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Knicks Rumors: Is Karl Anthony Towns to the Knicks the Right Move?

knicks rumors: KAT to Knicks

The 2022-23 NBA season just came to an end for the New York Knicks. A Jalen Brunson masterclass wasn’t enough to lift the Knicks to a win in a hard fought game 6 against the Miami Heat. As you know in this business, the show goes on and the Knicks rumors have continued to swirl.

None have swirled larger than Karl Anthony Towns to New York.

Since the Knicks second round playoff exit, this rumor has continued to gain momentum in NBA circles. Many believing he has been on the radar of Leon Rose for some time.

With so much emphasis on this potential move, we wanted to think through what this deal might look like for the Knicks, the player they will be receiving and the impact on the future of the team.

Paramount to all of this, we want to uncover if bringing Karl Anthony Towns to New York even moves the needle the Knicks. Let’s assess these Knicks rumors.

What would Karl Anthony Towns bring to New York?

Karl Anthony Towns is coming off a difficult, injury plagued season. A grade 3 calf strain occurring on Nov 28, was initially expected to be a four-to-six week injury according to CBS. Although constant setbacks kept him from gaining any true momentum, ultimately missing 51 games.

For his career, Towns averages 23.0 pts, 11.2 rebs, 3.2 ast with exceptional shooting percentages at the center position, and in the league generally. He shoots 52.6% from the field, 39.5% from three and 83.5% from the line.

During the 2022-23 campaign, these numbers fell across the board. Starting only 29 games, he put up 20.8 pts, 8.1 rebs and 4.8 ast. Shooting percentages also dropped fractionally.

Trading for KAT is an offense first move

Surprisingly to some, Karl Anthony Towns had his best defensive season of his career. The Timberwolves ranked 10th in defensive rating, while he had one of his best defensive ratings at 113.7.

Keep in mind, this improvement might have something to do with the acquisition of Rudy Gobert. Per CBS, the highly controversial trade included four first-round picks, one first-round swap, the draft rights to Rookie of the Year candidate Walker Kessler and veterans Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Jarred Vanderbilt and Leandro Bolmaro.

This trade completely reset the trade market in the NBA.

Partnered alongside Rudy Gobert, this is how Towns ranked amongst his top center peers.

  • Joel Embiid – 108.8
  • Rudy Gobert – 109.5
  • Mitchell Robinson – 109.5
  • Nikola Jokic – 109.6

Stats by Statmuse.

Now defensive rating isn’t everything.

Quentin Grimes had a defensive rating of 117.3, but as any Knicks fan knows from watching games, he is a tremendous defender.

With this in mind, there is the possibility that Towns improved as a defender. At 27, and the opportunity to play alongside one of the leagues best defenders, he may have unlocked some potential that was otherwise lost.

While he made an improvement, the expectation for the Knicks is that they are receiving one of the NBA’s offensive talents. His ability to shoot the 3 and space the floor will greatly help Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, and Jalen Brunson.

The Knicks drive first, inside scoring offensive, can be stifled at times by clogging the paint and forcing less efficient shooters to make 3’s.

What will the Knicks need to give up for Towns?

An important note about this Knicks rumor is that Towns will have many potential suitors. According to a report from Heavy’s Sean Deveney, there are at least 5 teams that are interested in his services.

Among these teams: Brooklyn, Boston, Miami and Portland are expected to pursue Towns.

Given the amount of interest in the services of Karl Anthony Towns, one would expect this to raise the asking price. This, in addition to Minnesota hoping to recuperate some of their losses in the Gobert trade.

As part of any deal, there will be some combination of players and first round picks. The exact combination is unknown.

Focus for the Timberwolves and Knicks

The experiment of Rudy Gobert and Karl Anthony Towns did not work for Minnesota.

They made the playoffs, and Towns did miss a lot of time throughout the season, but fighting through the play-in tournament, followed by a gentlemen’s sweep, is hardly the expectation following a trade with four first round picks.

After their 2023 playoff exit, the focus moving forward for Minnesota became firmly Anthony Edwards.

Pairing Edwards with Gobert gives you strong complimentary skillsets. The scoring of Edwards with the defensive prowess of Gobert is a good place to start.

This means a trade for Edwards is not up for discussion. Quite the contrary, the Timberwolves will likely want to add some youth to the roster that better align with his player development timeline.

For the Knicks, this opens the door for a deal with some combination of Immanuel Quickley, Quentin Grimes, Obi Toppin and RJ Barrett.

To make the money, the Knicks would push to include Evan Fournier. For Mitchell Robinson to be included, there would likely need to be a third team involved as there would be little interest to have two defensive first centers on the roster in Minnesota.

Who are the likely players to move in the deal for Towns?

The hope for New York is that the trade market has cooled from a year ago.

Arguably, Karl Anthony Towns is as good as Rudy Gobert, but the Knicks will not want to give up four first round picks with their youth.

Unfortunately, if they move forward with a deal for an all-star player, it will come at a price. A deal of this nature will likely include the following:

  • Obi Toppin
  • Immanuel Quickley or Quentin Grimes
  • Evan Fournier / Derrick Rose
  • 2 (probably 3) first round picks

Should the Knicks acquire Towns, and the deal does not include a third team, we should see them look to offload Mitchell Robinson in a second deal.

Does Towns move the needle for the Knicks?

For New York, you can say a trade for Towns fits a need.

The need to spread the floor and allow room for Randle, Barrett and Brunson to operate inside the paint. This move also gives them a high percentage perimeter shooter that defenses must respect.

In terms of championship contender, this is not the deal that gets the Knicks over the hump.

The Knicks were 4th in unadjusted offensive rating and ranked 19th in defensive rating during the regular season. In the playoffs, however, this flipped on its head. The Knicks were 13th in offensive rating and 1st in defensive rating, per basketball reference.

In the playoffs, when the pressure intensified, the Knicks young perimeter defenders stepped up, while Mitchell Robinson and Isaiah Hartenstein locked it down inside. Scoring became harder to come by, carried solely by Jalen Brunson for the most part throughout the campaign.

A trade for Towns will trade the teams away the teams strength. Now, with that said, the spacing problem must be addressed, but he will not provide the Knicks with the consistent scoring output this team would need to take the leap.

Ultimately, Towns would be the second option on this team, behind Brunson. The hope is that his presence opens up the floor for Barrett and Randle to get easier shots and that accelerates their scoring as a result.

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