BR Names Realistic Timberwolves Trade Partner, if They Blow Up Big Three for Luxury Tax Purposes

Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Timberwolves are currently in the midst of their most successful season in franchise history. Anthony Edwards is a legitimate superstar, and Rudy Gobert’s acquisition has resulted in another Defensive Player of the Year award. What do things look like this offseason as they build for another year?

The hope would be that the Minnesota Timberwolves aren’t looking at an offseason until they accomplish another eight wins. Facing the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals, dreams of an NBA Finals is just four wins away.

That dream took a hit last night when they lost game one at home, but as they reload for a better game 2 performance, turning the series back in their favor will come down to their big three, Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert.

Minnesota Timberwolves have decisions to make this offseason

If they win, Ant will be the next MJ, KAT will have repaired his “soft” image and Rudy will finally have finally put his playoff skeletons to bed. If they lose, we will hear questions all offseason about whether or not Wolves ownership is willing to pay $100 million in luxury tax penalties to keep the core of their roster together.

If Tim Connelly sticks around, his offseason PoBO decisions will center around Karl Anthony Towns. Whether or not he can be retained is probably an ownership decision, and where Glen Taylor falls in that equation, compared to Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore, remains to be seen.

No matter who is running the show and who is footing the bill, paying that type of penalty is a big decision for any NBA owner, which is why they have those penalties in place.

In 2023-24, only the Warriors ($177M), Clippers ($142M) and Suns ($69M) had to pay the type of luxury tax bills that the Wolves are looking at over the next couple of years, while they have three players (KAT, Ant, Rudy) on maximum contracts.

As of now, before the Wolves do anything else this offseason, they are scheduled to pay $49 million in luxury tax penalties, the second highest projection in the NBA behind the Phoenix Suns ($105M).

As you can see, neither the Clippers or Warriors are projected to stay in the luxury tax. That’s because it’s expensive. And the longer you stay in there, the more you pay (repeater tax).

Team23-24 Tax Bill24-25 Tax Bill
Golden State Warriors$177M$7M
Los Angeles Clippers$142M$0
Phoenix Suns$69M$105M
Milwaukee Bucks$51M$20M
Boston Celtics$40M$46M
Minnesota Timberwolves$0$49M

If they move on, Towns is the most likely to go, because he will bring the most back, given his age and unicorn abilities. Bleacher Report seems to think a team the Timberwolves would target, in that scenario, is the Golden State Warriors.

They have done business before (Wiggins/DLo) and the Warriors have the type assets Minnesota would apparently be looking for (Jonathan Kuminga, Brandin Podziemski and/or Moses Moody).

“Having this idea in the realistic category assumes the Warriors would be interested in Karl-Anthony Towns. That may sound like a bit of a stretch, but it wouldn’t be the first time that player and team were connected, and it still feels more likely than the Minnesota Timberwolves moving KAT.

With the way he and the Wolves are playing, a championship is very much in play. And if that happens, you can bet the organization, even if ownership is still in flux, will keep the starting five together.

If, however, the Dallas Mavericks win the conference finals in relatively short order, the front office might have to think about some luxury tax relief. The T-Wolves could get that salary relief, picks and some combination of Jonathan Kuminga, Brandin Podziemski and/or Moses Moody from Golden State.”

Bleacher Report

It would be hard to fathom Minnesota moving on from the last draft pick Flip Saunders made for the Timberwolves. Doing so, after he was a catalyst in multiple games vs the Denver Nuggets might be somewhat perplexing to many, but these tax penalties are no joke.

What if the Minnesota Timberwolves keep Karl-Anthony Towns and eat the tax payment?

And, if he does remain on roster, Minnesota will be held to minimum contract pickups in free agency. If that happens, BR likes Royce O’Neale as a possible option.

“At this point, given how well the Wolves have played this postseason, breaking up the core feels unlikely. They could turn instead to renouncing Kyle Anderson and signing a minimum-contract, title-chasing veteran to eat up some of his minutes.

Royce O’Neale would be an interesting option on that front. Though he doesn’t quite have the size or playmaking ability Anderson has, O’Neale can attack rotating defenses and distribute in a pinch. And he competes on the defensive end.”

Bleacher Report

It seems unlikely that anyone would be too bent out of shape by Anderson being jettisoned, and the Timberwolves could certainly be better for it. How they replace his minutes is something they’ll need to figure out, but multiple options exist on that front.

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