Karl-Anthony Towns

Wolves Notes: Gobert, Russell, Edwards, Anderson, McDaniels

With Karl-Anthony Towns sidelined for the start of the Timberwolves‘ training camp due to a non-COVID illness, center Rudy Gobert didn’t get a chance to work with his new frontcourt partner in his first formal practice with the team on Tuesday. But Gobert said he felt “great” energy on Tuesday and spoke specifically about developing chemistry with new pick-and-roll partner D’Angelo Russell.

“He can see it all,” Gobert said of Russell, according to Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. “There’s a few times when I didn’t know that he saw me, and he still saw me. It’s really impressive and it’s really exciting.”

As for his partnership with Towns, Gobert said the two big men have been in contact since he was traded to Minnesota in July and have talked about how they’ll be able to maximize each other’s talent.

“On both ends on the floor and even off the floor, just be a great friend, be a great support for him and then on the court, just let that relationship carry over,” Gobert said. “Help him be the best Karl he can be and I know, just by being himself, he’s going to help me be the best Rudy I can be.”

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • Gobert’s friend and fellow Frenchman Nicolas Batum said he was glad to see the longtime Jazz center dealt to Minnesota and thinks Gobert will be better off for it, as Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times tweets. “I don’t think I will say I like it because (the Wolves) beat us in the play-in last year,” Batum said. “… But just for my friend, I am happy to see him with a good team, new spot, new everything, new life for him. He needed that.”
  • Anthony Edwards added 11 pounds of muscle this offseason without increasing his body fat, multiples sources tell Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. “I feel like I’m in better shape, more than anything,” Edwards said. “That’s going to take everything to the next level.”
  • Within the same story, Krawczynski examines a few takeaways from the Wolves’ Media Day, including why veteran forward Kyle Anderson signed with Minnesota as a free agent and what he’ll bring to the team. “Those guys in Minnesota really competed, one through 11, 12, those guys all played really hard,” Anderson said. “You could see the cohesiveness, they played hard for one another. So when it came down to this summer and which team I wanted to sign with, I think this was an easy call.”
  • After working hard to keep Jaden McDaniels out of the trade package for Gobert this summer, the Timberwolves are working just as hard to unlock the young forward’s full potential, Krawczynski writes in a separate article for The Athletic. Among the interesting details in Krawczynski’s story: Minnesota determined that McDaniels’ optimal shooting arc is 47 degrees and used an app during summer workouts to ensure that he was consistently releasing it at that angle.

Northwest Notes: Towns, Giddey, Vanderbilt, Nuggets

Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns doesn’t expect to have any issues shifting from center to power forward when he plays alongside new teammate Rudy Gobert in 2022/23. As Towns tells Colin Ward-Henninger of CBS Sports, playing at the four is something he has gotten accustomed to doing over the course of his career.

“The last time I had something like this, obviously I had Gorgui Dieng, I played (power forward) a lot of years in the NBA. Fans forgot that. It’s OK,” he said. “And go back to me in college. This is how I played in college. Willie Cauley-Stein is like 7’2″. I don’t know what they’re missing in that.”

While Towns is far from the league’s most effective perimeter defender, he said he’s looking forward to the challenge of taking on those assignments. The All-NBA big man added that he expects talent to win out as he and Gobert attempt to develop chemistry.

“I think that Rudy’s one of the best defensive players we’ve ever had in the NBA. He has the hardware to prove it,” Towns told Henninger. “I think I’m one of the best offensive players and talents the NBA has ever seen. So putting us together gives us really a whole spectrum of talent to use.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Having appeared in just 54 games as a rookie, Thunder guard Josh Giddey has spent a lot of time in the gym and the weight room this summer preparing his body to withstand the rigors of an 82-game schedule, he told Matthew Sullivan of News.com.au. “It’s a long season so taking care of your body is a really important part of being an NBA player,” Giddey said, adding that he feels “ready to go” after missing the end of last season due to a hip issue.
  • New Jazz forward Jarred Vanderbilt spoke to Spencer Davies of BasketballNews.com about his fresh start in Utah, his impressions of new teammate Collin Sexton, and playing alongside Malik Beasley on a third team, among other topics. Vanderbilt said he’s looking forward to getting the chance to “expand and grow” his game with the Jazz.
  • In a mailbag for The Denver Post (subscription required), Mike Singer considers whether the Nuggets could realistically claim the No. 1 seed in the West, examines what the second unit might look like, and explains why the team re-signed Vlatko Cancar rather than pursuing a free agent like Juancho Hernangomez.

