The Houston Rockets know how fast a franchise player can turn into a franchise cancer. When the Timberwolves fired their President of Basketball operations, Gersson Rosas, on the eve of the NBA season, their franchise player, Karl-Anthony Towns, summed up the world’s reaction with just three words.
While Towns hasn’t demanded a trade, the tweet has set off a firestorm of speculation. Rosas had been building the organization around Towns. He made one of the worst trades in recent history to bring Towns’ good friend D’Angelo Russell to Minnesota. He fired Ryan Saunders mid-season and brought in his replacement, Chris Finch, an unheard-of move in the NBA. Rosas’ track record wasn’t flawless, nor was his behavior, but he made it clear to Minnesota’s star man that he would be supported.
If Karl-Anthony Towns becomes available it would set the NBA on fire. Towns is one of the best young players in the league, although injury and illness have made people forget just how good he is. Since the 2017-18 season, in 244 games Towns has averaged 23.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists a game on 51.7-percent shooting from the field and 40.4-percent 3-point shooting.
Karl-Anthony Towns will turn 26 in November, is seven feet tall, and shoots the rock like Larry Bird. If he hadn’t been playing for a dysfunctional franchise in Minnesota he’d be one of the most famous basketball players in the world. People routinely ask if he’s a winning player. They did the same thing with Anthony Davis, and then they stopped when he went from a sad-sack franchise to a proven winner.
A championship-caliber team can be built around Karl-Anthony Towns. The Rockets are one of the most proven and successful franchises in the NBA. Here are three trades the Rockets can make to bring Towns to H-Town.
Houston Rockets: Karl-Anthony Towns trade #3
If you’re a Rockets fan you’re saying no to this deal. If you’re Rafael Stone, you’re saying no to this deal. So why even suggest it? Well, because the Timberwolves would most likely say yes to it.
NBA trades aren’t one-way streets and this type of package highlights how valuable Karl-Anthony Towns is. He’s a bonafide top-25 player, in his prime, and under contract for multiple seasons. The Timberwolves aren’t parting with that unless they get a mountain of draft picks or a young player with superstar potential.
Including Jalen Green would drop the price tag for Towns significantly. Pairing him and Anthony Edwards in Minnesota would give the franchise one of the most dynamic young backcourts the league has ever seen.
Eric Gordon would need to be included for salary purposes and the two draft picks, Brooklyn and Milwaukee’s 2023 firsts, are simply throw-ins. That’s just how valuable Jalen Green is. He could almost land Towns in a one-for-one swap, which is exactly why the Rockets wouldn’t entertain this deal, but the Wolves would.
Houston Rockets: Karl-Anthony Towns trade #2
Christian Wood, D.J. Augustin, David Nwaba, plus three first-round picks could be enough to entice the Wolves to bite. The team takes a step back, but not a massive one, and gets three first-round picks to play with. The Rockets lose a little depth and a few assets, but they change their long-term projections in a hurry.
If Christian Wood was a Pokemon, Karl-Anthony Towns would be his evolved form. He has many of the same characteristics and traits but is better and bigger. Perhaps, the Rockets believe that Wood has more internal development but it’s unlikely he’ll ever become as good as current-day Towns.
Losing David Nwaba would hurt, he’s an excellent defensive player, but if moving him to get Towns is a no-brainer for every franchise in the league. Augustin is included for salary purposes, and the draft picks give the Wolves a chance to rebuild quickly.
A team built around Karl-Anthony Towns and Jalen Green could be one of the most potent offenses in the league. Usman Garuba projects as a perfect frontcourt partner for Towns, and if Kevin Porter Jr takes the leap, the Rockets might be a playoff team as soon as this year.
Blowing up a rebuild too early to make a win-now decision can be perilous. However, Towns is the type of player worth doing that for, and if the Rockets can keep Green, it’s a deal they need to explore.
Houston Rockets: Karl-Anthony Towns trade #1
This is a deal dreamt up in Rockets’ heaven. The Rockets send John Wall and four first-round picks to Minessota and get Karl-Anthony Towns and Patrick Beverly. The Rockets are able to ditch a horrible contract and bring in a franchise player. A billion times out of billion times, Rafael Stone signs off on this deal.
While this deal would provide the Timberwolves two juicy assets, it’s hard to imagine they’d take up the Rockets offer. Chances are, with Towns in Houston, those 2023 and 2027 picks won’t be in the top-10, and the Nets and Bucks picks aren’t going to be in the lottery unless significant injuries afflict multiple of their stars. Needless to say, Wall is not exactly a valuable trade asset and would cost the Timberwolves close to $47 million next season. Why on Earth would the Timberwolves say yes to this deal? There’s a chance better offers aren’t available, and there’s the chance they want to go into a full-on tank.
The Rockets offer makes sure the Timberwolves are bad next season and positions them to be able to build through the draft. Landing a few solid players for Towns likely doesn’t make the Wolves a playoff team, but it also probably keeps them out of the top five. Plus, in a deal like this, Towns would just be the first domino to fall. D’Angelo Russell and any veteran with a pulse would likely be moved in short order.
This deal would be the best outcome for the Rockets and a massive disappointment for the Timberwolves. If a deal like this is a possibility, then Karl-Anthony Towns is as good as a Rocket.