Minnesota Mix Up

Updated: May 29, 2022

Outside of small flashes of greatness created by The Big Ticket, the Minnesota Timberwolves franchise has basically been synonymous with failure. But with new ownership led by Mar Lore and the infamous homerun hitting short-stop Alex Rodriguez, the T-Wolves may have made their first steps towards success with an upgrade in their front office. Stolen right out of current employment in Denver, Minnesota has signed ex-Nuggets General Manager, Tim Connelly. On the precipice of the unsavory Michael Porter Jr. max extension kicking in, Connelly was lured out of Denver with a contract that doubled his previous salary and promised possible ownership shares in the T-Wolves.

Other than the MPJ max extension that is now colored by his season-ending injury and 3rd major back surgery, the Denver Nuggets front office has been widely regarded as one of the best-run franchises, especially for a small market lacking free agency appeal. They have been excellent at talent evaluation and discovering unpolished gems in the draft and have made excellent use of surrounding their MVP with a solid supporting cast…that is up until this season that was deterred by the MPJ and Jamal Murray injuries. 

With Minnesota flexing their wallets with a 10 million dollar a year payout to their new president of basketball operations, A-Rod and company are proving to be willing to spend to transform this historically plagued franchise into a true contender. There has been recent optimism around NBA circles about their developing roster, specifically tied to their explosive 2-guard built like a tank, Anthony Edwards. 

For the last half decade-plus, Karl Anthony Towns has been the Wolves’ prized possession. Only a few years back, KAT was chosen in a poll by NBA executives as the player they would select 1 in a draft of current players to start a franchise with. Unfortunately, for Minnesota and Towns, it is highly unlikely he would crack the top 20 with how much high-end young talent has been recently infused into the league. Fortunately, though, it is possible that Ant-Man, Anthony Edwards would be one of the more coveted assets to start a franchise with, equip with god-given gifts of physical dominance, speed, and a seemingly unwavering level of confidence.

The assumption by the previous Wolves front office was that KAT at only 26 could mature into the vicious feline everyone had hoped he’d become as Edwards grew into a formable young bucket getter. But Ant-Man has proven to have exceeded the expectations tied to the poor 2020 draft while Towns’ performance in the play-in tournament was at times embarrassing due to his inability to stay out of foul trouble and keep himself emotionally sound. 

Minnesota has done everything in its power to accommodate Big KAT, most notably the now tragic Wiggins/Golden State/Kuminga exchange for Towns’ BFF, D’Angelo Russell. Yet, since his rookie of the year accolades in 2016, there has been little to show for their efforts. Although being one of the most elite 3-point threats from distance for any 7-footer in history, Towns’ inability to protect the rim or bang with other dominant bigs leaves the question of what he really is…

Is he a modern 7-foot center who can space the floor for the ascending Anthony Edwards OR is he an oversized wing, who although is an obviously dominant offensive weapon, really has no suitable place on the defensive end? When building a roster that utilizes a stretch big, the ideal formula is that your closing 5 has no-non shooters on the floor, while still maintaining the rim protection provided by your 7-footer. That equation gets discombobulated though when the big on the floor is not a true paint protector and can be abused by like-sized centers or crafty finishing guards at the basket. 

Towns has made serious strides this year, and at times looked as if some of these narratives should be reevaluated. However, in their moments on the big stage and their opportunities in the play-in to make the postseason, I can’t imagine that A-Rod or new president of basketball operations Tim Connelly thought to themselves, “This is the centerpiece of a championship roster.” KAT has often been called Charmin Soft due to his inability to protect the paint and his recent emotional instability in the play-in didn’t help shed this unsavory description. 

There have been several transparent reports of the Wolves’ wishes to trade D’Angelo Russell, however, there has been little traction on an exchange that would substantially upgrade their roster. At 31 million owed next year, the current DLO deal seems to unanimously be seen as a bad asset that has little to no value without draft capital attached to it, but at least he’s on an expiring. Instead of making a short-sided deal that mortgages Minnesota’s future in a desperate attempt to make the playoffs, they instead should center their timeline around the Ant-Man and attempt to sell high on the 1-way big of Karl Anthony Towns.