Wolves’ Glen Taylor Talks Gobert, McDaniels, Russell, Towns

Appearing on The Scoop podcast with Darren Wolfson of SKOR North and 5 Eyewitness News, Timberwolves majority owner Glen Taylor admitted he was somewhat surprised by the team’s acquisition of star center Rudy Gobert, since it “happened fairly fast.”

According to Taylor, new Wolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly had his eye on multiple impact trade targets, but Gobert was his “number one option.” The input of head coach Chris Finch, who expressed confidence in his ability to use Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns, was also a key factor in Minnesota’s decision to pull the trigger on the blockbuster deal.

“What I did when Tim and Chris talked to me about this trade is to ask (Finch) is there a system that he knows how to utilize these players,” Taylor said. “And he was very confident that he did understand how to utilize their skill sets, being two big guys. We talked about a lot, so he convinced me that this is something that is going to take us to a winning situation, and gave us the go-ahead to make the trade.”

Taylor confirmed that the Jazz pushed for Jaden McDaniels to be part of the trade package for Gobert, which “prolonged the trade talks for a while,” but the Wolves were eventually able to meet Utah’s asking price without including the young forward.

Here’s more from Taylor on the Wolves:

  • Asked if he’d like to see D’Angelo Russell sign an extension before the season begins, Taylor said it might benefit both sides to hold off and see how the 2022/23 season goes. “(Finch) believes that with the new lineup, and with Russell in that lineup, that he’ll have a much better year just because of the way we’re going to play,” Taylor said. “He says he thinks there’s a big upside for Russell with this group of (players). That’s to his advantage and to our advantage if it works out.”
  • The decision to give Towns a super-max extension this offseason was an easy one, Taylor said: “It was a non-issue. That’s what we set it up for, the elite players, and Karl has proved he’s one of those players.”
  • Taylor said that he doesn’t expect the Timberwolves to make any more significant roster moves this offseason, though he didn’t rule out the possibility that Connelly could surprise him. “I just know Tim keeps his ears and eyes open all the time, looking (to see) if there’s something else that might happen,” Taylor said. “He’s very proactive if he sees an opportunity that could enhance our team. I think we’re set, but always knowing that he’ll be looking for an opportunity.”
  • The plan remains for Taylor to hand over control of the franchise to incoming owners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez in a little over a year. The Wolves’ longtime owner said he’s not having any regrets about giving up control of the team as it becomes a more legitimate contender. “No, I don’t have any second thoughts. I think it’s the right thing to do,” Taylor said. “We’ve left some options open that I’ll continue to be involved if I want to be involved, and that suits me just fine.”

International Notes: Irving, Adams, Bey, Dominican National Team

Nets guard Kyrie Irving is already thinking about his career beyond the NBA. In response to a fan’s tweet about “gassing up” for the regular season, Irving speculated about his future several years down the road, saying he eventually expects to play overseas.

“I don’t ever have to Gas myself up,” Irving wrote (Twitter link). “I am going on my 12th year in the best league in the world and I am only getting better. When I am 38 years old and have time to reflect on my career truly, I will do so, but until then, I am enjoying every moment.”

“And no I won’t be done playing basketball at 38 years old lol,” he added (Twitter link). “I’ll be in leagues all over the world playing and teaching the youth all that was taught to me.”

Irving just turned 30 in March, so the future he’s talking about is several years away. He’s under contract to Brooklyn for one more season after picking up his $36.9MM option last month.

