Tim Connelly Hopes Karl-Anthony Towns is with T-Wolves 'Forever' amid Contract Rumors

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJune 21, 2022

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 31:  Tim Connelly, new Minnesota Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations speaks while being introduced to the media by team ownership group Glen Taylor, Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez on May 31, 2022 at the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx Courts at Mayo Clinic Square in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  NOTE TO USER:  User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Now that he's running the Minnesota Timberwolves' front office, Tim Connelly has no intentions of losing Karl-Anthony Towns.

In an interview with the Star Tribune's Chris Hine, Minnesota's new president of basketball operations made it clear he wants to keep Towns in Minneapolis beyond the two years left on his contract:

"I hope he's here forever. I hope we have the type of team success that would allow us to look up and see Karl's jersey being hung up in the rafters. I reached out to a bunch of these guys, but I don't want to force relationships. You have to develop those things naturally. So, I've heard so many great things about him. I know how great a player he is on the court, but off the court it's been so consistent, just an unbelievably sweet guy that treats everyone in a really classy manner. ... I know he's good enough to win at a high-high level, and I know how much he cares about this city and this team, so I think that would be an unbelievably cool thing for Karl and this team that he only wears one jersey and we win a ton of games and we're old and fat and watch the jersey being hung in the rafters."

Towns was named to the All-NBA third team this season, which means he's eligible to sign a supermax extension worth $211 million over four years.

Bobby Marks @BobbyMarks42

Devin Booker and Karl Anthony-Towns are eligible to sign a four-year $211M super max extension this offseason. Both players have 2 years left on their contract and the extension would begin in 2024/25.<br> <br>The projected extension: $47.1M, $50.8M, $54.6M and $58.4M

John Wall and Russell Westbrook are by far the biggest cautionary tales for how rewarding a homegrown star with a supermax deal can backfire in a big way. Wall (four years, $171.1 million) and Westbrook (five years, $206.8 million) arguably have two of the worst contracts in the NBA.

When it comes to Towns, Minnesota's overall success—or lack thereof—since he arrived is a cause for concern as well if he's going to collect $50-plus million per year. The Wolves have made the playoffs twice in KAT's seven seasons, losing in the first round on each occasion.

Connelly's problem is that he can't afford to play hardball with a three-time All-Star. Minneapolis isn't a marquee free-agent destination, so losing Towns would almost certainly trigger a downturn for the franchise, even with Anthony Edwards' emergence as a bona fide star in his own right.

Speaking with Michael Scotto for the HoopsHype podcast, The Athletic's Jon Krawczynski explained why he thinks the situation remains pretty straightforward.

"I just don’t think there’s a whole lot of debate in terms of what they’re going to do," Krawczynski said of the Timberwolves. "I expect at some point this summer, there will be a big press conference saying Towns has signed a max deal, he’s one of our guys going forward, and they’re going to keep pushing forward."

Towns will be 28 when his next contract goes into effect, so there's clearly a risk in betting on the player he'll continue to be in his 30s. For now, he hasn't shown any signs of a forthcoming decline. He averaged 24.6 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists and shot 52.9 percent from the field in 2021-22.

For Connelly, giving KAT a supermax—or agreeing to something approaching supermax money—and sorting out the rest later is the best play.