An eventual Karl-Anthony Towns trade sits somewhere between a possibility and inevitability, but those of us inclined to see it sooner rather than later (hand raised) are slowly coming to believe what is being reported:

The Timberwolves intend to keep last year's core essentially intact, giving the pairing of big men Rudy Gobert and Towns another chance after an awkward early fit was interrupted by a 52-game Towns absence due to a prolonged calf strain.

There is certainly logic within that idea. Exhibiting patience has not been the hallmark of the Wolves franchise, often to its detriment, while Wolves President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly can point to the NBA title just won by his old team, Denver, as a testament to letting a roster grow together.

But there is also a looming contract crunch, with more expensive deals for Towns, Anthony Edwards and presumably Jaden McDaniels kicking in at the start of the 2024-25 season. By next offseason, the Wolves might have no choice but to trade someone — and Towns seems like the most likely candidate.

Waiting another year, though, could cost the Wolves leverage in a deal — and would force them to take back more salary in a potential Towns trade after his new contract kicks in.

There is a potential middle ground, though — one that has gained some traction in the national media lately and which I talked about on Thursday's Daily Delivery podcast with the Star Tribune's Chris Hine. Would the Wolves consider dealing Towns in the middle of the year before February's trade deadline?

Three ESPN insiders recently said they expect a Towns market to heat up before the deadline.

Hine, as he is very good at, offered a more measured take. While that scenario is certainly possible, he said, we need to see how the first 50-plus games of this season — before the trade deadline — plays out.

If the Wolves are thriving in the Western Conference and seem on track for a top-four seed, it would be hard to break the team up — particularly if the Towns/Gobert pairing was gaining positive traction.

But if they are lingering near .500 as they did last year, a deal would make more sense — particularly if Towns was healthy and productive but still not showing much chemistry with Gobert.

While such a move might seem disruptive and hard to pull off midyear, there are plenty of examples of superstars changing teams during the season — including Kevin Durant to the Suns just last season.

Here are four more things to know today:

*A textbook finish from Teemu Pukki after a perfect ball from Emanuel Reynoso gave Minnesota United fans plenty to cheer about Wednesday.

*Here's a good read on the devaluation of NFL running backs, which I also talked about on Thursday's podcast.

*They have that going for them, which is nice: The Twins have the easiest remaining schedule of any team in MLB.

*Listen for a lot of Gophers volleyball talk with the Star Tribune's Jeff Day on Friday's podcast.