Here are some more notes related to international basketball:

  • Jaylen Adams, the Most Valuable Player in Australia’s NBL last season, has signed with KK Crvena Zvezda in Serbia, according to Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw (Twitter link). Adams, who appeared in seven games with the Bucks during the 2020/21 season, attended a mini-camp with the Lakers last month.
  • Former NBA small forward Tyler Bey is receiving interest from Ironi Ness Ziona in Israel, tweets Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Bey held a two-way contract with the Rockets in training camp last year, but he was waived before the start of the season and wound up playing for Houston’s G League affiliate. A former star at Colorado, Bey played 18 games with the Mavericks in 2020/21.
  • Al Horford, Karl-Anthony Towns and Chris Duarte are the most prominent names on the Dominican Republic’s preliminary 25-man World Cup roster, according to Cancha Latina. The team has qualifying games next month against Panama and Venezuela. Horford has been a member of the national team since 2008, and Towns has represented the country since 2012.

Western Notes: Beverley, Ayton, Fontecchio, Towns

Patrick Beverley is one of several Jazz veterans awaiting clarity on the team’s plans, Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune writes. Beverley was acquired from the Timberwolves in the Rudy Gobert blockbuster and the 34-year old guard wants to play for a contender. If Utah trades Donovan Mitchell, it will signal a full rebuild.

“Hopefully Donovan Mitchell stays and the team is competitive, and if that’s the case, we’re very excited,” Beverley said. “If that’s not the case, then, obviously, I’ve been in this league long enough I want to taste how winning a championship feels. We’ll see, though, over the next couple of weeks.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Suns matched the Pacers’ offer sheet for Deandre Ayton but there are still fences to be mended between the team and its starting center, ESPN’s Zach Lowe said on his podcast (hat tip to RealGM). “The weirdness of the Ayton situation, both the contract negotiations, the widespread perception, I’m talking widespread around the league that the bridge was pretty much burned between Ayton and the team,” he said. “The comments that Monty Williams made after Game 7 when he pulled Ayton. There’s clearly some mending of fences that has to happen there. Can it happen? Is this just a ‘we’re waiting it out until we can trade him’ situation? That’s another interesting human dynamic.”
  • The Jazz had a simple reason for signing Italian small forward Simone Fontecchio to a two-year contract. They felt he was the best player on the unrestricted free agent market, according to Tony Jones of The Athletic. He’s a versatile 6’8”player who shot 41% on 3-point attempts last season.
  • The trust between Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns and the front office has grown over the years, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic notes. Towns signed a super-max extension this month approximately a week after it was offered by the franchise. When he received a rookie scale extension in 2018, he waited months to sign it as the drama involving then coach Tom Thibodeau and Jimmy Butler played out.

Timberwolves Notes: KAT, Title Path, Branch, Spagnolo

After agreeing to a four-year, super-max extension earlier this offseason with the team that selected him first in the 2015 NBA draft, Timberwolves All-Star big man Karl-Anthony Towns penned an enthusiastic letter praising Minnesota fans in local paper the Star Tribune (h/t to NBA Retweet for capturing the image).

“To the best fans in the NBA,” Towns began his missive. “When I arrived in Minnesota in 2015, I carried a lot of weight on my shoulders… I arrived at a hopeful time for the franchise. The best part of my tenure here is that we have such a bright future ahead — because of you all, the fans.

“… I am not who I am today without you,” Towns continued. “Thank you for challenging me, holding me accountable, supporting me and giving me a place to grow up and learn what it means to represent this state…. I promise to continue leading us to new heights for years to come.”

Towns will be suiting up for a new-look Minnesota club this fall, thanks in no small part to the team’s blockbuster trade for former Jazz All-Star center Rudy Gobert.

