Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns is set to begin his first NBA season as a holder of a max-level contract. Towns’ five-year, $190 million extension is set to kick in once the 2019-20 season starts and while the payday is going to be massive, hopes of his team making the playoffs are not.
And that’s why Towns has his eyes set on Louisville native and first-time All-Star D’Angelo Russell of the Brooklyn Nets. According to an interview by Jordan Zirm over at Dime UPROXX, Towns was not shy about his connection with the former Ohio State star. Russell is set to be a free agent this summer.
Here’s a brief excerpt from the article:
Zirm: “You’ve been vocal about the Timberwolves having a chance to make major improvements via free agency. You’ve done some D’Angelo Russell whispering on Instagram. Have you paid attention to all the player movement and rumors this summer?”
Towns: “Yes. I pay very close attention to free agency. And D’Angelo is not getting whispers, he’s getting more of a yell from a microphone. This is a big free agency period for us as an organization, so we’re taking every step and exploring every avenue.”
This isn’t just a *big* free agency period for the Wolves, it might be the most important in franchise history. With everything that has happened recently with superstars and trade demands (Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard), it’s not out of the question that Towns could one day follow suit and demand a trade of his own if Minny doesn’t build a contender around him soon. Milwaukee is already dealing with that potential threat with its own generational talent of Giannis Antetokounmpo. Minnesota forward Andrew Wiggins clearly isn’t the No. 2 two option that many had prepared for and now the Wolves are desperate for another star.
Russell is coming off his best season as a pro, putting up career-highs of 21.1 points, 7.0 assists, 43.4 percent shooting from the field, and 36.9 percent shooting from deep. He made the All-Star team for the East and will surely be one of the top three finishers for the Most Improved Player award. At 23-years old, this version of Russell is the one that the Lakers envisioned when they drafted him back in 2015 (Russell went No. 2, Towns went No. 1). Now it’s a matter of him being able to repeat his magical season, whether it be in Brooklyn or with a team like Minnesota.
Towns also discussed in the interview how he and Russell have always dreamed of playing alongside each other:
Zirm: “How long have you known Russell?”
Towns: “Forever. Me and D’Angelo have known each other for a very long time. We’ve talked about how much we want to play with each other, not even just in the NBA or college, but in high school. Who would’ve thought we’re at this moment now.”
(So why didn’t he come to Kentucky, Karl?)
The pairing makes sense from a personal standpoint and building around those two players is not a bad way to begin a solid streak of basketball. The holes will be obvious – neither player is a plus-defender – but the benefits could be advantageous. We already know how good KAT is going to be, and if Russell can replicate his 2018-19 season for years to come, this is the workings of a dangerous high-low duo. The pick-and-roll between those two would be a literal work of art (which is a good time to remind everyone that not all art is beautiful).
Can you think of a more odd Kentucky connection than Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Rusell playing basketball in Minnesota? Whatever. I’m here for it.