points in Golden State, Sacramento, and Denver. The All-Star forward put up 29.3 PPG, 7.7 RPG, and 5.0 APG with a .592/.571/.933 shooting line in those three games (34.6 MPG).

The other nominees for this week’s Player of the Week awards were Deandre Ayton, Devin Booker, and Donovan Mitchell in the West, along with Kevin Durant, Darius Garland, Tyler Herro, Pascal Siakam, and Tatum’s teammate Jaylen Brown in the East (Twitter link).

Western Notes: Murray, Green, Craig, Towns

Nuggets star Jamal Murray isn’t close to returning from a torn ACL, head coach Michael Malone said on Sunday, as relayed by Mike Singer of the Denver Post (Twitter link). Murray suffered the injury 11 months ago and an ESPN report from last month suggested he could return before the playoffs.

Murray, who spent some time with the Grand Rapids Gold earlier this month, may rejoin the team’s G League affiliate for another block of practices, Malone added. No timetable was revealed for a possible return.

Murray averaged a career-high 21.2 points per game before sustaining the injury last season, shooting 48% from the floor and 41% from deep. The Nuggets own the seventh-best record in the West (42-30) despite his absence. The team has also dealt with other significant losses — including Michael Porter Jr. (back) — and should be viewed as a legitimate contender at full strength.

Here are some other notes from the West:

  • In a separate story for the Denver Post, Mike Singer examines how JaMychal Green‘s leadership has been valuable for the Nuggets. Green lit a fire in the team’s huddle against Philadelphia last Monday, helping motivate them en route to a 114-110 win, Singer shares.
  • Suns wing Torrey Craig stepped up in the absences of Jae Crowder (groin) and Cameron Johnson (quad) against the Bulls on Friday, as relayed by the Arizona Republic. Craig finished with 14 points and nine rebounds as a starter, shooting 5-of-5 from the floor in 31 minutes of action.
  • Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns expressed confidence in his squad after winning its fourth straight game, Dane Moore of Bring Me The News tweets. Minnesota defeated Milwaukee 138-119 on Saturday. The team is 9-1 in its last 10 games, leading Towns to make the following statement: “Any time we step on the court, we should win… We feel we can beat anybody.”

Wolves Notes: Beverley, Finch, Prince, Towns

The Timberwolves are starting to look like serious contenders in the West, winning 10 of their last 11 to move within a half-game of escaping the play-in tournament. Part of the success lies in a pair of new attitudes, from the fiery Patrick Beverley, who was acquired in an offseason trade, to the more relaxed Chris Finch, who is in his first full season as Minnesota’s head coach.

Beverley’s influence was evident in Saturday’s win over the Bucks, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. When Serge Ibaka and Taurean Prince had a brief scuffle early in the game, Beverley ran from across the court to shove Ibaka. George Hill shoved Beverley in return, and although they were both ejected, it set the tone for a Wolves team that refused to back down from the defending champions.

“I was telling (Jarred Vanderbilt) at the half, I was like, ‘That gave me a different kind of boost,’” Anthony Edwards said.

Finch, who was brought in as head coach 13 months ago, has adopted a philosophy he learned from Rick Adelman to avoid trying to control everything that happens. He ‘s being careful not to discourage a young team that’s learning how to assert itself.

“We have a lot of strong personalities, a lot of outgoing guys,” Finch said. “Just try to let them be themselves. They’re young. They’re excitable. They like each other. They root for each other. Don’t want to dampen their spirits too much.”

There’s more from Minnesota:

  • Prince has been a steady contributor since the injury to Jaden McDaniels, Krawczynski adds. His willingness to accept a reduced role for much of the season is part of being a team leader. “Two or three years ago, I would’ve said I wanted to be there (with the starting lineup),” Prince said. “Now, I’m just trying to play basketball. There’s been days when I came off the bench and still played 25 or 30 minutes and days I’ve played 15. It’s part of being a pro.”
  • Karl-Anthony Towns isn’t just putting up impressive stats, he’s making the difference between winning and losing for the first time since arriving in Minnesota, contends Chip Scoggins of The Star Tribune. “It feels like I’m playing the best basketball of my career and it’s leading to great wins,” Towns said. “The reason why I’m finding myself playing some of the best basketball of my career is because I have some of the best teammates I’ve ever had.”
  • Towns, who was listed as questionable for the Milwaukee game with a right forearm contusion, didn’t think he would be able to play when he woke up Saturday, tweets Dane Moore. Towns said he got “chopped” in Monday’s game against the Spurs and has been dealing with pain in the arm all week.

Wolves Notes: Trash Talk, Beverley, Edwards, Towns

The Timberwolves cruised to a 124-104 win on Wednesday night in Minnesota, handing the reeling Lakers their third consecutive loss and the 12th loss in their last 15 games. En route to the victory, several Wolves players seemed to relish the opportunity to talk trash to Los Angeles players, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN writes.

In a pair of sequences that went viral, Karl-Anthony Towns and Patrick Beverley mocked Russell Westbrook after he put up an airball (video link), and Beverley mockingly plugged his nose and appeared to call Westbrook “trash” after forcing a turnover (video link). After the game, James brushed off the trash talk as “part of the game,” while Westbrook said he wasn’t bothered by it, taking a shot at the Wolves in the process.

“Nobody over there has done anything in this league that would make me pick my eyes up, like, ‘Oh, they’re talking mess. Let me respond.’ No. It’s fine,” Westbrook said, per Youngmisuk. “They’re good. They won the game. Happy for them. Move onto the next one.”

Beverley, who has gone back and forth with Westbrook in the past, replied to the Lakers guard’s comments via Twitter later in the night: “Playoffs every year. 2 western conference finals with 2 different Teams 👀👀👀 individual stats or team stats? I thought it was a team sport??”

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • Both Beverley and Anthony Edwards spoke on Wednesday about the Timberwolves’ increasing confidence, explaining that this season’s team has a level of “swag” that has been missing in the past. “Being on the other side, coming into Minnesota, a swagless team over the years. Not really understanding an identity, but this year is very different,” Beverley said, per Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. “We know exactly who we are. We’re not backing down from anybody. Humbly though, very humbly. Not arrogant in that sense. Very comfortable in our skin.”
  • Towns has faced criticism over the years, especially following Jimmy Butler‘s departure, based on a perception that he lacks toughness and doesn’t have a killer instinct. But Beverley, who had heard those stories before joining the Wolves, has been pleasantly surprised by what he has seen from the big man this season.I thought my biggest task when I came here was going to be KAT and it’s not. It’s been great,” Beverley said (Twitter link via Hine). “Man, of course you hear all those stories about different players before you meet them. … It’s totally the opposite of everything I’ve heard.”
  • After sustaining an ear injury last Friday, Beverley has returned to the starting lineup for Minnesota’s last two games and played well, but he said on Wednesday night that he’s been having some trouble hearing and will see a specialist about the issue, tweets Hine.