By signing Karl-Anthony Towns to a five year possible maximum contract, Minnesota Timberwolves have chosen the option best suited to the team’s interest.
The team has chosen seemingly endless future rewards over present short sighted and somewhat limited rewards. Keeping Towns in town for the next five seasons beyond the 2018-2019 season gives Minnesota assurance of having a future Most Valuable Player Award winner on its roster in the foreseeable future.
Towns qualifies for the $190 million on offer should he make another All NBA Team appearance or win the league’s Defensive Player of the Year Award next season. Towns’ signing is a clear signal Minnesota will trade disgruntled star Jimmy Butler who has requested to leave the club.
His major reason behind the trade request is his unhappiness with Towns and Andrew Wiggins approach to the game. Many believe Butler is of the view Minnesota can’t take on elite sides like Golden State Warriors when two of Timberwolves top dogs are in fact puppies.
To a large extent, Butler’s assertion is right considering Towns disappeared in his first playoff series last season and Wiggins desire to win have been questioned so much so Minnesota’s top hierarchy hesitated handing him a maximum contract.
Butler’s timeline to contend for a Championship is really short since he turns 30 years next year and has played a lot of minutes since his Most Improved Player Award 2013 season.
But Minnesota can’t sacrifice its future to be competitive for a few seasons looking at the length of time it needed to have a solid foundation to build on in the first place. In Towns and Wiggins, Timberwolves have two of the best players in the league below 24 and further development and shrewd acquisitions gives them realistic chances of winning an NBA title.
Defending NBA Champions Golden State Warriors model of winning [making the right draft picks-Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green- and signing game changers Andre Iguodala and Kevin Durant] should be copied by Minnesota. Despite the mutual interest for a trade between Minnesota and Butler, Timberwolves are yet to make a serious move given the lack of ample trade assets by initial interested teams.
Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks have very few intriguing pieces to make up for the loss of Butler in a trade deal. However, further development since the news broke should get Minnesota excited looking at new interested teams with a wealth of young talented players with cheaper contracts available. Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers have shown interest in trading for Butler but Miami Heat per reports, have the biggest interest.
Heat’s major interest in Butler is good news for Timberwolves since the returns in a possible trade are good compared to those from Nets, Clippers, Cavaliers and Knicks. Minnesota needs to get Butler off its roster and Heat needs to move some members off its bloated list of Guards on the roster. In a feasible scenario, Heat could offer Josh Richardson, Wayne Ellington and Dion Waiters for Butler’s services.
Ideally, Tyler Johnson should headline Heat’s package for Butler but Johnson is set to receive $19 million for this season and the next before his contract expires. This makes it difficult for Minnesota to include him in a trade since Wiggins will be paid $25 million in the first year of his five year $146 million contract. The final year in Johnson’s deal pays him $19 million in Wiggins second year and Towns first year which is the reason for Ellington’s inclusion. Ellington signed a one year deal with Miami worth $6.2 million for one of last season’s efficient Shooting Guards who contributed 11.2 points.
Minnesota was ready to give Butler $26 million for the next four years beyond this season but he turned it down. That long term space easily accommodates Richardson’s $10 million average salary for the next four years and Waiters $12 million average wage for the next three seasons. Minnesota doesn’t have many options at Shooting Guard at the moment since Jamal Crawford-Butler’s backup is a free agent intent on signing with another team. By trading Butler for Richardson, Ellington and Waiters, Minnesota gets three Shooting Guards on its roster.
In Richardson, Coach Tom Thibodeau gets a younger version of Butler who thrives on defense, scored 12.9 points last season-and is likely to improve on that mark- and can play at Small Forward. Given the extent of injuries, Derrick Rose doesn’t figure to play many years in the league and Waiters would then have two more years to play on his deal. Such a trade gives Minnesota long term security on top of those from Towns and Wiggins, a younger team with similar timelines as its star duo and lower financial cost considering higher amounts the team needed to keep Butler around beyond this season.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter