There is a complicated answer and a simple answer to explain why the Timberwolves have struggled in recent years.
Complicated: They are a franchise that always seems to have something go wrong, leading to restarts and the sort of instability that never allows real traction.
Simple: Their best player, Karl-Anthony Towns, missed 22 of 72 games last season and 29 of 64 games the year before that, preventing the Wolves from getting more than a passing glance at how their most recent reboot featuring Towns, D'Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards looks on the court.
The convergence of both ideas arrived Monday when the Wolves met en masse with the local media in advance of the start of training camp. As Chris Hine and I talked about on Wednesday's Daily Delivery podcast, two of the main story lines from media day were organizational instability and how the team — led by Towns — can move forward in a pivotal season.
The Wolves on Monday introduced incoming owners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez, who simultaneously said they are committed to being in Minnesota while also hinting at desiring a new arena. We heard from Sachin Gupta, elevated to the team's top personnel decisionmaker after last week's abrupt firing of Gersson Rosas.
And we heard Towns say this: "What happened last week just added to that list. It's just the same thing, every single time. And it's something that always leads to instability. Really, I've been through everything. … Numerous front offices, numerous coaches."
Some of that has been far beyond Towns' control. The GM/coach who drafted him, Flip Saunders, tragically passed away right before Towns' rookie season. Towns battled COVID last season after watching his mother die from it. And Rosas, well, yeah.
But there is also a sense that there would have been greater organizational stability had Towns continued on the trajectory he seemed to be on his first three seasons: a star with seemingly unlimited offensive gifts and defensive potential who played all 82 games and reached the playoffs with Jimmy Butler in Year 3.
His next three years were marred by injuries and inconsistency, particularly on defense, contributing to the firing of both Tom Thibodeau and Ryan Saunders.
So here we are now already in Towns' seventh season. It begins with a tone of instability. What happens next is anyone's guess, but it will be influenced significantly by Towns. If he plays like a Top 10 player in the NBA and suits up for at least 75 games, the Wolves have a chance to make the playoffs.
If not, there could be even more instability next offseason, and Towns could find himself on a different team.