Karl-Anthony Towns recognizes the need to take some time for himself at the start of this offseason. It’s been a rollercoaster year for the Timberwolves’ big man.
Self care — mental and physical — is required. Time with his family and friends are paramount.
But make no mistake, basketball will not take a back seat this summer.
“I see what we’re capable of doing as a team,” Towns said Monday. “For me, the offseason started now. It started last night when the game was over. I’m ready to work. Next four weeks, I’m going to get some hard work in, some great lifts and then start getting ready for the next season basketball-wise. I’m going to keep working every single day. I see what we could be, so I gotta put the work in and do my job, so I’m ready for next season and help this team get to a playoff spot. The work is not done. The work just started.”
That was a mantra shared far and wide Monday as the team conducted exit interviews, both within the organization and with the media before everyone departed the facility.
Not that many will be gone for long. Gersson Rosas, the Timberwolves’ president of basketball operations, said the team will have eight to 10 players working out in market this offseason, as soon as two and a half weeks from now, preparing for Summer League.
There is a palpable enthusiasm in players as they head into the offseason that this is just the beginning for the Timberwolves. Fresh off a 9-7 finish to the season, Minnesota’s young nucleus seems confident only better things are to come. D’Angelo Russell said the last 20 games of the season were vital for Minnesota establishing a confidence, approach and excitement moving forward.
“I thought we made some good strides in just building the culture we need to build and setting the standards,” Towns said. “We’ve still got work to do, but it’s great to go into the offseason with a head start. We did great things at the end of this season, and we’ve got to build off those now.”
Surely, Rosas and Co. will tinker with the roster this offseason. Rosas is always one of the league’s most aggressive executives, particularly in the trade market. He’s repeatedly expressed his want to improve the power forward position the roster.
The Timberwolves also do also have a 27.6 percent chance of leaping into the top three of the NBA Draft lottery and thus, keeping their pick and adding another key piece through that avenue. But regardless, Towns thinks this roster as currently constructed can win.
Russell said Minnesota has “better pieces” than the Brooklyn team he helped lead to the playoffs in 2019.
“I feel like we can be that team (heading into next year), easily,” Russell said. “Our expectations will be higher. We won’t be coming into the season with no expectations. We’ll have expectations to compete and have a chance to win, every game, versus knowing going into a game where we might not have a chance to win. We have the pieces, like I said. Excited to get back there.”
Russell wasn’t willing to say playoffs are the expectation heading into next season, “because that’s not easy.”
It will require improvement, to be sure. Minnesota had flashes late in the season of brilliance, but also demonstrated the same inconsistency that’s plagued this franchise for years. Ricky Rubio pointed to the home duds the Wolves delivered against Denver and Boston in the final week of the season as examples of that.
“I was really excited about some of the things that we saw in flashes, but flashes don’t get it done in the NBA,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said. “It’s got to be consistent. We’ve got to be much more of an every-night (team).”
Consistency isn’t easy to develop. Rubio said accountability will be important. Everyone must be held to a certain standard, from the top down.
“It’s something that’s a process, it doesn’t come over night,” Rubio said. “It’s something that we have to commit each other this summer, challenge each other, challenge ourself. Really, come back next season and be the best individuals and as a team.”
Russell plans on including teammates in his offseason work, “so we can all just take that next step and come back just a completely better organization.”
Towns also noted Minnesota may benefit from Finch having more of an opportunity to implement his vision for the team and roster. From there, it’s on the players.
“I think we’re going into a really important season for this franchise, where it can go,” Rubio said. “It can go really well. But if not, it’s gonna start the rebuilding process again because if these pieces don’t fit together, it’s been enough time to really grow. This year has been weird … but there is no more excuses.”