2 Reasons for Blazers to target Karl-Anthony Towns, 2 reasons to stay away

Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /
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If the Portland Trail Blazers plan on keeping Damian Lillard around and contending next season, some major roster upgrades are needed. Whether that means trading young potential building blocks like Anfernee Simons, Shaedon Sharpe, and/or Portland’s lottery pick, making a playoff push would require significant changes.

The Blazers needs include size, defense, veteran experience, depth at point guard and center, and shooting. Without a lot of wiggle room under the salary cap, it’ll be difficult for general manager Joe Cronin to fill those needs through free agency. He’ll likely need to turn to the trade market if he wants to make any additions that would truly move the roster needle.

A recent rumor linking the Blazers with Minnesota Timberwolves’ center Karl-Anthony Towns would fill at least two of those needs: size and shooting. It would likely take a significant haul to land Towns, though – would he be worth it for Portland?

2 reasons the Trail Blazers should pursue Karl-Anthony Towns

1. Size

The term “size” is vague, but in Towns’ case, it would include literal size as well as rebounding and an interior defensive presence. The Trail Blazers have a version of that on the roster already in Jusuf Nurkic, but KAT is a much more skilled offensive player, and while he may not be the most agile big man in the league, he certainly has more lateral quickness and athleticism than Nurk.

Towns owns career averages of 23.0 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks. He grabbed more than 12 rebounds per game for three straight seasons from 2016-17 to ’18-19, two of which were All-NBA campaigns.

Nurkic’s season high in rebounding came in 2021-22, when he averaged 11.1 boards. He hasn’t managed to grab double-digit rebounds in two of the past three seasons, and has only averaged more than one block once in the last three years, when he posted 1.1 a night in 37 games in 2020-21.

Even if Nurk is sent packing in a deal for Towns, the Timberwolves’ big man would be a significant upgrade in the front court, and Cronin could find a backup big on the cheap in free agency to pair with Drew Eubanks for depth.