Karl-Anthony Towns will be sidelined a couple of weeks, at least, with a fractured left wrist. When he returns, there will be 15-17 games left in the season, at most (and the Timberwolves are not headed to the playoffs).
Time to shut him down and tank for a lottery spot?
Not in Minnesota. Towns wants back on the court when healthy, sources told Jon Krawczynski at The Athletic, plus it’s the right move for the franchise.
“When he’s healthy enough, we’ll be able to make those decisions, but make no mistake, we’re a group that is competing,” coach Ryan Saunders said before a 127-117 loss to the Boston Celtics on Friday night. “You get better and you grow by doing the right things. That’s by, (no matter what) your record is, you’re not looking at the record.”
The translation: The Wolves don’t plan to let their place in the standings dictate their decision with Towns. League sources told The Athletic that Towns desperately wants to return to the court this season to play with Russell, Malik Beasley and the rest of a completely revamped Wolves roster.
There are a few reasons this is the right move for Minnesota.
• It has been a frustrating season for Towns, he is the franchise player, he wants to play, it’s best to keep him happy (and not dreaming of greener pastures elsewhere).
• This is not a draft with elite talent at the top of it, so what exactly are the Timberwolves tanking for?
• Towns and Russell could use the time on the court to become more accustomed to each other’s games.
• The coaching staff and front office could use the time to evaluate the fit of players they have around Towns and Russell.
There are times that tanking makes sense, although the viability of that as a strategy has decreased some with the flattened out lottery odds. However, considering this draft and the value of having Towns and Russell on the court together, it doesn’t make sense for Minnesota.