No, Karl-Anthony Towns is Not Worth a SuperMax Contract

Basketball NBA Timberwolves
Karl-Anthony Towns complains to another NBA referee.

Karl-Anthony Towns was just named All-NBA Third Team. As a center, Third Team seems about right for KAT. There’s no debate that two-time MVP Nikola Jokic is a First Teamer. Joel Embiid, who was named Second Team, probably would’ve been MVP if he stayed healthy.

But it’s not important where Towns made the All-NBA team, it’s that he made it, period. Because by making his second All-NBA team, Towns is now eligible for a coveted SuperMax contract. A four-year, $210.9 million extension, to be precise. He is not worth it.

First, what exactly is a SuperMax contract?

“A SuperMax contract is basically just the largest paycheck an NBA player can get. It is also known as the ‘Designated Veteran Player Exception’. With this, a team could sign a player for another year, at 25 percent of the team’s overall salary limit, and each year they get an extra 8 percent.”

“10 Highest SuperMax Contracts Ever Signed In The NBA,” TalkBasket.net, January 13, 2022

Here’s a list of the nine players currently signed to SuperMax deals, and the three eligible starting this year (no particular order):

  1. Steph Curry
  2. Giannis Antetokounmpo
  3. Luka Dončić
  4. Joel Embiid
  5. Rudy Gobert
  6. James Harden
  7. Damian Lillard
  8. John Wall
  9. Russell Westbrook
  10. Nikola Jokić*
  11. Devin Booker*
  12. Karl-Anthony Towns*

*Eligible, not yet signed.

Shelf Life of SuperMax Contracts

Recognize that guy in the suit jacket? That’s John Wall. A SuperMax player. (Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

With the exception of Steph Curry (34), SuperMax contracts don’t age well. Damian Lillard (31) struggled to stay healthy this season, Russell Westbrook (33) melted in Los Angeles, James Harden (32) is on his third different team in two years, and John Wall (31) hasn’t played in an NBA game since April 2020. But with the exception of Rudy Gobert*, I wouldn’t take Towns over any of his young SuperMax brethren:

  1. Luka (23)
  2. Booker (25)
  3. Giannis (27)
  4. Jokić (27)
  5. Embiid (28)
  6. Gobert (29)

KAT’s skillset earns him frequent comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki. If that were true, a SuperMax is unquestionably worth it. But what we saw from KAT during the NBA Play-In Tournament, and in games three, five, and six of the Wolves’ first-round series against Memphis, should give fans, and new Timberwolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly, much pause.

*Yep, Rudy Gobert is a SuperMax player. A two-time Defensive Player of the Year and three-time All-NBA selection, Gobert signed a five-year, $205 million extension in December 2020. It was the richest contract ever for an NBA center. He could’ve gotten the same record deal that Giannis signed with the Bucks, but he wanted to help Utah save money for Donovan Mitchell.

Big Game No-Show?

Karl-Anthony Towns reacts to a foul during a game on Jan. 19, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Hakim Wright Sr.)

A quick review of KAT’s playoff performances:

  • Play-In: 11 points on 3-11 shooting. Fouls out midway through the fourth quarter.
  • Game 1: 29 points and 13 rebounds, Wolves win 130-117.
  • Game 2: 15 points and 11 rebounds, Wolves lose by 28.
  • Game 3: four field goal attempts, five fouls. Wolves blow two 20-point leads, lose 104-95.
  • Game 4: 33 points and 14 rebounds, Wolves win 119-118.
  • Game 5: 28 points and 12 rebounds, but Wolves collapse in fourth quarter and lose.
  • Game 6: In an elimination game, Towns has 18 points and 10 rebounds. Wolves lose 114-106.

Oof. Consistency is a SuperMax player’s bare minimum. A default, with moments of pure Nirvana—a 40-point/20-rebound game, perhaps. SuperMax players should never shit the bed in more than half their playoff games. “But Booker and the Suns blew it against the Mavs!” you say? Shut up, Luka went nuclear that series.

Booker’s only truly terrible performance was game seven, where somehow the Suns collectively agreed to give up. Devin Booker is a killer. He’s also younger and smaller (easier on the knees) than Towns.

For years Dirk was the Best to Never Win a Title, but he was consistent as hell. 14 All-Star Games. 12-time All-NBA Team. He appeared in his first Finals in his eighth season, won an MVP in his ninth, and won a championship (where he was named Finals MVP) in his 13th, at age 32.

A Leader of Men?

Just look at this fucker whine. And that fucking smirk at the end. My god.

It is impossible to watch that whiney man-baby supercut and then say, with a straight face, that you respect Karl-Anthony Towns. And that’s just two minutes of shit I found on the first page of a YouTube search.

Youth is no longer an excuse. KAT just finished his seventh season—he’ll be 27 in November. Yet he exhibits the maturity and mental fortitude of a tween. He consistently and needlessly gets himself into foul trouble, and constantly blames the officials for it. In a league where complaining to the refs is commonplace, KAT stands out.

A key component of superstardom are the intangibles—leadership, confidence, responsibility toughness. Just look at what Jimmy Butler did in the Eastern Conference Finals—willing the injured and overmatched Heat to within a missed three of the NBA Finals.

Towns is the ultimate frontrunner. He only exhibits those superstar traits when things are good, and teams don’t need that shit during the good times, they need it when facing Ja Morant in an elimination game. It’s fitting that Butler is the one who dragged KAT into his only previous playoff appearance in 2018. I’m starting to think that Jimmy was right about Towns being soft.

It’s not just that KAT doesn’t carry the team with stats or gravitas, he undermines his own credibility as a leader by acting like a fucking child in front of the refs, his teammates, and the fans. Towns complains so much that I have a hard time cheering for him, and that sucks.

Save Your SuperMax for Ant

Towns isn’t even the best player on his own team—Anthony Edwards is a superstar with a mentality to match, and an ability to play defense when required. Ant isn’t eligible for a SuperMax, but if he were and I had to make a choice? I’d choose Edwards 11 out of 10 times.

Ultimately the question isn’t will Towns get a SuperMax, but will he get one in Minnesota? Someone will pay KAT, because he’s a goddamn unicorn—a nearly seven-footer who averages 25 and 10 and can hit from beyond the arc at a 39.7% clip. Regardless of his lackluster defense, tendency to bitch at officials, propensity to foul, or penchant for disappearing in big games, Towns will get paid. I just hope Tim Connelly isn’t the one to do it.