Will Karl-Anthony Towns sign shorter contract extension with Timberwolves?

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Karl-Anthony Towns and the Timberwolves have until 6 p.m. Eastern on Oct. 15 to agree to a contract extension. The deal wouldn’t kick in until 2019-20, anyway. So, there’s plenty of time.

But why isn’t it done yet? Most max extensions are completed, or at least clearly agreed upon, by now. Is the reported discord between Towns and Minnesota that significant?

Brian Windhorst on ESPN:

There’s nothing happening right now.

The fact that this isn’t getting done yet is sort of eye-brow raising. To me, I believe he’s going to sign it. There’s never been a player who hasn’t signed it. The question again will be, to me: What type of deal is it? Is it a full five-year extension? Is it KAT saying this is where I want to be? Or does he take the shorter extension?

A five-year max contract extension for Towns projects to be worth $190 million (if he makes an All-NBA team or wins Defensive Player of the Year next season) or $158 million (if he doesn’t qualify for the super-max).

A three-year max extension would project to top out at $88 million. He wouldn’t be eligible for the super max unless he signs for four or five more years (no options).

The Timberwolves shouldn’t offer Towns a shorter extension unless it includes a much lower salary. They’d be better off waiting to re-sign him in restricted free agency next summer and hoping their relationship is in a better place.

If it is, they could re-sign him to a five-year deal with the exact same terms an extension would have now. If it’s not, they could make it very costly for him to leave.

Minnesota could extend a maximum qualifying offer – a standing offer for a fully guaranteed five-year max contract with max raises and no options. By doing so, the Timberwolves would force any offer sheet Towns signs elsewhere to be for at least three years, not including options (up from two years, not including options, otherwise).

The only way he could unilaterally leave Minnesota quicker than three years is accepting his regular, $10,191,266, one-year qualifying offer. That’d be a steep drop from his projected max salary of more than $27 million and come with no long-term security. But it would make him an unrestricted free agent in 2019.

Windhorst is right: Nobody has ever passed on a rookie-scale contract extension. It’s players’ first chance to earn huge money, not a time most feel ready to take a risk.

But circumstances have changed in recent years with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Towns would be eligible for the super max in his eighth and ninth seasons with only the team he ends next season on. An unintended consequence of the new rules: Young players have more incentive to push for trades sooner.

Towns refusing to sign a contract extension would be a bright flashing warning to the Timberwolves, one that might even cause them to trade him now. They’d still have significant control over his future if he heads toward restricted free agency, but how long do they want to do that dance with him?

It’s also possible Towns is delaying to exert less-explosive leverage. Maybe he’s just making noise to get a player option or a higher portion of the super max if he qualifies on a five-year deal.

The expectation should probably remain Towns signs an extension with Minnesota, but the longer this drags out, the more curious it becomes.

James Harden reiterates it was “false talk” he and Chris Paul were at odds

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The Houston Rockets — not in an anonymous way, but in a “we are putting our names on this, quote me” kind of way — have pushed back hard on the narrative that there was tension between Chris Paul and James Harden that led to the Rockets trading CP3 for Russell Westbrook this offseason. Rockets GM Daryl Morey has denied it, team leader P.J. Tucker called it fake news, and Paul himself has pushed back.

Harden has done that again, speaking at his camp on Saturday.

The counter-argument to this: Chris Paul is in Oklahoma City right now.

People will believe what they want to believe, but the Rockets guys have all gone on the record about this. Nothing leaked and anonymous.

From the Rockets’ perspective, they made a trade for Westbrook that is a roster upgrade. Houston has a dynamic duo that can compete with the Los Angeles teams and the other contenders around the league, and whatever questions fans and the media may have about the ultimate fit of Harden and Westbrook the talent level is not in question.

Do the Rockets make that trade if everything is great between Harden and Paul? Probably, if they saw CP3 as in decline and Westbrook as a talent upgrade (which they did). The Rockets can be a cold, business-like organization in terms of their pursuit of a title.

We will see next season if that calculation paid off. Whether or not Harden and CP3 got along.

Report: Kyle Korver reaches one-year deal to join Milwaukee Bucks

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The Bucks can never have enough shooting around a driving Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Enter Kyle Korver. The veteran sharpshooter will be headed to Milwaukee on a one-year contract, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

This is a quality pickup at the minimum (it is a veteran minimum contract). Korver averaged 8.6 points per game last season, taking 72 percent of his shots from beyond the arc and knocking down 39.7 percent of them. The man has gravity and pulls a defender because even at age 38 defenders cannot leave him. Shooting is a skill always in demand.

The Bucks will start Wesley Matthews at the two and have Sterling Brown behind him. They have Khris Middleton and Pat Connaughton at the three. Now they have some reliable veteran depth at those spots and a guy who can hit the big shot for them.

James Harden buys piece of MLS Houston Dynamo

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NBA players being minority owners in a soccer team is not new, LeBron James owns a small piece of Champions’ League winner Liverpool, for example.

James Harden is keeping it closer to home — he bought a share of the Dynamo, Houston’s MLS franchise.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity to join the ownership group of the Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash and proud to be a part of a club with tremendous history and a great future,” Harden said in a statement. “Houston is my home now, and I saw this as a way to invest in my city and expand my business interests at the same time. Soccer in general, and especially MLS, have exploded in this country throughout my lifetime. I’ve been a fan of the game for several years, and I know that Houston has a massive soccer fanbase, so it was an easy decision for me when this opportunity arose.”

Harden reportedly purchased a five percent stake in the team.

The Dynamo — a former MLS cup champion and a franchise that has consistently been strong — is primarily owned by Gabriel Brener, and it has boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya as one of its minority owners.

Harden has earned more than $141 million in NBA salary in his 10 NBA seasons and has four years left on the $228 million contract extension he signed with the team in 2017. In addition, he has a large shoe contract with Adidas and other endorsements.

Report: R.C. Buford moving on from Spurs GM role, Brian Wright taking over

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For 15 years, through championships and an unparalleled run of playoff berths and success, R.C. Buford and Gregg Popovich seemed to work as one brain. Popovich was the coach but also team president, Buford the GM, and together they built an NBA powerhouse.

Buford is moving on from that role. Or, more precisely moving up into a new management role, and assistant GM Brian Wright is taking over as GM, reports Jabari Young of The Athletic.

After a little more than 15 years serving as GM, Buford is getting prepared to bequeath the role to assistant GM Brian Wright, league sources have confirmed to The Athletic. Wright will report directly to Buford, who will officially get a new title that some around the NBA believe will be a role helping to oversee Spurs Sports & Entertainment.

When the Spurs initially hired Wright in 2016, he stayed behind the scenes and focused mainly on scouting. But sources have informed The Athletic over the last year Wright has been more involved, even fielding calls and packages for the trade of Kawhi Leonard the previous summer.

Wright came to the Spurs from the Pistons a couple of years ago. That said, don’t expect a big change in how things are done in the Spurs front office. For one thing, Popovich is still there. Also, Wright has an excellent reputation around the league as being smart and a straight shooter. On top of all of that, Buford will remain his ultimate boss, although Buford’s role will change into one of more of a business manager for Spurs Sports & Entertainment.

Young hints there could be more changes coming. Obviously, the biggest would be when Popovich decides to step back in his dual roles as coach and president, but there could be shifts in the assistant GM ranks as well.

Just don’t expect the Spurs to stop being the Spurs.