Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns is one of the league’s true young superstars. It makes sense that the franchise wants to lock up the 22-year old for the long haul.
However, reports of a big extension for KAT come amid others that he may not see eye-to-eye with the team’s other crucial star player.
Jimmy Butler, who was dealt to the team on the night of the 2017 NBA Draft, and Towns reportedly have a pretty serious rift. Towns is probably the smart long-term choice. The Athletic reports that Towns and the Timberwolves are nearing a max extension.
The Athletic Sources: Karl-Anthony Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves are discussing a maximum rookie scale contract extension, colleague @JonKrawczynski and I are told.
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) July 11, 2018
However, if Butler really doesn’t want to play with Towns, perhaps he may try to force his way out.
Chicago Sun-Times columnist Joe Cowley explained the issues involving the former Bulls superstar earlier this month.
A league source said Butler, who has been frustrated with the nonchalant attitudes of younger teammates — specifically Karl-Anthony Towns — does not intend to sign an extension with the Timberwolves.
It’s possible Butler could change his mind if the Timberwolves were to trade Towns — a move ownership is said to be highly against — or if Towns proved to Butler he isn’t “Amish-like,’’ as Towns described himself during a losing first-round playoff series against the Rockets.
Cowley already floated one possibility for a Jimmy Butler trade in that column.
It has been reported that Butler could want to team up to form an all-star backcourt with Kyrie Irving. Irving has already said that he doesn’t plan to sign an extension with the Celtics before he hits free agency, but Boston could look to bring in Butler this off-season, in an attempt to lock in Irving.
A league source close to the situation told the Sun-Times on Tuesday that Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving and former Bulls All-Star Jimmy Butler — who’s been playing with the Timberwolves since a draft-night trade in 2017 — are still trying to figure out a way to play together. The Celtics could try to acquire Butler this summer, or the two former Team USA teammates could simply opt out of their player options after next season and join forces then. Their intent is to build an elite backcourt, whether that’s in Boston or somewhere else in the East.
It doesn’t seem particularly likely that Butler would try and force a trade, given his long relationship with head coach and general manager Tom Thibodeau, whom he previously played for as a Bull. Still, we’ve seen a number of superstars do this recently, including Irving, Paul George, and right now, Kawhi Leonard. You definitely can’t count it out as a possibility.
In June, ESPN’s Jalen Rose said that the Timberwolves could look to trade either Karl-Anthony Towns or Andrew Wiggins ahead of the season. Instead, it seems like a real possibility that it is Butler who is out the door, unless Thibodeau can smooth things over between his two true star players.