The Minnesota Timberwolves are struggling to keep pace in the Western Conference playoff chase, having lost seven in a row after Wednesday’s 117-110 road loss to the Chicago Bulls. Their hopes of turning things around, though, have been buoyed by having star center Karl-Anthony Towns back in the mix.
Towns did his part against the Bulls, logging his eighth career 40-point game to try and spur a comeback. In the course of the evening, Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas told ESPN.com’s Eric Woodyard that Towns remains the team’s centerpiece despite any rumors to the contrary.
“Karl-Anthony Towns is as untouchable as they come,” Rosas told ESPN. “He’s the best player on our team and he’s the guy we’re building around. Everything we do is to help him become the best player and to help us become the best team we can be. He’s a special talent that we’re going to do anything possible to help him achieve his highest potential.”
The Timberwolves started out 10-8 after a Nov. 27 win against the San Antonio Spurs that had Minnesota as the No. 7 team in the West. From there, though, things went downhill for the Wolves. They would start an 11-game losing streak in their next game (on Dec. 1 against Memphis) and during that skid, Towns went out of the lineup. He did not play starting on Dec. 18 and would miss the next 15 games because of a sprained left knee.
From Dec. 18 to Jan. 17, the Timberwolves went 5-10 and fell from a manageable No. 11 in the West to their current No. 13 spot. That lengthy absence was the first of Towns’ career and he said Wednesday he is glad to be back on the court as he works himself back into his old form.
“I mean it’s the first injury of my whole career from young until now. I feel good, I felt good the first day I came back against Indiana. I just feel like I had to get myself re-implemented back into the offense,” Towns said Wednesday night. “There were so many things that changed and everything when I was out — I was just trying to find myself in the offense, and I think it was taken the wrong way when I said it. It was more saying that the plays were not meant for me anymore, it was different but the coaching staff did a great job and we talked it out and just trying to find ways.”
The Wolves have already made a trade this season, dealing guard Jeff Teague and swingman Treveon Graham to the Atlanta Hawks for Allen Crabbe on Jan. 16. Rosas told ESPN he will continue to look for ways to improve Minnesota.
“We’ve been very aggressive. We’ve been very thorough in terms of any opportunities to help our team, and that’ll be a continual process,” Rosas told ESPN. “So for us, we’re gonna be very active and we’re going to look at any opportunity that can present itself and make sure that if there’s a deal that we can do to improve our team, we’re going to take advantage of those opportunities.”
Although Minnesota is clearly struggling, Towns is taking a long view on everything.
“I was having a conversation with someone the other day … fans think it’s so easy to win in the NBA and it’s very difficult,” Towns said, per ESPN. “It’s the most difficult thing you can think of. No offense, this is not Life Time Fitness, this is not LA Fitness, this is the real thing. This is the best of the best playing, on one court, at one time, trying to figure out how to beat each other in a game of basketball. The margin of error is very slim.
“One thing I always try and tell our guys is that, ‘It’s cool to go out there and do 98 great things and we come in here and we talk about all the 98 great things out of 100 that we did, but those two bad things are going to be the reason we lose.’ The margin of error in the NBA is that slim and tonight was one of those nights.”