Timberwolves

Trading KAT Doesn't Solve the Wolves' Problems

Photo Credit: David Berding (USA TODAY Sports)

A 3-1 start to the season for the Minnesota Timberwolves has quickly morphed into a free fall. They have lost eight of their last nine games, and many are searching for answers now that they’re 4-9. Another disappointing season looks like it’s on the horizon.

There is a contingency of Wolves fans who want to trade Karl-Anthony Towns. That won’t solve the riddle.

The two-time All-Star is in his seventh season in the NBA. He’s a former No. 1 overall pick who is expected to carry this franchise to heights it hasn’t seen in quite some time. We’re talking playoffs — ideally, more than once every 14 years.

Towns has played in the postseason, but it was a first-round exit in the 2017-18 season. Not only were the Wolves bounced from the playoffs in five games, but Jimmy Butler will be remembered for bringing Minnesota to the postseason for the first time since the 2003-04 season. KAT contributed to that team, but conventional wisdom is that they wouldn’t have been a playoff team without Butler. Leading into this season, there was some optimism that they had the roster around KAT for them to sneak into the play-in game.

Anthony Edwards has shown up in a significant way, and with D’Angelo Russell finally being healthy to start the year, there weren’t many excuses left. With Minnesota now sitting at 4-9, some fans have suggested that the time is now for the Wolves trade Towns and get a haul back.

It’s not.

To suggest that trading Towns is a solution is saying that he is either a problem or not an answer for this franchise and that it’s time to move on. There may be some truth in suggesting that it’s getting close to having run its course. However, there is no quick-fix solution for what’s going on in Minnesota.

Towns is averaging 23.2 points and 9.6 rebounds per game this year. He’s shooting an absurd 45 percent from downtown. There will be a pod of people who suggest that these are empty numbers. However, who the hell could they get in place of KAT to not only fill the statistical void but help in the wins and losses department?

That’s where the “trade KAT” argument collapses on itself.

It’s easy to sit back and push the general manager buttons from the couch. Now it’s being done out of malice. Everyone who supports this team wants to see tangible results that aren’t ephemeral. With another slow start staring this team dead in the eyes, it’s easy to say “trade Towns.” But what does that solve? Not a whole lot. In fact, it could signal another rebuild.

Minnesota isn’t going to trade Towns and get a player of equal value in return.

Ben Simmons‘ name has hovered around since the summer. However, it’s going to be hard to convince many fans that Simmons could come in and lead the charge in turning things around. Ask the Philadelphia 76ers how the whole leadership thing with Simmons is playing out.

What about Damian Lillard? What if the Wolves send KAT to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Dame? Does Lillard instantly make this team a threat in the Western Conference? The Blazers have been eliminated in the first round in four of the last five years. If the goal is to dip your toes in the water, then sure, Lillard being a primary ball-handler and a proven sniper in crunch time would boost the fortunes of this team compared to what KAT has or hasn’t been able to do. The overall theme remains the same, though. Let’s not act like trading Towns is a panacea.

There will be a lot of big-boy decisions to make if Minnesota doesn’t make the playoffs and ends up under .500 again. If they ultimately decide that things have run their course with KAT and that a fresh start could do wonders for both sides, then so be it. In that instance, cutting ties could be the right decision. Maybe they decide that they believe Towns isn’t an answer to the future of the franchise. Perhaps they are better off by trading him to get proven talent in return that will swiftly change the successes of the organization. Good luck with that.

After the 3-1 start, it looked like Towns, and the Wolves were finally clicking. They were finally healthy and bringing those good vibes onto the court. After this recent debacle, many have sided with the idea of trading KAT.

Maybe it will be time for a new start at the end of the year. But don’t expect winning results to follow just because the superstar player was turned into a pawn on the chessboard.

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