The expectations are all too real for the Timberwolves after trading for Rudy Gobert, with Karl-Anthony Towns going so far as to say it’s “championship or bust” in Minnesota.
“When you make the trade that we made, that’s the reality, I’m not trying to sugarcoat,” Towns said after signing his super-max extension on Friday, per the Star-Tribune. “You’ve got to think that. That’s really what’s on the table. I don’t think the fans would be accepting of a third-round elimination.
“…Let’s be real. The standards are high. The pressure is high. And that’s when we should all love to play basketball even more.”
That’s a lofty goal for a team that went 46-34 last season, but Towns is at least right that Minnesota pushed a lot of chips in when it traded for Gobert. The Timberwolves gave up five players and five future first-round picks in the deal, despite Gobert’s struggles in the playoffs with Utah.
The Timberwolves go into next season with a core of Towns, Gobert and Anthony Edwards — enough to be intriguing, but their title odds are still 66/1.
Still, it is a massive improvement from where the franchise has been in recent years. Last year’s first-round playoff loss was just the second time since 2004 that Minnesota has made the postseason, the first being in 2018.
“For Karl, he’s seen a lot of tough days,” president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said, per the Star-Tribune. “It was so exciting to hear how excited he was about [head coach Chris Finch] and his teammates and how quickly he was willing to get this done.”