SACRAMENTO, CALIF. – In this NBA era of player empowerment, some stars have taken on the unofficial additional title of general manager free of charge to go along with their handsome maximum contracts.
They help orchestrate trades to their desired locales, or engineer ways to recruit opponents they want as teammates on their side.
After Monday’s 113-109 loss to Sacramento, the Wolves’ franchise linchpin, center Karl-Anthony Towns, said he had no interest in interfering with the work of the front office as it attempts to maneuver around Thursday’s trade deadline.
“My stand on that is they get paid to do that,” Towns said. “I get paid to be on the court and make the things happen. My job title is to be a basketball player, be a leader and take whatever guys I’m blessed to play with, share this locker room with and try to get the best out of them while getting the best out of me. That’s my job. My job is not to make decisions roster-wise or anything like that.”
Nonetheless, Towns will have significant sway over the moves the Wolves make in advance of the trade deadline, even if he won’t have an active voice.
Wolves President Gersson Rosas has made it his goal to surround Towns with complementary talent, and Thursday’s deadline represents another window to try and accomplish that.
Reports have been increasing on two fronts: Robert Covington being available and the Wolves attempting to get D’Angelo Russell, a friend of Towns’ who the Wolves missed out on in free agency last summer. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday that Covington going and Russell arriving could be part of the same deal, a complicated four-team trade also involving Houston and Atlanta.
As the Wolves plot their next moves, Towns pledged full confidence in the front office and coaching staff moving forward to do what’s best for the franchise.
“It would hurt if the star player or player you highly regarded in the organization — if they didn’t feel confidence in the front office. I do,” Towns said. “I feel very confident in Gersson, [coach] Ryan [Saunders] and all of them. Whatever they do, I’ll support because I know they’re trying to make the right decisions for us. … I don’t need to be focused on everything the front office is doing or whatever the case may be because that’s not my job title and that’s something I don’t need to waste my energy and life on.”
But Towns is concerned with the status of Covington, one of his best friends on the team. Towns said he wasn’t paying attention to all the rumors, but it’s hard to block out the noise surrounding Covington.
“I think it’s very obvious he’s my best friend on the team, so it would be very difficult if something like that was going to happen,” Towns said. “But like with Zach LaVine, this is a business. So like I said, I’m the one who just plays the game. I don’t get paid to make rosters and stuff like that. That’s why we have [Rosas] and them.”
Towns sighed while giving that answer, as if he didn’t want to face that possibility.
Covington has a great relationship with Towns, one where Covington can call out Towns if he feels he needs it, and Towns respects that about Covington.
Something like that happened in Monday’s game when Towns and Josh Okogie appeared to get heated in a huddle. Covington came over and calmed Towns down. The two knew each other before Covington came to Minnesota in the Jimmy Butler trade a year ago, and their relationship has grown since. Towns is hopeful it can keep growing.
“He’s a great guy, a great dude. He’s a great player. He’s helped me tremendously and continues to help me every day,” Towns said of Covington. “He just gives me such comfort out there.”
The complicated flip side, of course, is that acquiring Russell — another friend of Towns and someone Towns personally tried to recruit to Minnesota last summer — probably means giving up Covington.
Maybe it’s just as well that Towns doesn’t have to — or try to — make that decision.
“Obviously there’s a lot of decisions … as a player you may not like, but it’s something you’ve got to live with,” Towns said. “And that comes with just having trust in those guys. … Like I said, I don’t get paid to make those decisions. Those are tough decisions.”