Karl-Anthony Towns notched another dominant performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday (33 points, 10 rebounds), but he mentioned his nagging wrist injury in the postgame press conference. He took a shot to his sore wrist in the first half but shook it off to finish the game. If the injury persists, though, should the Minnesota Timberwolves consider shutting down their superstar?
The Wolves are in a tricky spot. They have the worst record in the NBA, yet they might be looking to add a name at the deadline who could stay around for a while, someone like Aaron Gordon or John Collins. This would be a future-forward move in the bigger picture but would still make the Wolves buyers at the deadline alongside other teams in win-now mode. They’ll have to juggle all of that while still waiting for D’Angelo Russell to return from his surgery and for Malik Beasley to serve his suspension. With the Wolves’ record being what it is, you’d assume there’d be no rush.
There is an urgency of sorts to get the complete group out on the court to see how they work together. Anthony Edwards and Towns have been vibing recently, feeding off one another and providing mind-boggling game logs. But what will it look like when Russell and Beasley are back in the fold? This lost season is the perfect opportunity to test themselves under new head coach Chris Finch. It gives these guys reps together with no pressure to produce wins. The goal is to find chemistry together within Finch’s scheme. Once Russell and Beasley are back, it would seemingly be the perfect time for the Wolves to figure that out.
But KAT’s lingering wrist injury is worrisome. He said that he wouldn’t participate in these games if he felt he wasn’t in a physical state to play. While that’s all fine and dandy, Towns could fall into the trap many players do of being so competitive that he ignores his injury. The worst-case scenario for the Wolves is that Towns continues to play in a lost season, the wrist continues to bother him, and he aggravates it to the point that treatment and rehab extend into next season. It sounds extreme, but it’s not impossible.
Hearing Towns say that the wrist hurt the most it has since he came back has to concern the front office. You’d like to think they would handle it the same if Minnesota was in the thick of a playoff push, but that’s not how things work. And while everyone is still waiting for Towns and Russell to play together for more than a couple of games, Finch and Gersson Rosas need to keep the bigger picture in mind. If injury woes from this season drag on into next year, you might as well kiss next season goodbye too.
That’s the pickle the Wolves find themselves in. It’s been enjoyable watching Edwards and Towns find a rhythm and start to figure each other out. It will be even more reassuring if it all works out when Russell and Beasley return. There’s no doubt the Wolves have to be closely monitoring Towns’ wrist. They’d be silly not to. And if he can continue to play through it without worsening the situation, roll the ball out and let it fly. But if Minnesota’s big man is in constant pain, they have to shut him down.