The Knicks should act fast if they want to make a play for Timberwolves power forward Karl-Anthony Towns.
The 27-year-old big man’s services will be significantly more expensive next year when the supermax contract extension — a four-year, $224 million deal — he signed with Minnesota in July 2022 kicks in.
Towns, who’s been at the center of Knicks trade rumors for several months, will collect $36 million in 2023-24 in the final season of the five-year contract he signed in 2018.
His new deal will kick in during the 2024-25 season, when he’s set to earn $49 million.
NBA insider Tim MacMahon noted the $13 million salary jump during a recent installment of ESPN’s “The Hoop Collective” podcast, and suggested a potential Knicks-Towns union should happen this year to avoid contract issues.
“If you’re gonna trade Towns you probably wanna trade him this year when he’s making 36, not next year when he’s making 49,” MacMahon said
Towns’ total extension contract value is six years and $295 million.
Next season, the Timberwolves will owe $165 million to their top five players, including Towns, Anthony Edwards, Rudy Gobert, Jaden McDaniels and Naz Reid.
Edwards — who agreed to a five-year, $207 million designated rookie maximum deal in July — could earn up to $260 million if he makes an All-NBA team.
Offloading Towns could help keep Minnesota out of dipping into the luxury tax.
ESPN NBA insider Brian Windhorst said he isn’t sure the Timberwolves could get picks for Towns in a trade right now.
“After this season, regardless of the Wolves’ situation, any trade where you’re getting off of money is going to be a little bit harder because there are less teams that you can get off money with,” he said.
MacMahon explained that he believes “you can both make a basketball trade and a financial trade” with Towns.
“…If you can get a couple of really solid role players… who are on shorter-term deals, it might be something the Wolves would need to pounce on,” he said.
The Timberwolves might have a decision to make in terms of which of their two big men, Towns and Gobert, have the most trade value.
The Knicks are monitoring Towns’ situation with Minnesota, and should he hit the trade market, head coach Tom Thibodeau would welcome coaching him again.
Thibodeau coached the Timberwolves for two seasons in 2017-18 and 2018-19.
Towns, a three-time All-Star, has been with the Timberwolves for his entire career nine-season career.
In that span, the Timberwolves made three playoff appearances, but never made it out of the first round.
The Timberwolves are off to a hot start under the new ownership of Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez, who became full owners of Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx in March.
Minnesota is 5-0 at home and delivered the reigning champion Denver Nuggets its first loss of the season on Nov. 1.
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