Trade Packages and Landing Spots for Timberwolves Star Karl-Anthony Towns

Greg Swartz@@CavsGregBRCleveland Cavaliers Lead WriterDecember 31, 2019

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 02: Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics defends Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves at TD Garden on January 02, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. 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. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Karl-Anthony Towns is one of the NBA's best young talents, a two-time All-Star putting up numbers the league has never seen before.

According to a recent report, he's also not thrilled about playing for yet another lottery-bound Minnesota Timberwolves team.

Per Ethan Strauss of The Athletic, the Golden State Warriors are monitoring Towns' situation in Minnesota, with multiple team executives saying the 24-year-old center is "unhappy" playing with the Wolves.

If Minnesota were to make Towns available, his value would be astronomical due to both his production and long-term contract. The Los Angeles Lakers had to give up a king's ransom for Anthony Davis even though he's on an expiring contract (player option). Towns doesn't carry Davis' elite defensive skills, but he's arguably even more versatile on offense and is in the first season of a five-year, $158.3 million extension.

Any team acquiring him would immediately get one of the best centers in the league along with a contract that takes him through his age-28 season, around the time at which players usually hit their primes. Now in Year 5, Towns is averaging a career-high 26.5 points on 51.4/41.8/79.6 shooting splits to go along with 11.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.3 blocks per game.

He's also up to 8.5 three-point attempts per contest and is the only player in NBA history to average at least 25 points and 11 rebounds while shooting no worse than 40 percent from three-point range.

Even though the Warriors may be monitoring Towns, they likely don't have the assets to get a deal done. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson aren't going anywhere. Draymond Green shouldn't interest a rebuilding Timberwolves team, and D'Angelo Russell isn't enough to spark a serious conversation. The Wolves tried to execute a sign-and-trade for Russell in the summer of 2019 to pair with his friend Towns, so giving one up to get the other doesn't make much sense.

Those calling about Towns better have a wealth of draft picks and young talents to offer, and the following three teams can put together the best realistic trade packages.


Atlanta Hawks

John Amis/Associated Press

Timberwolves Receive: PF John Collins, SF Cam Reddish, SG Kevin Huerter, SG Allen Crabbe, 2020 first-round pick (lottery-protected via Brooklyn Nets), 2022 1st-round pick (lottery-protected via Oklahoma City Thunder)

Hawks Receive: C Karl-Anthony Towns

When trying to get a player like Towns, only franchise point guard Trae Young should be off the table for Atlanta.

The Hawks have one of the best young cores and draft-pick compilations in the NBA despite owning the league's worst record at 7-27, and they could become a serious playoff threat in the East next season. Pairing Young and Towns would be a dream scenario, especially if they could keep 2019 No. 4 overall pick De'Andre Hunter between them. 

Of course, this would mean gutting the rest of the young core, including Collins (18.3 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, 36.8 percent from three), Reddish (8.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.0 steals) and Huerter (9.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 34.8 percent from three). All are between 20 and 22 years old and would give Minnesota a terrific young core alongside Andrew Wiggins and Jarrett Culver.

Crabbe carries an expiring $18.5 million salary, and two first-round picks (including one from Brooklyn that should convey near the middle of this summer's draft) would help the Timberwolves add even more young talent.

The Hawks would get to keep all their own picks while maintaining max cap space this summer. Atlanta should already be an attractive destination simply for the chance to play with Young, and adding Towns for recruiting efforts should help seal some deals.

The two young stars could play together as some of the NBA's top players for the next decade.


Boston Celtics

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 23: Gordon Hayward #20 and Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics look on against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center on October 23, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and a
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Timberwolves Receive: F Jayson Tatum, F Gordon Hayward, SG Carsen Edwards, C Robert Williams III, 2020 first-round pick (lottery-protected)

Celtics Receive: C Karl-Anthony Towns, C Gorgui Dieng

If center is a weakness for the Celtics, this trade would make it a strength.

Boston struck out on an Anthony Davis deal but could now acquire a younger, more offensively skilled big man out of Kentucky in Towns. And unlike Davis, there'd be no fear of losing him to free agency after one season, either.

The Celtics have incredible depth on the wing but no one to counter big men like Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Pascal Siakam in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Towns would change that.

The price, of course, would be steep. Minnesota should justifiably ask for either Tatum or Jaylen Brown as a starting point. The former has made a big jump in Year 3, giving the Celtics 21.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.3 steals in his 34.1 minutes per game.

Still, Tatum alone isn't enough for Towns.

Edwards and Williams would give the Timberwolves a scoring spark in the backcourt and an elite shot-blocker to build around, and Hayward (16.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists) could help Minnesota stay competitive now before turning into a massive expiring salary ($34.2 million player option) next season.

While Boston might hate to include him in a deal, Hayward's salary is necessary to make the money work, especially if it wants to keep Marcus Smart. The Celtics would give up their own first-round pick this season but keep the invaluable 2020 selection from the Memphis Grizzlies, which is protected for the top six picks but becomes unprotected in 2021. 

For the Wolves, Tatum would be an immediate star to build around who's still on a rookie contract. He may be the best young player they could get back in a deal involving Towns.

Minnesota would also shed the contract of Dieng, who's owed $17.3 million next season.


Brooklyn Nets

BROOKLYN, NY - OCTOBER 23: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets and Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves shake hands before the game on October 23, 2019 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges a
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

Timberwolves Receive: PG Spencer Dinwiddie, SF Caris LeVert, C Jarrett Allen, SG Joe Harris, 2020 1st-round pick (lottery-protected via Philadelphia 76ers)

Nets Receive: Karl-Anthony Towns

Talk about a Big Three.

While the Nets would effectively be punting on the 2019-20 season, they'd likely be considered the favorites to come out of the East next year. Pairing Towns with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving would create perhaps the league's best trio, one even better than the version with which Irving won a championship in Cleveland, assuming Durant's Achilles injury heals properly.

Brooklyn's depth would take a hit, but that may not matter with three players all capable of averaging at least 25 points per game. The Nets would still have Taurean Prince, DeAndre Jordan and Garrett Temple under contract for next season, and plenty of veterans would likely jump on board for the chance at a championship.

This trade would give the Wolves franchise pieces at point guard with Dinwiddie (26.0 points, 7.2 assists, 3.5 rebounds in 21 games as a starter), at center with Allen (12.0 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, 65.5 field-goal percentage) and on the wing with LeVert (16.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 36.1 three-point percentage).

Harris remains one of the NBA's best three-point shooters (43.0 percent on 6.3 attempts), and an extra first-round pick in this summer's draft would help speed up the reboot.

The Nets should already be one of the best teams in the East next season, and trading for Towns would certainly make them the most talented.

This trade wouldn't give Minnesota the best collection of young talents or draft picks, but it would instead provide four strong players yet to hit their primes, all of whom are on good contracts.


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