Here are five things to remember about the potential Rudy Gobert deal in light of the Stifle Tower reportedly moving from Salt Lake City to the Twin Cities. And make no mistake: the success of the Timberwolves after acquiring the NBA’s top rim protector and shot blocker will define this transaction for all the parts and potential assets going to Utah.
This is a major issue.
The Wolves will attempt to play a duo of traditional big men—Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns—at a time when many NBA clubs appeared unwilling to do so. Additionally, they will pay for two of them: Only three centers in league history have ever signed deals worth more than $200 million, and two of them currently play for Minnesota. Nikola Jokic, the back-to-back MVP of Denver, is the third as of Thursday, with Joel Embiid of Philadelphia narrowly missing out with his $196 million extension last summer.
The relevant amount will be $72 million the following season, with Gobert earning $38.2 million and Towns $33.8 million. But keep in mind that Towns’ four-year, $224 million “supermax” extension, which he signed this week, won’t begin until 2024–25 and won’t end until 2027–28.
Therefore, he ($46.6 million) and KAT ($54.1 million) will be eating up more than $100 million of Minnesota’s salary in 2025–2026, the final season of Gobert’s contract. They were the only two.
There are more figures that matter: All told, the two big men have appeared in six All-Star games, been selected for six All-NBA teams, been chosen for six All-Defense teams (all Gobert), won three defensive player of the year honors (again, Gobert), and won a 3-point shooting award (Towns at All-Star Weekend in February).
KAT continues to move.
Towns: “It is a great honor for me to wear this shirt.”
Towns was imprisoned by his contract extension one day and released the next. In other words, this deal relieves him of the burden of guarding and scoring in the paint.
The 6-foot-11, 26-year-old offensive talent, who possesses exceptional skill, is already being utilized by Wolves coach Chris Finch across the offensive zone. His ability to make 3-pointers in Cleveland was not an anomaly in February; last season, Towns made 41% of his shots (shooting 150-for-366). He is the only center in the Top 25 because to his career rate of 39.7%, which is the highest of any center in league history and ranks 17th among all active players.
He is a willing passer as well, and Gobert has given him a sizable target close to the rim. The Jazz center didn’t take many shots and got most of his opportunities off the offensive boards, but over the past four seasons, he has led the NBA in field goal %.
The first center to win the MTN DEW 3-Point Contest is Karl-Anthony Towns.
Towns never excelled at defense, so Gobert makes things easier for his new teammate. Not just against the biggest opponents, though; Towns’ required position guarding the paint and cleaning up at the rim frequently got him into foul trouble, and any more contact with officials might set off his protests and grouses. This also keeps him safe there from harm.
Anthony Edwards, the vivacious, explosive wing for Minnesota, is a key player for the team’s future due to his raw athleticism and arsenal of highlight-reel skills. However, for the time being, this is Cities’ team and Towns’ towns (there are two in the Twin Cities, don’t you know).
Tim Connelly, the new president of basketball operations, told The Athletic that his team’s ultimate objective is to win enough games to hang KAT’s jersey in the rafters. He’s a man who has been through a lot, and he keeps growing better. We’re going to follow him wherever he leads.
The Wolves are committed.
For the youthful Timberwolves, finishing off games was a big problem. Even still, this postseason experience should help them in the future, despite how horrible it occasionally seemed.
Teams from Minnesota, the most rural NBA outpost with cold weather and a lack of glamour, typically have few options for growth. Few players select the Wolves as a destination market, leaving the classic three-legged stool of free agency, trades, and drafts to primarily rest on two legs.
This move indicates that they will be primarily reliant on one going forward. because they gave Utah four first-round picks, including the 2029 pick with Top 5 protection and three of them entirely bare. Additionally, a pick exchange is said to take place in 2026. And if you include center Walker Kessler, Minnesota’s selection at Pick 22 in last week’s Draft, that effectively brings the total to six. That’s more than the team had taken away for getting around the pay ceiling with Joe Smith a few decades back.
Don’t forget about Leandro Balmoro, Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, and Jarred Vanderbilt as well. Under Finch, others played important supporting roles. Beasley was the team’s most consistent 3-point shooter despite his unpredictable tendencies. A key perimeter defender and nuisance, Beverley. Towns relied on Vanderbilt to assist with defense and rebounds.
Therefore, there will be deals, most likely in the periphery, followed by a ton of internal growth and coaching with the altered roster. When the free agency bell rang, Taurean Prince renewed his contract, and the Wolves signed Memphis forward Kyle Anderson as a flexible backup. They have high expectations for newcomers Wendell Moore and Josh Minott while placing a lot of faith in returnees Jaden McDaniels and Jaylen Nowell.
Salt Lake City scaffolding has been erected
Why it finally appeared like the Jazz should part ways with Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.
Before this transaction took place, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst speculated that Utah was up to no good because of its transfer of starter Royce O’Neale to Brooklyn for a 2023 draft pick. Gobert then leaves. Donovan Mitchell is currently the subject of “most likely to be next” rumors.
Quin Snyder leaving his position as head coach of a team that he had guided to 108 victories above.500 over the previous six seasons was obviously enough white smoke to reveal Danny Ainge’s intentions. This ceiling of first round/semifinals was no longer sufficient. Change was coming, and it is arriving now, with a stockpile of draft picks that is only topped by Sam Presti of OKC, who is perpetually hoarding.
Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, aging Celtics legends, were acquired in an unsentimental trade by Ainge for selections in Boston. In a replication of the initial Garnett transaction from 2007, he is also using the Timberwolves once more to revamp his team.
Only he and Kevin McHale, who is no longer employed in the Minnesota front office, are pulling off this robbery.
The most important factor is how much better the Wolves have gotten.
Calculating Utah’s win total as a result of this agreement is pointless because the Jazz are now seeking that information. But it’s obvious that the Wolves believe this is the next stage in their development. They qualified for the Western Conference Play-In Tournament in April and beat Memphis in a first-round matchup, the team’s only other best-of-seven opportunity since 2004. In all honesty, they probably should have defeated the Grizzlies had it not been for their inexperience causing them to botch their close games.
There is no time for the Wolves to hide out in their lair of lottery tickets now that Connelly is in control, Finch has earned a contract extension of his own, and new owners Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore are on the horizon. The modest goals and constant disappointments have worn down the Minnesota fan base.
It was a problem with defense and paint protection. The Wolves were 16th in rebounding and 13th in defensive effectiveness last season (allowing 111.0 points per 100 possessions) (25th on the defensive glass). Gobert offers assistance. Towns’ complete armament becomes available as he moves forward, and new, better options to work with Edwards are suggested.
But in the intimidating Western Conference, will it be enough? At least on paper, the Warriors, Suns, Nuggets, Grizzlies, Clippers, and possibly the Mavericks appear to be as good as they were. And that’s before taking into account New Orleans and whatever variation of the Lakers gets up.
It will be reasonable to wonder if Connelly received enough for the amount paid for Gobert rather than bundling those assets in an effort to get Dejounte Murray or a Deandre Ayton sign-and-trade. That ceiling from the West semifinals may have traveled with the big Frenchman.