Days after spouting off about his perceived All-Star snub, Minnesota Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns expressed his frustration in ways that should make the front office awfully nervous.
Towns submitted a listless performance in a loss to the lowly Atlanta Hawks that was far worse than the final seven-point margin. The defeat marked Minnesota’s 13th straight, a streak that began soon after snapping an 11-game losing skid just after Christmas. Afterward, Towns indicated the season is taking its toll on him, telling The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski that his “patience [is] running low with a lot of things,” namely the startling amount of change around him in his first five NBA campaigns.
“I’ve been losing for a long time,” he told Krawczynski. “I'm not trying to do that s--- anymore. So every possession means a lot. You obviously see my patience running low with a lot of things. There’s no excuses. We gotta get it done.”
Towns has seen four general managers and three coaches since Minnesota made him the No. 1 overall pick in 2015. Earlier this week, he endorsed current GM Gersson Rosas and coach Ryan Saunders, despite the team being stuck on 15 wins since Jan. 9. Towns told reporters he had no desire to join the front office’s decision-making process entering the trade deadline. He did say he would like to see them keep Robert Covington, whom Towns called his “best friend on the team.”
The Wolves traded Covington along with Shabazz Napier, Keita Bates-Diop, Noah Vonleh and Jordan Bell in a four-team trade that returned Malik Beasley, Juan Hernangomez and a pair of first-round picks. It was a prudent move on the organization’s part, with Covington entering free agency in a few months, but Towns told Krawczynski that he has lost sleep ever since the latest upheaval.
“I’ve been part of so much change here in Minnesota, I’m kind of desensitized to it,” Towns added after the loss on Wednesday. “Obviously, there’s ones that hurt a little bit more. Zach [LaVine] hurt a lot. Cov is up there. So the last 24 hours, I haven’t slept much. I think I fell asleep yesterday at like 5:30, 6, woke up at 9, still just thinking about the game-planning in my mind, so many different things happening, you lose so many players, especially two starters, it changes a lot of the game.”
He also posted the following images to express confusion on social media after the trade:
Karl-Anthony Towns has entered the chat.... pic.twitter.com/7Xuglxn7fh— Rob Lopez (@r0bato) February 5, 2020
This past weekend, Towns told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Chris Hine that he was also “desensitized to being disrespected in this league” after failing to earn a third straight All-Star selection, recognizing that the playoffs is “how you build a legacy.” His repeated references to roster-building not coming under his purview seem passive-aggressive at this point. He reportedly called his younger teammates this week to teach them a lesson he has learned all too well.
“I hope this is a great learning experience for them because this is what it is,” he told Krawczynski. “You could be very close and you could be with someone you cherish a lot and they could be gone the next day, not only in basketball but in life. I hope this is a lesson and reminder for them.”
Could Towns be the next to go? Minnesota’s front office has to be asking themselves that question now. Towns is in the first season of a five-year, $158 million extension, but nothing is stopping him from entering a trade request. It is how business is done in the NBA now. At the very least, his lack of effort in Wednesday’s loss could be a signal to Saunders and Rosas that things can get worse.
The Timberwolves reportedly acquired Warriors point guard D’Angelo Russell, who would both fill a position of need and pair Towns with one of his best friends in the league, in a deal that sent Andrew Wiggins to Golden State.
So, yeah, overall this isn’t good news for the Timberwolves, but the Russell deal could help.
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