Trading Karl-Anthony Towns for Kevin Durant Makes Too Much Sense to Ignore

Kevin Durant, Karl-Anthony Towns : Minnesota Timberwolves at Phoenix Suns
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Timberwolves just wrapped up their most successful season in decades, and while the way it finished wasn’t how they wanted, it’s hard to be disappointed in the overall body of work

It did become wildly apparent against the Dallas Mavericks, however, that the Timberwolves have some offensive deficiencies they need to iron out, especially late in games, if they want to be an NBA Finals team next season.

Anthony Edwards needs more backcourt help. A partner who makes it impossible for defenses to focus all of their attention on stopping him. In theory, Karl Anthony Towns was supposed to play Robin to the Wolves’ Ant-Man. But as a front court player, he’s often taken out of games way too easily.

Throughout the duration of the Wolves’ first round series against the Phoenix Suns, none of that was an issue. Minnesota swept Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Bradley Beal and the Suns like they were an overpriced lampshade that had just shattered on the floor.

For most of the series, storylines revolved around Anthony Edwards taking the torch from Kevin Durant as a face of the National Basketball Association. The Timberwolves’ 22-year-old blossoming superstar has made it well known just how much he looks up to the future Hall of Famer and, by the end of the series, Durant was crowning Edwards too.

So as both teams look to shuffle their roster and navigate separate but dire luxury tax situations this offseason, it’s worth taking a look at just how much sense it might make for the Timberwolves to try swapping some very expensive pieces with their 2024 first round foe.

Will Phoenix Suns trade Kevin Durant this offseason?

The Phoenix Suns are in a similar position to the Minnesota Timberwolves in that they are living in luxury tax hell. I take that back, the Suns’ situation ($126 million projected luxury tax bill) is much, much worse than the Wolves’ ($51 million projected luxury tax bill).

Not only does Phoenix have double the projected tax payment in 2024-25 (easily highest in the NBA), but they are working with a roster that clearly needs to be revamped following an embarrassing showing in the Playoffs.

minnesota timberwolves, phoenix suns, trade rumors, kevin durant, karl-anthony towns

No doubt, the plan is to break up their current “big three” of Durant, Booker and Beal. The problem with trading Beal is that he has a full no-trade clause. It’s also unlikely they move the 27-year-old Booker, who’s become the face of that franchise. And that leaves the 35-year-old Durant as the most likely star to go.

So, when the Suns start shopping their stars this summer, is it possible the Wolves make sense as a partner? Yes… a lot of sense. Let’s dig into why. Let’s start with talent. Could the Suns get a player-for-player trade offer that lands them more talent than Karl-Anthony Towns? Good luck.

Does trading Karl-Anthony Towns for Kevin Durant make sense?

Because the Suns and Wolves are both in the 2nd apron of the luxury tax, any trade for either team this offseason will have to match nearly dollar for dollar and player for player.

The Suns can’t trade Durant to Team X and receive two players back, to help get equal salaries going in and out. But KAT and KD cost nearly the same amount next season, making the swap easy for the NBA trade machine. Straight up, the trade goes through swimmingly.

Think Phoenix needs more back? Fine, send them Nickeil Walker-Alexander and this year’s No. 27 pick. Is that too much? Okay, adjust it the other way. Those alterations are easy to make because the two key pieces, KAT and KD have salaries that match so perfectly.

It’s not just the dollars that make sense here. So do the years. Towns is starting the first year of a brand new super max contract, meaning he has four guaranteed years left at max value. Durant, on the other hand, only has two years of his super max contract remaining, before he becomes a free agent (at age 37).

A deal like this would give Phoenix two legitimate pieces, in the middle of their primes, to build their new-look team around, in Devin Booker and Karl-Anthony Towns, who also happen to be best friends. If you are going to have two max players on a “rebuilding” team, you want them to be in their mid-late 20’s (like Booker and Towns), not mid-late 30’s.

What about Bradley Beal? That’s a legitimate question, given he has a no-trade clause. But Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishba isn’t going to rebuild the old fashioned way. As long as the long-term vision makes sense, he will pay for it.

Again, if the Suns decide to separate their big three or Durant asks for a trade, then it’s not about whether or not Phoenix would deal him, it’s about what they can get back. And KAT is a lot to get back for an aging superstar far beyond his prime.

For Minnesota Timberwolves, Kevin Durant is the missing piece

In Kevin Durant, the Wolves would get exactly what they need in a variety of ways. They would pair Anthony Edwards with his favorite player of all time and someone who can teach him how to win, how to prepare and how to navigate an NBA Finals run. He’d be a lot like what Kyrie has been to Luka this year, except better.

In fact, there’s probably nobody better suited to help lift Edwards to “face of the NBA” status than his role model. Not only that, but the addition of Durant would give the Wolves another superstar ball handler who would make it near impossible to double team and trap Ant when he gets rolling.

Related: Kevin Durant Finally Admits His Love and Admiration for Anthony Edwards

In other words, Durant would provide the Timberwolves exactly what he doesn’t provide the Suns. In Minnesota, his age would play as a positive, not negative. Edwards would immediately be given a boost in the form of a confidant and tested player who can fill it up offensively even in the latter stages of his career.

Minnesota Timberwolves Have Ready Made Replacements

In moving Karl-Anthony Towns the Minnesota Timberwolves would need to replace his production in the starting lineup. It’s hard not to view Naz Reid as an immediate successor, and with the ability to stretch the floor similar to Towns, with a deep shot in his bag, any drop-off shouldn’t be assumed to be substantial.

Related: Thibs Might be the Only Obstacle Blocking a Karl-Anthony Towns Trade to New York

This summer Edwards will play for Team USA during the Olympics in Paris. Durant is also on that team, and pairing them as teammates going into the upcoming season seems like something Tim Connelly should be on the lookout for, as he watches thos Paris games unfold.

If the Minnesota Timberwolves want to make a repeat run at the Western Conferences Finals, and ultimately a Larry O’Brien Trophy, then figuring out how to shuffle a couple of things around is the most logical pathway to making it happen. And no doubt, adding Kevin Durant could be the exact shuffle needed.

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