There’s more out of Minnesota:

  • In recent remarks made after agreeing to his new contract, Karl-Anthony Towns claimed to revel in the challenge of lifting the team that drafted him onto the path to title contention, writes Michael Rand of the Star Tribune“A lot of people in my position, you know, they get to this spot with their second contract and they’re looking to get a ring — the easiest ring around the league,” Towns said during a conversation for the Star Tribune’s podcast Daily Delivery. “I wanted to take the harder route. I wanted to be loyal to the people who brought me into this league and gave me a chance to prove my worth. I wanted to win here.”
  • Joe Branch, a Timberwolves front office executive who first joined Minnesota following a stint as an agent with Roc Nation, is on the cusp of heading back to the agency side, where he is set to latch on with BDA Sports, according to Marc Stein (Twitter link).
  • Shooting guard Matteo Spagnolo, drafted by the Timberwolves with the No. 50 pick this year, will join Italian club Aquila Basket Trento for the 2022/23 season, the team announced in a press statement. Spagnolo heads to Aquila Basket on loan from Real Madrid, for whom the 19-year-old has played since 2018. During the 2021/22 season, Real Madrid loaned Spagnola out to another Italian team, Vanoli Cremona.  In 25 contests for Vanolia Cremona, the 6’4″ wing averaged 12.2 PPG on .440/.441/.861 shooting. He also notched 3.5 RPG, 2.6 APG and 0.8 SPG.

Wolves Notes: Towns, Gobert, Edwards, Spagnolo

Karl-Anthony Townssuper-max extension will keep him with the Timberwolves through the end of the 2027/28 season, and the star center has plans to stay even longer. At a press conference Friday formally announcing the extension, Towns indicated that he wants to spend the rest of his career in the Twin Cities, tweets basketball writer Christos Tsaltas.

“My dream is to retire here (in Minnesota),” Towns said. “I’m very comfortable spending my time here. This place has a special energy.”

If that happens, Towns will be among a select group of modern elite players to spend their entire career with one team. He has been a cornerstone of the franchise since being taken with the No. 1 pick in the 2015 draft, and the Wolves appear to be on the rise after reaching the playoffs last season and completing a huge offseason trade to acquire Rudy Gobert.

“I expect a lot of winning here,” Towns told reporters. “I want to win.”

There’s more from Minnesota:

  • Appearing on ESPN’s NBA Today (video link), Towns said he was in London when the trade with Utah happened. When his girlfriend told him, “You guys got Rudy,” he thought the team signed Rudy Gay. When she explained that it was actually Gobert, Towns started thinking about the possibilities of having two big men on the court together. “I just saw the vision of us both twin towers out there,” Towns said. “What he can do defensively, what I can do offensively, and we all putting that together for one organization, I think it’s going to be very different. The NBA hasn’t seen something like this (for years). It’s going to be unique and it’s going to be scary.”
  • In the same interview, Towns expressed supreme confidence in teammate Anthony Edwards and said the two of them need to “go out there and play at a level that hasn’t been seen since Shaq and Kobe, if possible” (Twitter link).
  • The Wolves have confirmed that second-round pick Matteo Spagnolo will play overseas next season, according to Cody Taylor of USA Today’s Rookie Wire. Spagnolo, the 50th overall selection, spent last season with Vanoli Cremona of Lega A, Italy’s top professional league. He played for Minnesota in the Las Vegas Summer League, averaging 3.2 points, 1.8 assists and 1.4 rebounds in five games.

KAT: It’s “Championship Or Bust” After Gobert Trade

At a press conference to announce his super-max extension on Friday, Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns said he is fully aware of the expectations the team has going forward after trading an enormous amount of assets for three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert.

Championship or bust,” Towns said.

He elaborated further once the press conference was over.

When you make the trade that we made, that’s the reality. I’m not trying to sugarcoat,” Towns told Michael Rand of The Star Tribune. “You’ve got to think that. That’s really what’s on the table. I don’t think the fans would be accepting of [a goal of] a third-round elimination. … Let’s be real. The standards are high. The pressure is high. And that’s when we should all love to play basketball even more.”

As Rand writes, the idea that Minnesota would have such lofty goals even last summer, after a disappointing season saw the team finish 23-49, 13th in the West, might have seemed preposterous.

But things change quickly in the NBA, Rand notes. The Wolves won 46 games last season and made the playoffs for just the second time in the past 18 years, and now after acquiring a four-time All-NBA center, the bar for success has risen dramatically.

New president of basketball Tim Connelly said he was grateful that Towns was so eager to recommit to the only franchise he’s ever known.

