Karl-Anthony Towns on future with Timberwolves: 'I'm confident I'll be able to be here with my brothers'

Potential new owners and payroll issues might force change in Minnesota

The best Minnesota Timberwolves season in 20 years came to an end Thursday night with a 124-103 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals.

Now will come the reality of trying to keep a competitive team together under the current NBA collective bargaining agreement.

The Timberwolves have nearly $193 million in salary committed for the 2024-25 season, according to Spotrac, with roughly $7 million likely to be added when All-NBA honors are bestowed on Anthony Edwards. With 10 players under salary and Kyle Anderson and Monte Morris set to become free agents, the payroll will be quite high.

When the most recent CBA was agreed to it added a second apron that is roughly $11 million ($190 million total) more than the first apron.

Under the new CBA, teams over the first apron are limited to just matching salaries in trades to 100% of their outgoing money, while non-taxpayer teams can make the math work within 125%. In short, teams can’t take in more money than they’re trading out. First-apron clubs are also barred from signing a player waived during the regular season if his salary exceeds that year’s mid-level exception.

The second-apron repercussions began this season, with teams above that threshold now losing any mid-level exception entirely. They aren’t just limited to the 100% salary matching in trades, but second apron teams are also prohibited from combining multiple players’ salaries into trades as well.

Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns walks off the court after Game 5 of the team's NBA basketball Western Conference finals against the Dallas Mavericks, Thursday, May 30, 2024, in Minneapolis. Dallas won 124-103, advancing to the NBA Finals. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)
Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns walks off the court after Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday, May 30, 2024, in Minneapolis. Dallas won 124-103, advancing to the NBA Finals. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

Should Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez win their legal battle with current majority owner Glen Taylor, are they committed to a high-salaried roster and the issues that come with it? Probably not.

According to an April report from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the potential new owners submitted financial projections that showed a cut in payroll.

In documents shared with [Glen] Taylor, the NBA and The Carlyle Group, a private equity firm, Lore and Rodriguez rendered a budget projection as potential majority owners that would've lowered the Timberwolves' payroll to $171 million beginning next season — below the projected $172 million luxury tax threshold, sources told ESPN. The Timberwolves would've gone from approximately a $25 million-plus tax payment to a team receiving a tax distribution of approximately $6.5 million.

That kind of salary slashing is what led to Taylor voiding an agreement he had to sell the Timberwolves and WNBA's Lynx to Lore and Rodriguez.

This will lead to speculation about Karl-Anthony Towns' future in Minnesota. He has four years left (including a player option for 2027-28) on his contract and wants to stay and deliver a championship for the franchise.

"I've been here nine years and I would love for the tenure to keep going," Towns said after the Timberwolves' Game 5 loss. "I'm confident I'll be able to be here with my brothers and continue what I love to do here at home. So that's the plan. Nothing's changed on my side. I love this city. I love this organization. I love this city. It's given me my life, me and my family."

As far as campaigning to ownership that the roster should be kept intact in order to compete again next season, Towns did not oblige.

"That's not for me to worry about," Towns said. "My job is to go out there every day and do something this summer in the offseason and continue to take steps forward in my game and my mentality, not only as a player but as a person, too.

"Excited to see next season when I walk in for training camp for our first interviews and stuff to not only see the growth for me as a player that I'll get to showcase throughout the season, but the growth of me as a man. I can't speak on [new ownership]. I can't control that."

But if Lore and Rodriguez take control in the near future, salary shedding may be a possibility, and we may be looking at a very different Timberwolves team next season.