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Earlier this season, The Athletic’s Ethan Strauss reported that the Warriors were “monitoring” Karl-Anthony Towns despite the fact that the big man is under contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves through 2024.
This week, Gersson Rosas, Minnesota’s president of basketball operations, said the obvious and perhaps put any Towns rumors to rest (for now).
“Karl-Anthony Towns is as untouchable as they come,” Rosas told ESPN’s Eric Woodyard. “He’s the best player on our team and he’s the guy we’re building around.”
Towns isn’t just Minnesota’s best player. He may be on track to status as one of the best offensive bigs of all time.
David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Nikola Jokic and Shaquille O’Neal are the only 6’10”-plus players to total more wins over replacement player in their first five seasons. And Towns leads that bunch (overwhelmingly) in threes and three-point percentage. He also leads in true shooting percentage, though Jokic isn’t far behind.
Sure, plenty of teams are “monitoring” Towns. There’s just no reason for the Wolves to entertain the idea of trading him.
Another Timberwolf who might not be attainable next month is Robert Covington.
“Houston, Philadelphia, Dallas and Golden State have been rumored to be interested in acquiring him, either before the deadline or in the summer,” The Athletic’s Zach Harper wrote. “However, the asking price if a team wants him before the deadline is pretty high. Young assets and picks (first-round and second-rounders) are the starting point to get in on a Covington conversation, according to league sources.”
Yikes. That may be posturing. And Covington is good. But young-players-and-picks good?
Over his last three seasons, Covington has a slightly above-average true shooting percentage and ranks just outside the top 50 in box plus/minus.
He can move the needle for a contender but maybe not far enough to warrant mortgaging the future.
“Andre Drummond and Steven Adams are the big-name bigs available, but among the most intriguing is Aron Baynes,” the New York Times‘ Marc Stein tweeted. “The Suns are not shopping Baynes, league sources say, but they have also not ruled out moving him before the Feb. 6 deadline if a team meets their trade price.”
Baynes was among Phoenix’s hottest Suns to start the season, posting an average game score of 12.3 and shooting 44.2 percent from three through the first 12 games. He’s been in and out of the lineup and rotation since then, posting a 6.2 average game score over 21 appearances.
With Deandre Ayton back, perhaps Phoenix may be in the market for some draft capital in exchange for Baynes. His three-point percentage has dipped below average, but he’s shown enough to keep defenders honest out there. That and his rugged defense and screen-setting could make him the ideal backup 5 for a contender.
Alec Burks’ late-career breakout has been a fun story to track during this tank-worthy campaign. After averaging 9.5 points over his first eight seasons in the league, he’s at a career-high 16.0 in 2019-20.
In a less demanding offensive role, he might even be slightly more efficient. It’s not hard to see him sparking an offense as a seventh or eighth man.
“Multiple teams have reached out to the Warriors in recent weeks to see what it would take to acquire Burks,” Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote. “But at this point, Golden State is still looking for better offers for him.”
If no team meets Golden State’s asking price by Feb. 6, it may well drop. Now is the time to drive a hard bargain. The pressure of deadline day almost always forces teams to soften up.