For Karl, he’s seen a lot of tough days,” Connelly said, per Rand. “It was so exciting to hear how excited he was about Finchy (head coach Chris Finch) and his teammates and how quickly he was willing to get this done.”

Contract Details: Booker, Towns, Magic, Oladipo, Anderson, Hardy

The new super-max extensions for Suns guard Devin Booker and Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns each come with a different perk.

Booker’s deal includes a 10% trade kicker, but is fully guaranteed for all four years, with no player option in 2027/28.

Towns’ new contract, conversely, doesn’t feature a trade kicker, but has a fourth-year player option, giving Towns the ability to opt out and reach free agency in 2027.

Here are several more contract details from around the NBA:

  • Both Mohamed Bamba and Bol Bol received one guaranteed season and one non-guaranteed season on their new two-year contracts with the Magic. Bamba has matching cap hits of $10.3MM on his deal, while Bol’s cap hits are $2.2MM apiece.
  • Victor Oladipo‘s reworked two-year deal with the Heat came in at $18.2MM in total. It’s worth $8.75MM in 2022/23, with a $9.45MM player option for ’23/24.
  • As previously reported, Kyle Anderson‘s two-year contract with the Timberwolves is worth exactly $18MM. It features a first-year salary of $8,780,488 and a 5% raise to $9,219,512 for 2023/24.
  • Jaden Hardy‘s three-year contract with the Mavericks is, as expected, worth the minimum in all three seasons. It’s fully guaranteed in the first two years, with a partial guarantee of $400K in year three.

Karl-Anthony Towns Signs Super-Max Extension With Timberwolves

JULY 7: Towns has officially signed the contract, according to a team press release.

“I couldn’t be prouder to continue my commitment to this franchise and community for years to come,” Towns said. “Minnesota has become my home and I am excited to continue making the fans proud to support the Timberwolves. My first seven years in the league, it has been an amazing journey. It all started with Flip Saunders taking a chance on me and now here we are. I look forward to all the achievements that are ahead for our team and the Timberwolves fanbase.” 

JUNE 30: Karl-Anthony Towns has agreed to sign a four-year, super-max extension with the Timberwolves, agent Jessica Holtz tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

The deal will begin in 2024/25 and will be worth 35% of that season’s salary cap, with 8% raises in subsequent seasons. Since the ’24/25 cap figure isn’t yet known, neither is the amount of Towns’ extension, but Wojnarowski projects it to be worth about $224MM over four years.

The signing is something of a no-brainer for a Minnesota club on the rise. Towns, still just 26, enjoyed something of a comeback season with Minnesota in 2021/22. Though his stats in recent years remained impressive, the team had been mired in middling lottery-bound purgatory for three straight seasons prior to 2022.

In 2022, the 6’11” center made his first All-Star team since 2019 and his first All-NBA Team since 2018. Towns also won the NBA Three-Point Contest during the 2022 All-Star Weekend, a rarity for a big man. During 74 games last year, Towns averaged 24.6 PPG, 9.8 RPG, and 3.6 APG, with guard-like shooting splits of .529/.410/.822.

The three-time All-Star’s offensive prowess was a big reason the Timberwolves returned to their first playoff berth in four years. Led by Towns and second-year phenom Anthony Edwards, plus guards D’Angelo Russell and Patrick Beverley, the seventh-seeded Timberwolves pushed the second-seeded Grizzlies in a tough, physical first-round series. Minnesota would ultimately fall to Memphis in six games.

A super-max contract extension for Towns, an exceptional offensive talent just reaching his prime, had previously been considered the top priority for Minnesota’s front office this summer.

So far in free agency, the team has also added veteran small forward Kyle Anderson and re-signed tweener forward Taurean Prince to a two-year extension. The team also exercised non-guaranteed team options for 2022/23 on Naz Reid and Jaylen Nowell.

In the draft, the Timberwolves added several intriguing young players. Auburn big man Walker Kessler, the Naismith National Defensive Player of the Year, and Duke small forward Wendell Moore, were selected in the first round. Memphis drafted Memphis swingman Josh Minott and Vanoli Cremona shooting guard Matteo Spagnolo in the second round.