The Source of Karl-Anthony Towns' Unhappiness?
Last Friday, ESPN's Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst both helped spark the rumor that Towns is unhappy with the Minnesota franchise and potentially could be traded in the offseason. Lowe said Towns and the Wolves were "not in a good place internally", while Windhorst was quoted saying “I don’t think Anthony Davis is going anywhere any time soon. But Karl Towns … now that might be a different story”.
While it is true that both of these reporters are well versed in breaking news around the NBA, the notion that Towns goes anywhere is farfetched. Karl-Anthony is still on his rookie contract; the Timberwolves have him locked in for 2 more years at about $7 million per season if they take the team option on the final year (which they will). That is incredibly cheap for a player who will certainly demand a max contract as soon as it is extension time. Additionally, the Wolves can offer significantly more than any other team if he decided to go elsewhere. Most rookies sign the extension with the team who drafted them simply because it is so much more lucrative than signing elsewhere. So, if it isn't money that is fueling these rumors, what else could it be?
It's pretty safe to say that the Timberwolves underachieved this year. Though they tallied 47 wins and got to the playoffs for the first time in 13 years, the acquisition of Jimmy Butler had experts and fans alike assuming that they were a lock for home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. With Butler going down to injury late in the season, the Wolves barely hung on to the 8th seed, fending off the Denver Nuggets only to run into and be steamrolled by the 65 win Houston Rockets in the first round. Yes, the 2017-18 season showed promise for the young team, but the season was filled with speculation that coach Tom Thibodeau and his players were at odds; calling out both Towns and SF Andrew Wiggins for lack of enthusiasm on more than one occasion.
Thibodeau, heralded around the league as a brilliant defensive-minded coach, may be outdated when it comes to X's and O's. Though the Timberwolves were a top team offensively when in rhythm, the playcalling in the fourth quarter was abysmal and may have even lost the team games. Thibs is notorious for overplaying his favorite players, which leads to confusion amongst the roster in regard to which role it is each player is to play. His defensive scheme is even in question at this point - the wolves were 22nd in the leage at defending the 3 point line as his ICE defense against the pick and role constantly leaves open swing passes on the perimeter for easy shots (a no-no in today's NBA). Lastly, have we ever seen Thibodeau sitting down and NOT yelling at his players during each game?
The truth is, there are always issues internally in professional sports. With so many moving pieces, it's special when a team is all on the same page (those teams generally win titles). Towns may be unhappy with the way that Thibodeau is running the team due to the aforementioned points. It would be a good thing if they sat down and ironed out any differences they had to move on and start competing for a championship. If this could not be done, in most cases in the NBA where the star and coach are at odds, the coach is always the one to get the boot. Though Towns played poorly versus Clint Capela and company in the first round of the playoffs, make no mistake that he is a star in this league. If anyone is to go this offseason, it might be Tom Thibodeau.